Words: Meryl Cubley
Talking to some of my friends and colleagues lately I discovered that most of us have put on a little extra padding of late and I started to ponder why… Had we fallen into the recession-bites so head for the comfort food trap? Perhaps those of us in relationships had become a little more comfortable with ourselves – the fact that we have partnered up with men who accept us for what we really are certainly helps.
I meditated on the fact that it could be put it down to age, during the decades of your 30’s and 40’s it can be more difficult to ditch the weight that seemed to melt away oh-so-easily in our teens and 20’s – if it was ever there at all.
Then I hit a eureka moment – maybe, just maybe, it was because we had just stopped giving a fuck. It would seem that on further discussion my group of female friends and peers had realised that life is a whole lot easier once we as women finally had the courage and conviction to stick two fingers up to the cultural and social expectation that the only way to be sexy is to be a size six.
If you are a size six (or an eight or a ten…) and are naturally petite and slim of frame, then please do not misunderstand me and think I am vilifying you. That is what the mainstream media wants you to think. Its purpose in this arena seems to be to pit women against one another by making a woman’s size an issue and watching with glee as we fall foul of yet another method of making us compete against each other in some sort of twisted battle of a sexual hierarchy based on size. Divide and conquer indeed.
Yet can we point the finger of blame purely in the media’s direction? Are we not also to blame? Let’s look at the example of Lucy Moore, the recent winner of Ann Summers ‘Find a Face,’ competition that ran during 2011/2012. At a size 16 Lucy’s achievement should have been a celebration of diversity in the barrage of touched-up or totally changed images of women’s bodies that we see every day, yet with sinking heart I read comment and forum boards related to Lucy’s win and found ‘thin’ women berating ‘fat’ women for being overweight, and the ‘voluptuous’ accusing the ‘skinny minnies’ of being anorexic.
What exactly is going on here? When are we going to wake up to the fact that the only way women can move forwards with this issue is to work together to ensure that ALL bodyshapes are represented in the media. There is no ‘perfect ideal,’ just healthy bodies. And a healthy body equals a sexy body, whatever the size.
Dress sizes alone cannot be used to ascertain health and/or sexual attraction. Is a marathon runner of a size 16 unhealthy or overweight? Or course not! Body frame, muscle mass, height, bone structure, genetics… these all have a massive effect on size – so isn’t it time that we stopped being so obsessed with the number that appears on the label of our clothes?
This piece would not be would not be truly honest if I did not ask myself the difficult question of how my own recent weight gain has affected my psyche and sexual life, if at all.
At 5’9, I have a large back (the upside down triangle type, or ‘apple’ shape) and a well-defined boob area ahem! I have inherited ‘navvies arms’ (my mother’s words) from the female line of my family, take a size 7 – 8 in shoe size; and have been blessed with a rather thick waist that usually shows itself as a little rotund belly that keeps me nicely warm during these winter months. I am not a natural waif.
In the last year I have gone from a size 10/12, to a very definite size 14, and yes if I am talking hand on heart, it has taken me some time to get my head around the idea that I am now most definitely considered ‘curvy.’ To accept that and to even love it has not been easy.
In the far off and misty past I was once a very small size eight – and believe me it wasn’t pretty – on me. Being so slim just did not suit my natural body shape and interestingly I don’t actually remember being particularly sexually active during this stage of my life. When I wasn’t working I was at the gym and when I wasn’t there I was at another new club or a party, dancing the night away and eating nothing until the following afternoon when as my blood sugars plummeted I would eat two chocolate bars in one go just to keep me going.
Last night I watched on as my partner cut thick slabs of butter for each delicious pancake he cooked for our Shrove Tuesday supper. I mildly berated him, but was I really that concerned? Not particularly. Pancake Day is only once a year after all. Would my 20-something self have reacted in the same way? No chance. I wouldn’t have been in the house cooking and eating pancakes for a start. So not cool.
In weight gain has come the knowledge and satisfaction that my lifestyle has completely changed since I was considered ‘thin.’ You might say that my appetite for a more varied life is in full swing. In my 20’s I didn’t eat out in fancy restaurants or make it out of bed for the family Sunday lunch. Being a true party girl on a constant mission to chase excitement, pleasure and the next ‘new’ thing was amazing at the time and lots of fun, but it didn’t leave a lot of time for food. Fast forward to today and my social life tends to be centered on going out for dinner or enjoying home-cooked food with friends, which has resulted in a ‘natural’ size for me, of 14.
So does this mean I am overweight or unhealthy? I really don’t believe it does. I no longer go to the gym but I do walk everywhere and have started taking my neighbour’s dog for lunchtime walks, more to break up the amount of hours I sit writing at my desk than anything else. My diet as a pescatarian is healthy and full of vegetables and fruit and I would say in general, very well balanced. Could I do more exercise? Probably. Will I? As the weather slowly creeps forwards to spring I yearn for the outdoors most days and walking around the park with a very cute puppy is great fun so the answer is yes. Will I lose weight? It is more likely that I will tone and tighten up a little as I become more active and that is great – but I can honestly say that I do not want to lose weight. Curves are not something to be afraid of; they are my new best friends.
My sex life has not been affected negatively since I put on a few pounds and unless my partner is pulling off consistent Oscar performances it hasn’t affected him either. He is particularly fond of new 36 DD breast measurements.
There has been one very noticeable change however. I am now finding myself attracted to the kind of incredibly sexy and sumptuous underwear that I just didn’t think my slimmer-self could carry off in the past. Thinking back, the slimmer I have been, the less interest I’ve had in lingerie, preferring to adopt a tomboyish look. Yet now I find myself becoming obsessed with the beauty that is vintage-style underwear, satin and silk, burlesque style nipple tassels, stockings and suspenders… the list is endless and it is all very appealing. All of those fripperies that somehow seemed off limits before are what I feel I should be wearing to show off my new fuller figure. Do I have the confidence to actually wear these femme fatale inspired creations though? Well last night I dreamt of the perfect four-piece eau de nil satin lingerie and I fell in love. Now, where is that credit card…
To be victorious women must aim to be healthy, happy and to take care of ourselves.