I will never be thin

March 9, 2012

in Personal

Why do I care? Why do I mind what I look like? Why do I want to look better than I do?

I have discovered that that is a very difficult question to answer. 

I do want to give a message that I’m not beige.

I’d like to add a message that I am restrained, a delicate,  non greedy eater. Umm – why do I want to present a lie to the world?!

I want to be healthy. But I also love playing the delinquent with Charles, indulging the forbidden together…. I love that most, but we try to restrain each other too, in the interest of being healthy. So we are healthyish, but not thin.

To wear great clothes? Well, I do love clothes – at least partly for their fabrics, colours, the sheer sensual, aesthetic pleasure of them. And it is horrible when I try something gorgeous on and then looking makes my heart sink.

I do like Charles to like how I look and he does tell me (both the yes and the no). He enjoys clothes too (including his own) and I love that.

I like my friends to like how I look too – caring about what I wear for them is a way of telling them I care about them. And that I think they are discriminating enough to like well chosen clothes. And to share and talk about them together.

But I expect them to shut up about my being too fat. And they do, being friends.

I notice that my reaction to seeing friends is pleasure and recognition, a quick, inevitable check as to whether they are OK, and then a look at what they’re wearing. If it’s good, it will pleasure me all evening.

It doesn’t distress me if they look a little fat. Far from it. From which I would have to deduce that to please your friends, gain a little weight?

But sure as hell I don’t do it for that reason. Why not?

A rug copyright Anne Wareham

 


Elizabeth March 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm

What a fascinating post. I have never felt slim even though looking back I clearly was. A few years ago I was life threateningly ill and lost so much weight I looked breakable. As I recovered I ate my way through my previous “must cut back now” point and am now about a stone heavier in my fifties than I used to be. There is nothing like thinking you might have reached the end to make you enjoy life when you get it back. I veer between purely functional clothes and occasional flashes of kingfisher colour and shape and heels. That’s probably a fair reflection of my life which is mainly gardening in jeans, keeping warm in fleece and wearing wellies, interspersed with glorious food, theatre and getting drunk.

anne March 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Great! Enjoyment.Right. A life without macaroni cheese is not a life worth having…. That really does matter, doesn’t it?

cp53a March 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Anne – the first time we met at BTG launch I was struck by your outfit – that gorgeous orange/green flowing top (or was it a jacket?) over long black dress and black lace wristwarmers (hope my memory accurate there?). You have a clear individual style, a sense of what suits you and you wear your clothes very well. Never in a million years would I use the adjective “beige” to describe you and, like Sacha, it never crossed my mind to think of you as fat.

Reading “I will never be thin” & the ensuing comments, reminded me with a jolt of a photograph I used to keep on my desk. It’s of a 30 year old me, posing on a rock on the Greek island of Paxos. Topless, slim, brown as a nut, attractive. I kept it on my desk as a cruel reminder of what I used to look like and in the vain hope that I may look like her again. What happened to that girl? Where did she go? Why is she now inhabiting this hateful body? ….

Well I’ll tell you! Just before my 21st birthday, I underwent a Thyroidectomy – Surgeon said he’d left me with enough gland to be able to function normally – 16 years down the line however, & the weight began to slowly accumulate. Visit to Drs confirmed my fears that I would need to take synthetic Thyroxine for remainder of my life. “You’ll be down to 6 stone in no time”, said my GP, jokingly, and I (poor, gullible sod) believed the weight would just roll off! Sadly, it didn’t! – and it’s never going to happen – a malfunctioning metabolism pays no heed to a healty diet!

I adore clothes, always have, but I gave up wearing nice things in favour of men’s baggy jumpers & other horrid hide-alls. It wasn’t until we moved south 9 years ago & I discovered a tiny boutique with an extremely helpful owner that I began to feel slightly more at ease within this body and gained some confidence for wearing fashionable, feminine clothes again.

I know with time we all change physically but it still distresses me greatly to know that I can’t even come close to resembling the 30 year old me in that photograph In fact “that photograph” is no longer on my desk and anyone who has met me will know my twitter avatar is from 20 years ago!!!!!

anne March 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I have a photo like that – though not on display. Charles took it of me, naked and exuberant by a stream in Scotland. I was thin because I had been so miserable and it didn’t last long.

