Friday, July 21, 2006

Body image

Time for those body image revelations, then.

Although I've clearly lost a lot of weight, sometimes it takes a while for my mind to catch up. While I don't wake up and reach for the size 22 trousers, and I don't worry when I sit down whether the chair will hold my weight, I do think that I sometimes over-estimate my size. Because I was obese and overweight for so long it's hard to think of myself as anything other than that.

I was actually shocked this morning when I was thinking about stuff and realised that it's nearly a year since I was last obese. I might have to celebrate that non-obesity anniversary, the day I finally became merely overweight for the first time since god knows when. (Or at least god might know, I certainly don't, having neglected to keep records on the way up).

But that was after the big, holiday, bikini related revelation. It's not that I've suddenly lost a pile of weight (in fact I haven't actually weighed myself for nearly three weeks. For a former daily weigher that's almost a miracle, and I'm getting vaguely worried about what the scales will say if I go into the gym tomorrow for a paced treadmill run). But my mind has started to catch up with my body and realise what the reality of the situation is.

I'm not obese. I haven't been for nearly a year. I'm not overweight. I haven't been that for nearly six months. I'm not nearly overweight. I'm not almost fat. I'm not thinner than I was but still a bit porky.

I'm thin.

Four letters, but they've been hard to get through my thick head sometimes. For my whole life, thin has been other people. Thin hasn't been an ambition, even. I never dreamed of being thin, and even had I dreamed it I'd have never expected to get there. Not articulating it as a goal has made it hard for me to accept that I've made it anyway.

There's something about summer. Clothes come off or get smaller, and, for those people like me who have started to really pay attention to where they fit into the great scheme of things, dress size wise, it's an opportunity to really assess. Visiting hotel pools and beaches and seeing other people in bikinis, short skirts and, on certain parts of the beach, nothing at all.

And I started to really realise that, while I may lose out in comparison with 16 year old Spanish beach queens (seriously, this one group spent all day every day on my patch of beach, and had fantastic bodies. Bitches), if I look at other people in their late 20s I'm not half bad. OK, so my stomach isn't quite firm (although it is getting surprisingly flat), but whose is once the years and babies and pizzas start to have their effect. I'm not perfect and never will be, but I'm not half bad.

Wearing a bikini I realised that I was passable, at least. Although I've always worn a bikini rather than a one piece for comfort and ease of wear reasons, it's been more as a piece of underwear, and I then whip my clothes off for a quick dip in the pool or the sea when necessary. I might sometimes wander round without anything covering my top half, but I'd never have worn bikini bottoms without a sarong, or a skirt, or shorts covering my arse. Partly because of my shocking laxness when it comes to de-forestation of the bikini area, but mainly because I didn't like that part of me.

But this time I decided that I would do a "walk of victory". I love getting the bus from my parents' house to Meloneras, at one side of the Maspalomas dunes, walking along the beach for 2 or 3 miles (through the nudist area) and coming out in Playa del Ingles where I can catch the bus back. I've always worn clothes over my bikini this time, but this time I decided I'd join the multitudes who wear simply bikinis. (Or less, in the middle section). So I walked for 3 miles or so in total in just a bikini.

Children didn't go running. People didn't avert their eyes from the horror. It was OK. I found myself realising that I looked pretty good compared to a lot of other people on the beach and that there was absolutely no reason to be ashamed of my body any more.

But it got better. I got to the end and put a ludicrously short skirt on. Divide your thigh roughly half way between knee and arse. Move the dividing line up a little, then a little more. That's the length of the skirt. I put on a top that was pretty much see through and showed the bikini underneath. I stood at the bus stop. And got chatted up. Not by an alcoholic OAP or someone I'd not go near with a barge pole, but by someone pretty cute and friendly. Not my scene, and although I took his number I didn't intend to use it, but still flattering and a confidence boost. In a bikini.

And then, believe it or not it got better. I went shopping in the sales. While trying on dresses in Mango (size medium). The clothes are labelled in sizes for all sorts of country. Spain, Germany, UK, Mexico, USA. In all sorts of combinations. (In fact, it gave me a thrill to notice that a Spanism medium is a USA/German small). Sometimes they get a letter in Spanish, or UK sizes but a number in other sizes. And it came to my attention that a medium is, in Mango sizing, a UK 10, pretty much. I don't know what sort of fantasy land they live in if they think that 10 is medium, and 12-14 large, but that's what the labels were suggesting. And medium was definitely the size that worked for me in dresses. Even better was when I went into a different shop and bought some trousers. OK, so they're a loose fitting style, but I've never bought anything in a size 10 before. Part of me does wonder whether the size equivalents are exact, but part of me just looks at that label.


As I'd already, finally, noticed, I'm thin. No qualifications, no nearlys, almosts, or fairlys.

(On the vague subject of body image, I realised a while ago that the photo of me in the title bar thingy is actually nearly a year old - I took it in Dublin in September 2005. I really need to get round to coming up with a new snazzy look that includes a photo that looks a bit more like me!)


Blogger Jackie said...

I love your writing so much. Very motivating. makes me stop and think about my goals and how often I forget them. I love the difference in languages though. You say different things than what canadians say. Like I was chatted up. hehe so cute!

9:51 PM  
Blogger M@rla said...

My god, you total SLUT - running around in a bikini and getting chatted up by a guy who wasn't repulsive!


Good for you! Your description of that day sounds like everyone's dream fantasy of what it will be like AFTER. It's inspiring to read about.

11:51 PM  
Blogger JBedor said...

Hi! I have recently found your blog and am enjoying reading it. I can relate to your post today about forgetting you've lost weight. I recently have lost 70 pounds and want to lose an additional 30. I went shopping today to get jeans and every time I looked at a pair, I reached to the back to find the bigger sizes adn then had to catch myself and realize I din't have to look in the back anymore. It is a strange feeling. Good luck on your marathon. I am going to run one in Duluth, MN USA next summer.

11:52 PM  
Blogger liza said...

Hi. Your journey to get where you are now has been an inspiration. I too started to revamp my life 5 months ago. Reading your blog, especially your archives, gives me hope that change is possible. Congratulations on your new body!:)

2:57 AM  

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