This is not a pretty piece. This is not an eloquent piece of travel writing designed to make you wish you were here, or conjuring up colours and smells so evocatively you don’t need to join me. This is a rant. I feel like ranting this afternoon as I am so frustrated at myself and it is time to air it. I am tired of how I give so much time to the petty stuff in life when I know there is so much more, and I know I could do more. We all know its easy to waste a few hours on facebook, a bit of life avoidance with a bit of screen time; we switch off feeling sick like we’ve eaten too many sweets. We’ve over indulged in petty mindless waffle and insignificant gossip (ok I use it too and I know that occasionally something enlightening or newsworthy pops up amongst the flotsam, and of course its always nice to find old friends..but enough..) How many of us, especially woman, give too much time, mental time, to small worries and insecurities, little things that rise up and sabotage us, wearing false cloaks of great importance. Out here I am enjoying a life of apparent simplicity in what is, at least superficially, a pretty good paradise. So why I am still wasting time on feeling too fat, feeling too hairy, and worse, feeling untalented! I guess I thought this was an adolescent phase I was staying in for a while too long, but hey, nobody told me that when you grow up (when is that?) sometimes these nasty little fish stay with you. I am the whale, they are my sucker fish. Annoying little things but some might say they motivate.
I’ve been struggling with feeling fat since being a teenager, it’s an insecurity I’m desperate not to pass on to my beautiful firey daughter. I am no model, I am not skinny, and I’m pretty short, but I do know I’m not fat. I could be fitter, I could be slimmer but really I’m not fat. And yet. I still beat myself up on a daily basis that I should do more about my ‘pizza dough’ belly (thanks kids!) and that I just don’t look good. What the hell! I’m out here far away from any sort of society surrounded by people who love me, the only person making me feel bad is myself. Ok out here there are still gorgeous images on the internet, beauties on films to contend with, and magazines full of false air brushed babes do occasionally make it out, but really here is where I should be riding high. Here I need to make a stand, and it’s me versus me. I need to move on from teasing from my brothers, from the fact that even now my dad feels he can comment on my size, from the fact that I will never be the surf babe I guess I wish I was (come on deep down who doesn’t really want to?..) Is fat a feminist issue? Fatness is a close issue to me as I love food. I love cooking, I love feeding others, and I love eating. I know I would like a healthy balanced diet and, like most of us, I aspire to a healthy lifestyle. I am fairly active and would like to set an example of healthy living to my children, and be around for them as long as possible. I know I feel much better in my body when I am fit and active. I know it’s not about the way I look (though its true I do look better when I’m active) but its about the way I FEEL. Exercise can bring me vitality, confidence, even sexiness, and, even better, allows me to indulge in the food I want. This is a key message I need to pass on to my daughter, so obvious, but vital to instil. Feel fit and healthy for LIFE. Not for the beach photos or your boyfriend or your dad’s approval but for your own joy, so you can grab all you want from life and not get hindered by petty worries. (And, as an added bonus be saved from endless tedious conversations about diet!)
Today I saw, on the aforementioned time guzzling facebook, some great illustrations by a woman called CAROL ROSSETTI. She’s a Brazilian artist who’s done a series called Women. (Its on buzzfeed.com if you’re interested) They are all neat little vignettes of powerful messages for women around the world. Some are on more sombre and serious issues, but remember today I’m focusing on the petty…One of them is of an older not so perfect woman in a bikini: “Mariana has always loved going to the beach,” it says. “ However its been some time since people started badmouthing her body, and they even suggested she retired the bikini and wear something more DISCREET. Marianna, your body is not an ornament made to please the public. You go to the beach however you like! Those who don’t approve your looks can always look the other way.” It’s like that old sketch of a ‘bikini body’ – lots of different shaped bodies in bikinis. I know it’s obvious and lots of you are lucky enough to have never suffered from this insecurity (wish I was you) but to lots of us sadly its still a biggie in the world of petty saboteurs. So. From this day forward I am going to embrace wearing my bikini. Shit, I did just order a tummy tucking tankini, but I’ll save that for shy days. No, simply coy days. I’m proud.
Another of Carol Rosettis pictures shows a gorgeous sexy woman in slinky dress with hairy legs. It reads; “Amanda has decided that shaving is not her thing. Amanda it’s your body and you do whatever you want with it. No social convention should have a say in your identity!” I love it, its nice and simple and I totally agree. I am happy for women to express themselves in their bodies in whatever way they choose, hairy, tattooed, shaven, scantily clad or hijab covered. Here’s the rub. Out here far from beauty salons to get my monthly leg wax I have indeed grown pretty hairy, actually quite incredibly hairy. At first my leg hairs were ok, soft, blond, strokeable and so reasonably un-noticable. Now, 2 & half months on, they are seriously hairy, I venture to say perhaps more hairy than my lovely boyfriends. They are now vigorous enough that their blond locks glint as they catch the light and it’s a wonder mosquitos can still get through to bite. My dilemma is this; I don’t like the way they look, and I don’t like they way I feel, but I am aware this comes from a lifetime of social conditioning against feminine body hair. I feel I should be strong and make a stand for not having to waste time on such silly grooming. I am not a speed cyclist or swimmer so can have no possible argument for the need to have smooth hair-free legs. But. Try as I might I just cannot relax with these old hairy pegs. I feel unattractive and like I’m cast in the Hobbit, not like a lucky lady with a handsome younger boyfriend to impress. I am battling against this type casting so hard but damn it having hairy legs just does not feel sexy. To be honest if he wasn’t here I probably wouldn’t care, but he is, and I do. So here I am wasting precious time on this 2nd petty dilemma; to shave or not to shave. It may be more productive to go ahead and do it than to waste so much mental energy thinking about it. Again this is another petty saboteur I do not want to pass on to my daughter. She is currently happily unaware that, aged 7, she has a slight hairy back and quite hairy legs, and long may this happiness continue. I hope for her sake that she will be stronger than me and genuinely not care, or that the times around her will have changed and we will be so much more used to seeing a million and one body types, skinny, fat, hairy or bald, and will love and embrace them all. Ultimately freedom is a feminist issue and not hairiness. Next time I’m in town I may purchase some razors.
As for feeling untalented? Well that’s not a little one but this demoralising feeling can creep in through allowing the petty saboteurs to waste your time and distract your attention. Its down to me to push myself to find work I’m happy at and good at, it’s down to me to start writing, practise and get better. Perhaps if I spend less time on these silly time wasters I’ll give more time to the right things. It’s all about confidence after all. Confidence and focussed time. I wonder what my friends on facebook are doing….
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