On my body

My body. It’s been with me almost 23 years of my life now, and it’s gone through a fair amount of changes in its time. But it’s only recently that I started realising just how much I am aware of these very same tiny changes that my body goes through day to day, week to week, month to month.

I don’t know if any else goes through this. I would, however, say that women are perhaps more likely to be aware of their bodies, and the changes that they undertake. This is a big generalisation, and I’m basing it on very little other than my understanding of how popular culture influences my own awareness of my body.

However, I’ve come to the realisation recently that my body is never going to look like this:

(As a sidenote, I’m NOT saying that the above model’s body shape is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s definitely the popular ‘ideal’ for a lot of women at the moment – but I’m not here to skinny or fat bash anyone).

Even if I dieted for years of my life, and lived in the gym, I highly doubt I could achieve that with my body. There’s a few reasons for this:

- Genetics. This is the biggest one. When I look at my sister, my mother, my cousins and my aunties, I can see that genetically, none of us are ever going to be super models. We’re average to short in height (I’m 165cm, or 5″4, and the rest of my family is within 5 -10cm  either side of this). Additionally, I have a tummy. I have never, ever, ever been able to shake my tummy. It’s just a funny little bit of fat that I seem to be genetically predisposed of. even at my skinniest, I still have a tummy. I’m slowly learning to accept that my tummy appears to be my life partner, and I’ll never be able to shake it.

- I have breasts. Specifically, I have moderate to large sized breasts. Sure, when I lose weight, a little bit of them disappears – but I’ll never be able to go without a bra.

- I have muscles. After spending years pitching in softball, and lifting weights at the gym, I have an impressive set of biceps. This, in itself, is neither here nor there. But society does seem to have an aversion surrounding women having muscles.

My weight, like many other women’s, can fluctuate. It can go up, and it can go down. And I am hyperaware of when it does so, along with almost everyone around me. I went in to an old workplace of mine a few weeks ago, and ran into a former colleague of mine that I hadn’t seen for a good two years. The first thing she said to me? “You look so skinny! You’ve lost weight!”.

Now, in this time I had also completed my Honours degree, moved house, changed jobs, and had one relationship break up, followed by another new relationship. Obviously, this was not all evident on my face – but I find the need to comment on my weight upon immediately seeing me a bit strange. Sure, maybe after a minute or two of idle chit chat, that one can be slipped into conversation. But for all this colleague knew, I could have been incredibly ill for the last two years – hence the weight loss.

I’m not advocating an extreme amount of political correctness here – but I am drawing attention to the fact that a person’s weight (or change in weight) is amongst the first things society comments on/notices.

This hyperawareness of my own, and of other’s, bodies, is exhausting. The slightest change in my hair colour, my tan, or my weight is inevitably commented upon by others – and mostly, these others are women. The comments are rarely negative – in fact, a lot of them are compliments – but they don’t fail to lessen the idea that everyone is aware of, and observing, changes in my body.

It’s strange.