So, there are three things in the world that I hate shopping for the most, namely: jeans, mascara and swimming costumes. The first because sizes are so random that you can ‘lose’ or ‘gain’ weight depending on the shop/style; the second because I’m really fussy about what the brush is like (I’ve never, ever found the perfect mascara. It’s the one make-up item I have no brand loyalty to) and the third, well. It’s the closest I will ever get to exposing myself in public.
I’ve decided that, now I have a bit of a second wind, I am going to take up aqua aerobics for ladies of the pregnant persuasion. This requires specialist clothing.
I loathe trying on clothes in a shop. The lighting is always awful and I really hate catching my reflection in the mirror (unfortunately, mirrors are not like those on ‘Futurama’ where they make you look better than you actually are.) The trying on of clothes becomes a staring contest with my reflection, ticking off all my imperfections. It’s awful and no matter what my mood was on entering that cubicle, it will be rock bottom by the time I come out.
The stupid thing is, I would never, ever say the things I think about myself to anyone else and if they tried to say it about themselves, I would stop them. I have no idea why I allow myself to think like this.
Another thing- I teach teenagers about the ways the media manipulate images. I am an intelligent person- I know the tricks they use. I even taught students to use these techniques for their own work. Yet I let it get to me. This is not brilliant, really. But I don’t really have any solutions- governments don’t really seem to give a monkey’s and the various industries would get around legislation in any case. Normal women don’t have expensive personal trainers or a team of photoshoppers on hand. We just have what we have.
The thing is, I’ve never been thin and I don’t think that should matter. What should be important that people are secure in whatever skin they’re in. But I can’t bring this message to myself. And the weird thing is, even though I know part of the way I look now is because I’m carting around a small human inside me, I can’t escape from the negative thoughts. In my mind, on a bad day, ‘it’s only going to get worse’. On good days I can think, ‘Wow, bodies are pretty cool. They do stuff we don’t even think about.’
The media bombards us with images, whether that’s the Daily Mail declaring that Miley Cyrus is ‘painfully thin’ or decrying the state of Kate Moss’ toes, or the Indian media attacking Aishwarya Rai for being ‘an elephant’ after giving birth. It’s certainly affected me and many girls of my generation- the first generation, really, where adverts were really targeted at us. I worry about my students and I worry that if I have a girl, that she’ll be exposed to this.