Some may argue that this post isn’t very “feminist” of me. Feminists aren’t supposed to care about their weight. We’re supposed to keep up a constant charade of confidence, keeping proud and sure of ourselves and our appearance.
I’m debunking this theory. I think being a “feminist” is being honest about honest feelings, whatever those feelings may be, whilst not judging over women on their feelings. Insecurity’s about weight always seem to come across as silly, narcissistic and down right boring. Right?
The honest truth is, not all, but a lot of confident, smart women have insecurities about their appearance, and weight is probably the most damning of all of them. AND THAT’S OKAY. There is enough shame forced on women as it is, without the shame of feeling shame about your own body.
One of my biggest girl crushes, Lena Dunham, talks about this subject candidly in her new book, Not That Kind of Girl (I finished it in a day. High recommended). In one chapter, she talks about attempting to lose weight, devoting a handful of pages to a real life food journal she kept as a way of controlling what she was eating – down to the last almond. During a press interview, she says:
“My food intake was a hard thing to share publicly. A lot of my life and work is sort of about not succumbing to [those pressures], so it’s a little painful to go, ‘Oh but look, there was a time where this dominated every moment of every day.’ “
I must admit, I found myself surprised when I read that chapter. Lena was someone I always looked to as being more than the countless “fake” celebrities we’re exposed to. Someone who’s brain and humour made her more attractive and likeable than any appearance obsessed female in the media.
But after reading the above interview, it hit me that although this subject shouldn’t be normal – it’s not healthy and will never secure a sense of happiness or self worth – it is a completely understandable and expected way of thinking, considering her industry and the society we as Western women exist within. I applaud Lena for being so honest, and believe that she is even more of a role model for young girls for being open and honest about it, rather than lying and saying, “No, I don’t care about my weight, I’m completely in love with who I am.”
Accepting yourself fully is the ultimate goal. But it’s not easy and there’s no shortcut to doing so. Everyone has their down days. I am mostly confident with myself and my body, but some days I feel grotesque and kind of despise my own body. Sorry if that upsets any “feminists” out there but it’s honest and I know a lot of my girlfriends feel the same way. And before you try to make me feel guilty or patriarchal for having these thoughts, can YOU honestly say that as a woman, you’ve never felt that way?
For the last two weeks, I’ve been with my boyfriend in Europe. I was blissfully happy, being in the company of someone who makes me feel so lovely that all tiny insecurities flutter away. I applaud anyone that avoids weight fluctuation when in the company of a male.
1. They can eat whatever they want all the time and NEVER put on a pound.
2. You feel so comfortable with them and happy and spontaneous that when you see something you really really want on the menu, you don’t hesitate. And most importantly, you enjoy it.
Who can say they managed to by pass filling out a little in the honeymoon period, when all you want to do is sit on the sofa with a film and a takeaway? Not me.
Anyway, for the first week, I didn’t feel guilty because, after all, I was on holiday. A week of eating freely and happily for a week isn’t going to change your body shape. But then the second week began, and by the last day I’d realised that for the most part I’d sat in bed in his baggy jumper and boxes eating bowl after bowl of muesli, bar after bar of dark chocolate, and spoonful after spoonful of sugar laden peanut butter (my biggest addiction). When I got dressed to catch my flight home, I couldn’t do up my high waisted jeans.
It’s hardly the biggest weight gain of the century. But I’m not comfortable being over my natural, healthy size. I could lie and say I don’t care, I’m proud of being a women and who cares if I’m a little heavy during this glorious festive period. But I’m not going to. I’m not ashamed a slip up in my road to conclusive confidence.
The positive in this situation, is I know that I only feel heavier because I’ve been eating like a glutenous pig. I don’t need to extreme diet, make myself sick, starve myself or even obsessively exercise, because I know that after a few days, or maybe even a week, of eating normally and healthily (also moving my body instead of laying in a really really comfy bed) my body will balance itself out again and I will be back to my comfortable size.
And as long as I know this, all is well in my own brain. A big part of maintaining a healthy and happy brain and body is balance. Life is too short to constantly worry about your body or your food intake. We need to treat ourselves every once in a while. Whether that be an amazing creamy chocolate cake, or just laying off on the guilt and shame we hand ourselves and other women.