Loss HURTS. And the only way it ever stops hurting is if we let it hurt.

And clothes are great – and I’m so chuffed you remember what I was wearing and that it worked. Those of us with tummies have to begin, maybe? to share ideas about what clothes do work, and why and who makes them.

Stylishness is all. And Clare – you have such a lovely face, that’s how you come into my mind (your eyes!!!) – the present one as well as your avatar pic! (which always gives me a lift: because that’s you popping up.)

XXXXX

cp53a March 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Thank you Anne! Strangely, the anaesthetist at my Thyroidectomy said I had bedroom eyes – mind you, they were popping out of my head Marty Feldman style at the time! xxx

Sacha March 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

All young women should be given this to read. I was slim once, so slim that my husband looks at those photos and says “too thin”. Being him, I think he means it. But the point is that at the time, I didn’t appreciate that I did have rather a good figure and that being 5’10 with long legs was really quite a nice thing. I wanted easier hair, not to wear specs, bigger boobs etc! Young women should see that older women can worry, too, just as much as they do and that perhaps the moral is “enjoy who you are” because it’s better than the alternative! I would so like the day to come when we see the person and not the body it lives in.

Charles March 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

There’s a lot of threads to pick up here! I suppose to start with I am acutely concious that there is a massive gender divide around being preoccupied with ones appearance. In particular around issues of weight. Most men simply don’t carry a preoccupation with their weight. I do a bit. I don’t like looking in the mirror and seeing a round belly. Or trying to squeeze into trousers. Its slightly a health issue but mostly it feels like I am less attractive when I am getting tubby. I certainly carry that judgement to other men, and am shocked that one of my close friends has got a real pot belly and I think it looks horrid. But he’s a good example. He doesn’t like it either and states that he wants to lose it but I think hes’ very unlikely to do anything about it. Another close friend does tend to put on weight but then he does diet and loses it again. But I don’t think the three of us are as preoccupied with our weight as I think so many women are. How the various women in my office are doing in terms of weight loss or gain is a standard and open conversation. I think this would be a very unusual topic amongst men in an office environment. In this regard I am glad I am a man.

What I really dislike about getting older is that health issues have begun to intrude into my life. Rising blood pressure, feeling a bit crap too often and mild warnings from my GP about alcohol. I’ve acquired an occasional heart arrhythmia and a Consultant Cardiologist. Hair loss. These are combining to give me a sense of getting old. Anne has a photograph in her office that I took of us when we were first lovers. She looks lovely. I look lovely. I don’t think that either of us particularly thought we looked lovely at the time even though we were certainly very “into” one another. Its quite painful to look at it. I don’t think that I look lovely now and I don’t like seeing either her face or mine accumulate the tell tale signs of age. So in this area, I think we are carrying some similar feelings.

Clothes are something that I have often envied women. Generally speaking men’s clothes are very dull. And god knows we certainly dress very boringly. But I have to admit that it is my own conservatism that has held me back from being more adventurous about what I wear. Anne has often encouraged me to take more risks. To the point where I have bought some things that I have subsequently simply not worn. The funny thing is that I am really not clear about what I would be risking if I were to dress more interestingly. A couple of years ago we went to the Yamamoto exhibition at the V &A. I have never felt more excited about the possibilities of clothes for men (not the skirts, though). But I wasn’t brave enough to take the step of seeking out something similar or use that excitement as a springboard to wearing more exciting clothes. Who’s judgement do I fear? Or is it just about not being willing to risk standing out from the crowd?

John March 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I can empathise with Charles’ friends. To mid 50s, I was a static 10.5 stone (give or take an ounce now and then) and 32” waist. This was despite breakfast being a mid morning cheese sandwich and a can of Coke or similar and lunch being “chips with everything canteen fodder”. Maybe leaving home at 7.15, hardly resting during the day, and returning at 20.00 was a contributory factor. Doc said I was underweight and killing myself with overwork so I retired early and now work “for myself”. I eat healthy food, have a much more relaxed work-life and will probably live longer. I’m just over 11 stone (still “underweight”) but my waist has gone up to 36” and I have a definite pot (which I don’t like and try to camouflage with clothes). My hips are less than my waist and my trousers keep falling down.

