Just say no to January diets…

Saturday night outfit shots: I bought this size 16 Karen Millen dress on ebay, knowing that Karen Millen sizes come up small and praying it would fit… It’s too big. But ideal for an evening during which food was the main event!

Yesterday early evening, Dapper and I curled up in front of the TV to find Gentlemen Prefer Blondes showing. In between synchronised sighing over those astonishingly wide hips, gravity-defying breasts and hand-span-tiny waists, we were inundated with adverts for weight-loss products and plans, low-fat alternatives and fitness regimes, to the point that I lost my temper, growled at the TV and stormed into the kitchen to rustle up a casserole in defiance.

The pressure put upon us all to skinny-up after Christmas is really starting to grate on me of late. I’m a girl who has had her fair share of body confidence issues, and am incredibly lucky to have reached a point this year that I can say I’m not only happy with my shape, but downright proud of my curves. Reading Cat’s blog, Tea and Feathers today reaffirmed that I’m not the only person who’s beginning to settle into their figure and accept the extra few lbs that creep on over the festive season – and it’s so refreshing to hear positive body image messages coming from the mouths of – and I use this phrase to mean normal, everyday, real-life women, of every shape and size – Real Women.

Birthday boy and I

This weekend was my old uni friend James’ 30th birthday party. He had booked us all into a beautiful luxury hotel in the Cotswolds, and the party element centred around food. Whether it was afternoon tea on arrival – hot buttered crumpets, scones with clotted cream, brownies and ginger cake – the evening meal – in my case hors d’oeuvres including delicious shell-on king prawns, battered calamari, olives, cured meats, houmous, followed by a beautiful venison with fondant potato and parsnip puree, treacle pudding with ice cream and cheese – or breakfast – help-yourself-to-continental followed by a full English fry-up – the food played a central role in the whole weekend. Which obviously works for me, being such a huge fan of eating as I am…

In past years I’ve been very self-conscious about what I’m seen to be eating. The old “if they see me eating this pie will they judge me?” question can completely ruin a meal out, in fact, an entire evening. One of the joys of finding comfort with your own shape is freedom from such thoughts – the freedom to tuck into treacle sponge without fear of anyone telling you pointedly that it’ll go straight to your hips or glancing deliberately towards your pot belly – and the freedom to approach afternoon tea determined to test one of everything on the table!

The end result of this change in attitude, aside from cultivating unreasonable reactions to run-of-the-mill January advertising campaigns, is that I was able to pass the entirety of my weekend away without a shred of self-consciousness or a thought spared for what passed my lips. I was able to extol the venison and the treacle pudding to my neighbours without even considering whether their eyes were checking out my bingo wings, and dig into the brie and grapes on the cheese board completely unashamedly, without even bothering to dress up my amorous advances with cream crackers or water biscuits. In short, I was able to really enjoy myself.

Four pink penguins, all dressed up to party!

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13 thoughts on “Just say no to January diets…

  1. YES! That’s the reaction I had to Cat’s post and also to yours. The pressure that is put on us to diet in January is ridiculous – I get especially angry at the ‘New Year – New You’ type advertorials you see everywhere at this time of the year, it’s pathetic. What’s the sense in telling people that they have to punish themselves for having enjoyed Christmas? It makes me so angry.

    It makes me happy to hear you say that you’ve found body confidence this year, because you’re beautiful. You’re beautiful because you’re you, and that shines through you so I’m glad that you can see that when you look at yourself in the mirror. I’ve been finding this increasingly over the past year or so myself and it is so FREEING. So, hurrah for you my darling. You’re gorgeous 🙂

    • Thank you darling. Yes – freeing is exactly right. And I think you’re right, that it’s ridiculous to tell people to punish themselves for having enjoyed a month of celebration and socialising. Everything in moderation, but with the occasional slip into excess 😀 xxx

  2. I completely agree with what you, Roisin and Cat have said about January diets! I find the whole binge and starve attitude to food perpetuated by magazines and alike disgusting. Mid winter is such a dark and horrible time that celebrations like Christmas and New Year (including lots of yummy food and drink- obvs!) are socially very valuable. I think shaming people for enjoying these furthers the myth that people should feel guilty when they eat anything more than the most meagre morsel.

