“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Moment of Liberation

Like most women of my age, I believe I could "do with losing a few pounds", so I watch what I eat and keep a close eye on my weight. And the slimming industry thrives by feeding our insecurities, backed by the cult of celebrity, which fills the magazines and television screens with images of slim (OK, skinny) celebrities with their air-brushed-perfect faces and bodies, back in their skinny jeans weeks after giving birth.

Today I was reading one of the 'before and after' stories in the slimming magazine I had bought that morning, and was brought up standing by the following statement: "It's amazing how your body changes. My waist has gone down from 45in to 30in, my bust has reduced from 46in to 36in and my hips are down from 47in to 34in." The lady concerned was understandably pleased about this, and was looking fantastic in her 'after' photo, but my reaction was rather different, as my vital statistics are slightly smaller than hers. I thought "My God; I'm an 'after'! What on earth am I worrying about?" My BMI is at the top end of normal, and I've been the same weight, plus or minus a couple of pounds, for at least the last decade.

It was a real moment of liberation. I finally realised that I have been suckered in to years of obsessive worrying by popular culture. I suppose that on the good side, it has made me eat more or less healthily, but what a waste of emotional energy!

Gok Wan has it right - all body shapes and sizes have their own beauty, and it is about time that women like me set ourselves free from the obsession with chasing after some externally-imposed standard of "the perfect body" and started to appreciate the wonderful, marvellous, intricate bodies that we have, that walk, stand, sit, lie, reach out in longing, caress, and generally do what we want them to do.

Every woman's (and every man's) body is a gift from God, and a home for our souls. if we must have an obsession, let it be about learning to be at home in them, and looking after them, treating them with the respect they deserve, by eating and drinking good stuff, and by doing sufficient exercise to keep them fit and healthy.

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