But I’m happy. Whatever your age and shape, if you’re happy that’s what matters. It’s what’s inside that counts.

And it’s said that you’re as young a person as you feel. So greet all your young relatives with a cuddle.

Charles March 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Hi John
I can’t help but agree that being happy is what counts. But I can’t really relate to a state of happiness that somehow wipes out or eliminates these other, not so happy, thoughts and feelings. Maybe I’m just not happy enough! But I’m still a 34 waist so who cares!

Evie March 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

“but why do we care about it, at all????”

Take away the people sizes & the clothing, accessories, make up, scents etc., and what are we left with?
A persona, maybe?

Yours is a lovely persona Anne. It takes nothing more than that to convince me to know you.

Looking at how others look, to me is just a creative interest. I find different appearances as interesting as seeing the different shapes and forms of flora and fauna.

Clothing to me, is just a wallet sized expression of our current mood when alone. In company, society has a silly habit of dictating how we should look. And sometimes we are bound by it, in order to not be excluded (work being a prime example).

Thank goodness society can’t get to our DNA…

yet!

Though I’m not sure about the colours they use in those DNA models:
http://www.dna-sequencing-service.com/tag/dna-models-kids/

anne March 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

Hey – those are marshmallows! (in your link.) Edible model… no escape, is there?
Evie – you’re very kind re my persona: thank you. And – I wonder how far our perception of ourselves (fat, thin, beautiful, ugly, old…) actually shapes us, in a kind of feedback loop? So that you can’t just strip away the exterior, because it’s a dynamic interaction? Influenced too by the way our appearance encourages people to respond to us in particular ways.
Must think about that….

Sue Beesley (@suebeesley) March 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I once went to a Murder Mystery night (with great trepidation and some reluctance) cast as a flame-haired actress and serial mistress. I wore a nylon mane of flowing red locks, ridiculous 6″ heels and a preposterously bust-enhancing corset. Well – I glowed, flirted outrageously and felt quite fabulous. It was a revelatory experience for a mousy-haired, 5’4″, cleavage-lacking woman. .

I strongly suspect that our physical characteristics do shape our personalities. So, changing our appearance with clothes, make-up, surgery or whatever as a means of changing our personality – or at least how we feel about ourselves – makes complete sense. If only I could be bothered….

anne March 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Sounds amazing! And it would. And it has to be equally true that not doing that must also shape us – doesn’t it work both ways?

But – we don’t consider those aspects and how we might be affecting ourselves as well as other people… Very interesting.

Evie March 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I would hate to escape marshmallows, Anne, they’re far too yummy!

anne March 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm

I know. Some of these pleasures matter = joy in life?

Evie March 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Yes. Joy. Marshmallows have never critisized my slight build or my aging process. If they could talk & they did, I’d just eat them! Far less stressful.
😀

Sacha Hubbard March 11, 2012 at 10:43 am

Well, the first thing I have to say is you’re not fat – it never even crossed my mind to think of you as ‘fat’, or indeed as anything other than yourself. You give the impression of someone confident (though I think many people do that even if they’re not) and I like the fact that you wear your clothes, they don’t wear you. I hate being overweight and the pounds have crept on over the last 10 years or so but while I’d like to be thinner because the sort of clothes I like look better on slim women, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Nor am I going to go down the route of wearing polyester upholstery fashion. On the other hand, I would like to beat up those in the fashion industry who talk about models being dangerously thin but actually, do nothing about it and make 15 year old girls up to look like skeletons with a heroin habit. I lose a lot of weight when I’m unhappy and it’s not a diet I recommend so I’ll go for the happy option! You look good in your own skin, Anne, you dress as an individual and you convey a genuine interest in the people you’re with and those are the truly important things to be and to do.

anne March 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

Think I will print this off and stick it on the front door to remind me of your kind words whenever I leave the house.
I’d share the beating up – and also chastise those designers who seem utterly unable to make clothes that look great on clothe loving, let’s say ‘larger’ (?) women. Meaning all designers?
And yes, the only time i was really thin (I have a picture to prove it) was a misery time. Not good..

