I am just under five feet and eight inches tall. I weigh fifteen stone and nine pounds. I am a size 18 on top and a 16 on bottom. I found out my bra size! It’s a 38G. (A 38G!!?? I very nearly had to have a little lie down right there on the floor of the M&S changing room. I’d been wearing a 40D. I’d always assumed my boobs were on the slightly larger side of average. But no, turns out I’m one of these big-boob people that Buzzfeed keep writing articles about. I’m going to have to completely readjust my identity.) And most of these are details that were already widely available, because I wrote a blog post about them one year ago yesterday (many thanks to my laptop for breaking and thus preventing me from posting on the exact one-year anniversary).
Appearance-wise, not much has changed, except that I now wear bras that fit. When I wrote that last post, I was hoping that this year I’d be telling you how much weight I’ve lost, but that was never going to happen – I’ve been far too busy being chronically ill with ME. Only a few weeks after writing it, my consultant told me that my new eating plan was to never let myself get hungry and always have some fuel in the tank, so that I could at least rule out that particular cause of fatigue. So it’s still obvious. I am still rather plump. But I don’t loathe myself for it anymore.
What if, just what if, I can be happy as I am? What if I can not give a fuck what other people think? Fill up my internet feeds with beautiful, body-positive artists, Instagrammers, Youtubers: Phillippa Rice, Sally Nixon, bodyposipanda, Leena Norms, Carrie Hope Fletcher (to name but a few)? I’m going to give it a go. I can’t promise I will always be content. I certainly can’t promise that I won’t sometimes come out of movies full of skinny women with a determination to get thin that will last for a day or so before I return to sensibility. But I am fed up of waiting, in all areas of my life, for things to be different. I want to be happy now. And that means I have to be happy with now, including how my body is now.
‘Bodies [are] portable shelters‘, says Kirsty Logan, and I find it comforting to think that my body is functional before it is visual. It is for typing, for scribbling, for knitting, for swimming in seas, for walking coastpaths, for hugging, for kissing, miles before it is for looking at. I was not built to be embarrassed in my shorts or in my swimming costume, not when there is a beach before me. I was not built to lie in the bath and look at my lumps when I could be reading a book.
Bodies are transient. I think people forget that. I cannot even begin to list all the changes, can only remind myself that I’ve still got a lot of changing to do. I’m going to get well, and I’m going to get fitter. I’m pretty sure I’d like to have children at some stage (i.e. not soon), so I’m probably going to get pregnant one day. In a few decades’ time, there will be the menopause, and after that old age. There’s no use in getting too comfortable.
What worries me is this: is it normal to gain weight, as you get older? Is that what people tend to do? Is that what I’m going to end up doing? Because fifteen stone and nine pounds is plenty, thank you very much. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to admit that I don’t want any more. Perhaps I’m too young to be worrying about when I’m old, but the health problems I’ve already had make me wary of more. The solution is not necessarily to lose weight. I can be perfectly healthy at my current size. But any more weight gain will make it increasingly difficult. And so far, I’m succeeding. I haven’t gained weight in around a year and a half. But I still don’t think the way I’m eating is sustainable.
After my post last year, a relative suggested Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach. I’ve read most of it now, and it’s extremely promising. I would highly recommend it to anyone, of any sex or gender, who feels they are too fat. The first thing that stood out to me is the insistence that diets do not work, which of course is something we see and hear said all over the place. The theory is that although you might lose weight, you will not succeed in keeping it off in the long term; in fact you could even end up heavier than before you started, and you risk picking up some seriously unhelpful eating habits. I’m going at last to stand up and admit now that I’m one of those people on whom diets do not work. It’s very easy to convince yourself that you’re stronger than all those other people, that you will be the one to succeed, but no. Diets do not work on me. I would not, and do not, keep the weight off. I need to try something different. And Orbach’s method, which involves eating whatever the hell you want but only when you are truly hungry, sounds rather good to me.
There’s much more to be said, more than I can say in this single post. (Indeed, I’ve been writing this post in my head for about six months and it’s not come out anything like how I planned and I’m sure once I’ve pressed ‘publish’ I’ll remember loads of things I’ve forgotten.) So weight-related posts are henceforth going to be more than an annual tradition. I want to tell you how I get on with the method in FIFI (as it amusingly acronyms itself). I want to consider further the dissonance between the notion that diets don’t work, and the enormous pressure on people who are overweight/obese to lose weight. I want to talk about my decision to stop referring to myself as ‘overweight’, but why I am far from ready to happily call myself ‘fat’. So watch this space. More to come.