The other week I took a long look at myself in the mirror. It was probably the first time that I’d done so in two or three weeks. I’d been busy with work, a social life and I’d just had a birthday – much too busy to be worrying about body image. However, as the wintery chills rolled over the mountains and into my lounge room, I started going out a little less, making fewer plans and honouring even fewer. So here I was at home on a Friday night, examining body in the mirror.
I noticed a small line forming along the soft underbelly of my chin, outlining my pre-existing chin line. It was the beginnings of a ‘double-chin’, a part of my body that I hadn't met before. I freaked out immediately. I’d have to stop eating burgers. I should really commit to my new years plan to take myself on a vigorous afternoon walk and it was probably about time that I started utilising the gym situated 150 metres across the road from my house because I didn’t want to get FAT.
My feelings of unease were only amplified the following day when I found myself thrown between the sheets with a fun dude. There’s nothing like having your naked body pressed upon someone else’s naked body to really set off your body insecurities like a dodgy firecracker. All of a sudden I was very aware of my shape and the way that it would have felt in someone else’s hands.
I’ve always been blessed with a curvy bod. I've got one of those wavy bodies that dips and rises like a mountain range, but every now and then I actively despise these parts of my body. I hate the dimples in my upper leg, my potbelly filled with dumplings and a variety of sweet treats and the way that my eyebrows sit straight across my face like two tiny little caterpillars hanging out on the edge of a pot plant. I am lucky that 'big butts' have become ‘a thing’ though because I haven’t felt ashamed of mine since I was fourteen, so that’s a win I guess.
Feeling the heaviness of my own body for the first time in weeks was a sobering experience. It’s funny how one week you can feel curvy and sensational and the next you're pudgy and unattractive. I guess it's all a cruel game played by our, at times, cruel minds.
I spent exactly 24 hours feeling stressed about getting fat. Over that time, I planned out ways to prevent myself from gaining any more weight: eat less, move more, diet pills? It was a fucked mindset to be in and one that I’m sure most people are familiar with. What pulled me out of my fat funk was listening to a This American Life podcast titled: Tell Me I’m Fat. I highly recommend that you have a listen as it truly changed my perception of my own body. The podcast, hosted by the wonderful Ira Glass – God himself - hosts four acts speaking with a variety of people including: Lindy West, Elna Baker and Roxanne Gay, all of whom have a story to tell around their personal experiences of their bodies.
I won't reveal too much, but in light of the whole Roxanne Gay/Mamamia controversy, it's worth a listen. This is an excellent example of how Mia Freedman should have approached her interview with Gay. Ira talks with Gay about her experiences, as opposed to about her. He facilitates conversation throughout the interview while always allowing Gay to speak freely and share what she was comfortable with.
After listening to these wonderful women speak my whole perspective shifted. I realised that I didn't have to 'be' a certain way and I shouldn't ever have to change something about my body, unless it's having negative impact on my physical or mental health and even then, that's a choice that I get to make all by my fucking self.
I literally brought myself an ice-cream upon having this realisation and I’m dairy intolerant, so that’s saying something.
Growing into a woman means that you sometimes get bigger, rounder, fuller. Our hips are bigger, full of sexual experiences, our stomachs are stretched out, full of delicious meals and our legs get a little thicker because we need the extra strength in order to stand tall in the face of adversity.
Kate Neilson is a list maker and a booty shaker. She is the creator of Twenty Something Humans and can be lurked @katiepotatierose.