Helen March 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

I would never describe you as beige in appearance!!

I know where you are coming from – I am going through a phase of feeling frumpy partly as my trousers are too tight and I refuse to buy a bigger size. I eat healthily but I am sure I dont do enough exercise despite the allotment and garden. Formal exercise to be is horrendous I can’t think of anything worse.

I dont drink or smoke and my only vice is late night munchies but its enough to cause the waistline to get tight. However, a life of virtuous healthy eating, as you say, would be dull. I enjoy my food far too much.

However I struggle with periods of self-doubt about my appearance. I have never been confident as a person and I suppose appearance is an easy thing to focus that lack of confidence on. As Victoria says I don’t dress for anyone and try to project who I am. I seem to get it right but then I stick to that for a number of years and then feel frumpy. I’m certainly not a slave to fashion but trying to find a look that works for me and looks good regardless of fashion is a nightmare. It doesnt help that retailers seem to cater for teens or my mother and not me.

I don’t want to be thin. I know people of my age who have dieted extensively and are thin and they look ill and older than they actually are. I just want to be healthy and comfortable in my body but that means a boost of self-confidence

anne March 11, 2012 at 9:40 am

Self doubt. Lack of confidence. And being surrounded by images of successful people looking good – not surprising perhaps that we focus on appearance when so much is made of it. I wonder how we would feel if there were no mirrors or photographs and we simply didn’t know what we look like?

Bridget March 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Presentation trainers tell you that how you look is as important as what you say if you want to be listened to. So of course we care how we look. And will choose a look to go with an occasion – attending a wedding is a different look from going to work or kitchen supper.
This is different from wanting to be thin. This is all to do with the shape mafia – now rich is thin where rich used to be fat, because the poor were thin. In modern developed economies this is reversed. We know now that thinner is living longer, more healthily etc etc. And clothes hang better too. But probably for most of us most of the time, it will make only a marginal difference.
So I would like to lose a stone, but to be frank this will not happen as my desire is not strong enough to outweigh my taste buds. My current piece of self denial is to prove to myself I can give up drink. I have (almost) and the self denial of only one glass at a formal dinner was worse than none at all. It hasn’t affected my weight though it has convinced me I have the self control. And weight loss is mostly self control. Anorexia is supposedly also linked to a desire for control……

anne March 11, 2012 at 9:34 am

Control….feeling in control and on top of things: you’re right, that matters. And you are adding an extra aspect of caring what you look like: having a job where not carrying weight will help you carry weight. You need to – look in control…

Sue Beesley (@suebeesley) March 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

As someone who has a great deal of choice about your lifestyle, logically you should adore your body and be proud of it. It is, after all the product of everything you have enjoyed, every pleasure you have sought, every indulgence indulged. You have spent your entire life creating it.

Now, it forms the frame on which you can place the clothes you love and enables you to display them for your own enjoyment and the pleasure of others too. I have a close friend who is plainly large (size 20ish?), but she always looks stunning. She dresses beautifully and carries herself with great grace – I have no idea how to do that. It is a skill I admire, but have no interest in acquiring. For my part, my own body is simply a set of tools which enable me to do the things I want to do. I’m grateful that it still works rather well, despite the occasional protest. I keep it warm and well fed and it mostly puts up with my demands for yet more activity in return.