    I find the whole business very hard to stomach. I’m just so glad that intelligent and beautiful bloggers such as yourself are writing about the more important issue of positive body image!

    Love the Karen Millen dress by the way.
    Take care x

    • Thanks Victoria, I think you’re quite right, particularly in relation to this being the worst time of year for cultivating guilt. We all come out of Christmas feeling a bit let down, deflated, and often (particularly this year) recovering from illness, and the last thing we need are constant reminders from every media quarter to deepen our shame. That’s what makes me so angry about all the weight loss programs, diets, celebrity workouts… They perpetuate the guilt, then feed off it.

      Glad you like the dress! 😀 x

  3. Freeing is exactly the word I was thinking as I read through your post, too! Once you learn to appreciate yourself and take unashamed pleasure in all the things that make you you, it really does feel like a release, doesn’t it?

    You really are beautiful, and there is nothing so beautiful as a person who knows who she is and has the confidence to love being herself. 🙂

    • Yes – freeing, enlightening, generally an incredible relief! The weight of some of the issues I had carried for at least a dozen years had me in such a dark place early in 2010, I was actually really concerned for my own mental health. It was a slog to get out of, but to finally see things from such a different perspective made all the baby steps and moments of hardship worthwhile. I’m so glad to read others are in the same place as I am. 😀

  4. I caught the last half hour of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which is ashame as I love the film, I didn’t notice the adverts because I was too busy spending that time on eBay looking for a size 16 Travilla suit so that I could look just like Jane Russell too. I didn’t find one, but the point is I love my womanly curves, and I would never dream of getting rid of them, even if I could but since every woman in my family is very curvy I think my genes would protest. We’re women, we’re meant to have them! It’s fabulous that you’ve gained confidence in yourself too, I think you are uber glam… I hope you think so too! xx

    • Oh my god, the suits! I need Marilyn’s white collared Parisienne two piece and beret…

      Thank you, lady, I too think you’re extremely glamourous. It always makes me laugh that Dapper refers to you as either “60s Louise” or “Beehive Louise” when I mention your blog or, for example, the All Dressed Up exhibition… xx

  5. I’ve been umming and ahhing over what to write here for a long time…but all I can say is that this is all very easy to say when you’re fairly averagely sized or below. There’s nothing unhealthy about telling people they shouldn’t eat so much, and that they should move more.

    Positive body image is all very well and good, but in reality there’s nothing positive about being very/drastically overweight. There is no point in me being positive about my body because it needs to change – and I’m not embarrassed to say that, because it’s true. I think in some ways the anger most people feel about being told to slim down I feel when someone says I should “embrace my curves”.

    A healthy balance is what should be encouraged. No more, no less.

    • Of course, you’re entirely correct from a health perspective that some people – myself included – would be healthier if they carried less weight. But my relationship with my body has never really been about my health. It has always been about how people are looking at me, judging me, calling me greedy, thinking me ugly. The difference lately is that I don’t feel that hideousness anymore. I still get out of breath rushing for the train, or running after the dogs, and I’m still aware that a slimmer Caroline would be lighter on her feet and therefore more comfortable in heels, but I’m not as concerned that the entire world is thinking me vile to look at. It has actually dawned on my for the first time that some people find the rubenesque/pre-raphaelite look attractive.

      Health is the most important factor, absolutely. But a healthy internal monologue is doing wonders for my soul. xxx

      • I think I need to clarify that the reason I put this was because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your shape, size, weight, anything! I do have strong feelings on the subject, but they’re not related to you 🙂

        • There’s nothing wrong with my size, shape, etc in your opinion, but trust me, I know plenty of people who think I am hideously overweight and unhealthy/unattractive. I fall into the “overweight” category when I go to the nurse, and she tells me I need to lose just over a stone to hit target. Members of my family would like to see me slimmer too.

          But feeling unhealthy and feeling unhappy in your own skin ought to be completely separate issues – and being as unhappy as many of us are or have been because of our shape is what I’m condemning. Wanting to be healthier is admirable: a weightloss company cashing in on, even nurturing post-Christmas guilt is not acceptable in my eyes. xxx

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