Long ago I stopped paying any heed to what catwalk models and haute couture did. The fashion industry as a whole had a lot to answer for when it came to young women and the (largely negative) perception of their bodies. So I quit buying glossy magazines devoted to endorsing a shape so emaciated it appeared ghoulish. Was the fashion industry warped, or was I? And with its ideals of beauty so entrenched, would it ever change its stripes? Well, it would seem so, as plus-size models took to the runway in New York recently. One giant leap for womankind – or a case of too little, too late?
Even if the media isn’t the root cause of unhealthy body images, it certainly salts the wound, especially when it comes to impressionable teens and tweens. Growing up, some of my closest friends had eating disorders. At one point I briefly ‘dabbled’ in starvation myself. Fortunately the result of an apple and Diet Coke a day diet frightened me enough to call off all bets. My face grew gaunt, and I won’t even mention what happened with my bowels… Every day I walked for miles. But health wasn’t my motivator.
Thankfully the days of obsessing about my weight are behind me. Having a baby kind of gets in the way of counting calories; you are too busy changing dirty diapers and gazing at your little darling. Too busy just muddling through that first shell-shocked year to expend the energy that diets and disorders seem to require. The other day I found myself pushing the stroller behind a young woman who checked herself out in every passing shopfront window. I had to laugh. Though I still take pride in the way I look, I thank my lucky stars I’m no longer in her Jimmy Choos. Nothing has been such a load off my shoulders than relaxing into my skin over the past few years. Of course I could do more exercise, and I could eat healthier. But overall I’m happier, stretch marks and all.
If men allegedly think about sex every few minutes, then most women must think about their fatty deposits as often. I look alright now, but I looked better in my twenties. I wish I had known then just how good I looked then!
The irony is, you rarely feel good in your skin when you look your best. That irony is never more apparent than on a nudist beach. Typically, the most youthful bodies remain covered up, while their elders throw caution to the wind, and literally let it all hang loose…
A friend of mine puts it best: ‘What would your 80-year-old self say if she saw you right now?’ She’s absolutely right. When it comes to their appearances, women tend to be the harshest critics. So the next time you stare into the mirror and don’t like what you see, take a step back, squint a little, and be kind. Chances are, your inner octogenarian thinks you look mighty fine.