I have no idea if you are fat or not. It’s not something I pay the least bit of attention to unless someone is markedly at one extreme or the other. You didn’t strike me as fat, but then, I couldn’t tell under that fabulous coat.

anne March 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

Love the idea of our bodies as our own unique creation: and ah, if we were logical!
It is a fab coat. I should just wear that, exclusively! Thanks, Sue. XXX

Paul Steer March 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

Why do we care about it? I don’t know, we seem to care so much about the things that really do not really matter a great deal. We find it difficult to accept that whichever way we present ourselves, either by dress or by the type of car we drive or the size of our onions (not sure where that came from) we will never be accepted by everyone. However, love covers over a multitude of wrongs. As a nurse working in the ‘preventative’ mode of health care…I see a lot of misery caused by anxiety over weight, and all my profession does is pile on the guilt . We are human beings, we are not perfect and life is not perfect, but it can be better when we experience acceptance.

anne March 11, 2012 at 9:26 am

“it can be better when we experience acceptance” – a generous and salutary thought. And you’re right – sometimes the medical profession and its propagandists seem to suggest that we’d live forever if you would only do as we’re told…..

Victoria March 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

How we dress is a statement about how we see ourselves. How we LOOK is a compromise between this aesthetic expression of ourselves and the reality of our bodies (short, tall, rounded, athletic, whatever). And comfort, of course.
Like any compromise, it’s slightly uneasy – I think anyone with any visual sense whatsoever will never be satisfied because they are aware that there will always be a gap between aspiration and substance. (A bit like gardening!)
For example, in theory I would be happy to spend my life in a baggy top and baggy trousers, but there are other factors (my height, my weight, my job, my sense of self-importance, to be brutally honest) that mean I would feel uneasy dressed like that in certain situations.
Most sensible women I know do not really dress to please other people (although they like it when people compliment them). They dress in a way that tells the world who they are. So when we care about our appearance, it’s not vanity so much as vigilance, I believe – the constant assessment of whether we are putting out the right message, or portraying an accurate self-image.
Unlike you, Anne, I feel uncomfortable wearing colours. (Even my perfume is called “Beige”!) I think this is because for most of my life I’ve been uncomfortable in the spotlight – I gave up studying music because of performance anxiety. I was very shy as a child – I used to let my twin sister do all the talking.
I don’t like to look “conventional”, but I like to look what I think of as stylish. I like to give the impression that I’m an intelligent, competent person, but I hate wearing a suit and I LOATHE wearing tights and high heels. For me, everyday dress is a process of “getting away with” the most comfortable clothes I can find, while at the same time looking like someone who can hold down a job. No wonder we care about how we look – there’s a lot to think about. Great post!

anne March 10, 2012 at 10:04 am

Great reply. Lot to think about there. Thank you…. (exits temporarily,thinking….)

anne March 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

Umm…living as many of us do, among strangers, how we look is a form of communication. How different would it be if we lived continually with the same small group? It seems when we lived in tribes we made jewellery, decorated our bodies, so it’s not just communication with strangers: we are never quite off stage unless alone?

I think I am not one of your sensible women, because I do dress to please other people- not exclusively, but I do think of their pleasure and the delight great clothes put together well can offer – part of the joy of living. I love watching passers-by in the right streets or in the kind of exhibition which attracts great dressers.

So I can love dressing up, as long as I can convince myself it ‘works’. (but avoid tights and high heels like the plague. However did they happen to us??) Then it is also absolute delight to return home and take all that stuff off and return to the wonderful comfortable.

Reckless gardener March 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

Having spent a lifetime struggling with weight, losing stones, putting stones back on again, I can understand your angst. I don’t binge either and I always feel as though I have committed some terrible crime by merely eating chocolate, which yes I love, but then it is addictive! For me the clothes situation is the most serious part of being overweight, designers seem to think overweight means ‘sack look’ and getting tailored clothes means spending lots of pennies for the large lady.

You don’t strike me as being overweight, I would say you are just someone with a fuller figure so don’t beat up on yourself Anne. I try and compensate by telling myself that people have to take me as I am, both the large and sometimes thinner me, and as long as you can get in those borders and do the weeding , don’t fret. I will never be thin, I know that now and really just concentrate on not getting larger! What we need is more designers making better clothes for the larger figure, then we can look nice no matter the size.

anne March 10, 2012 at 8:40 am

Ah..thank you ….but why do we care about it, at all????

Neil March 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Beats me. I like curves… I like looking at them and cuddling them, clothed and naked… Even Charles’

Charles March 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Haha! Give yourself a cuddle, too, while you are at it!

anne March 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm

great idea, Evie – eat the troublesome…

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