Thursday, 15 September 2011

Treasure The Ordinary

Treasure the ordinary. My Daughter is back from her trip down south and though its only been a couple of days, life already seems to be settling into something resembling, well, ordinary life. This morning I took the Daughter to the kindergarten for the first time in almost three months, and what a joy it was to watch her being greeted by her friends calling out how much they'd missed her, to see them encircling her in the yard, asking for her to tell where she'd been, to tell everything. And as I left her there, full of stories of summer, and headed to the university myself, I couldn't have cared less about the grey, drizzly weather, about the exam I am not prepared for or the deadlines I've missed, about the car making strange noises or the fact that as I hurried to dress this morning I put on a pare of holey stockings. Sure, my life could be so much more organised, so much more, well, efficient. So much more of so many things. But it isn't. And it's all life.

Last night I dreamed of running. Not running away from something. Not escaping. But running, purely for the joy of movement. I was running through fields and forest, feeling the wind on my skin and smiling for the joy of being able to move so effortlessly. For the joy of my legs not being in pain, my heart pumping blood to my veins easily, oh so easily. I watched the ground as it sped underneath my feet, the sky. Even now, I can easily get a hold of that feeling. I remember that feeling. And I hope against hope that one day I can again feel that feeling since right now that, if anything, is what I lack. Not health, as such, because that I will never have, but to be healthy enough. Treasure the ordinary. I say that again. Because to everyone who has health, it is ordinary. You do not think of it. It is a part of your ordinary existence. Until it ceases to be. And at that point, at least in my case, no amount of money in the world can buy it back. There are things that you can do, but when it's gone it's gone.

Which brings me to food. I've again had to revise my eating regime to make sure I am getting all the necessary vitamins and stuff so that at least what I eat is not working against me in stabilising this pesky little lupus thingy. And don't get me wrong, this is no diet I am talking about here, but rather making sure that I get what my body needs to get nutritionally. I mean, I like food. I like cooking it. Baking it. And eating it. Which is not a problem for me because I do not cater to the idea of there being one-size-fits-all. In anything, really, let alone lookswise. I am tall. I am curvy.  I am a big handsome gal. As I was leafing through some images online, my Daughter saw this one and immediately shouted out loud: '' Mommy, that's YOU!'' Oh. Ok. That's cool.

She does look
kinda familiar...

For a long time in my life I listened to some people very close to me telling me to wear a certain style of a shoe because it made my feet look delicate and look now, I do not have delicate feet. Not by a long shot. They are short, wide and pretty much mangled up from pointe ballet shoes. And I remember all those comments about not wearing a certain length in a skirt or dress because it was not becoming due to my strong, muscular calves. Yes. I have calves that refuse to fit into any regular sized boot. Always did. Even when I was very, very much smaller than I am today my calves had a life of their own. So, did I only wear that certain style of shoe or skirt length? Of course I did not. I wore what I wanted, but little sneaky comments like this still tend to lodge themselves inside the deep recesses of your brain matter and pop up when you least want them to. Today, though, I tell these little comments to take a hike. I think one of the best compliments I've ever gotten was very recently in a rockabilly sorta evening happening. It was already very late, I was feeling less than fresh as a daisy and me and my Harley Hairy Person were getting ready to leave when a friend of his looked me up and down, then did the same to him and said: '' You both just look so completely like yourselves.'' Love that. Just love that. 

And you know what, not a long time ago I was asked if I wanted to become a model. As in a plus size model. Now. Plus what? Does that mean I am over some mystery line in size after which a woman becomes out of line? Naturally, I got a bit curious and did some internet searching on the topic of 'plus size' and whoopsadaisy... A so-called regular woman is apparently around 164cm tall and wears a size 42-44 (UK14-16/US12-14). The average so-called regular model is about 180cm tall and wears a size 32-34 (UK4-6/US2-4). And what they call a plus size model is generally a woman who is almost as tall as a regular model but most often wears a size 40-42 (UK12-14/US10-12). Confusing, eh....

They call her
a plus size model.

And this is obviously
the ever so lovely
Christina Hendricks.
Widely touted in the media
as being
plus size...

So this is what we
as women
should model 
ourselves to?


And just to give you an idea
of how things have
been changing, here is
what models
used to look like...

They would
probably call her
fat today.

I don't mean that there aren't some people who are naturally very, very thin, because of course there are. Just like there are people who are very short, very tall, very redheaded, very blonde, very anything. But when you hear the alarming reports of eating disorders starting to show up in girls as young as 5 or 7 years old, you really, and I mean really, should get a  bit concerned. The plain truth here is that media is obviously not showing us a representation of women as we are, and if you compare the image of women in media to the one of men you don't really have to delve all that deeply to see that the variety of roles and images given to men are much more varied and permissible, more real. Even when it comes to what they call celebrities. The men, it seems, don't really look all that strange, but just take a look at the women. What in the name of lord is going on in here? 

She says she is
does not watch 
her weight
loves to eat...

This is something I feel quite strongly about. Both because I grew up in the world of ballet and gymnastics that was nothing if not productive to all sorts of eating disorders, but also because I am a mother. And my Daughter is built just like me. Already taller than her peers, with a muscular, strong build. And it chills me to the core to hear of children only about six months older than her having eating disorders because they have been told that they have to be thin. Delicate. Skinny. I don't want my Daughter to ever question her body, no matter what shape or size it is. She will, I know, but I wish she didn't have to. And that's why I tell her that she is beautiful. That she is smart and strong and brave. Just as she is.

Card from

And I never did take up on that modeling offer. Not the one for lingerie modeling either... Though I have to say that after the initial open mouthed shock subsided I laughed and told the woman running the lingerie boutique that while I was very happy that they would like to be represented by someone like me, practically forty with all these happy little lumps and bumps and stripes and scars, it was really not for me. I probably went home and did a little baking. A little reading. And sat down in the evening in the faded pink velvet armchair in the corner of my Daughters room and watched her sleep. Curled my short, stubby feet and chunky calves underneath my thighs with the circumference of a supermodels waist, and again thought how lucky I am that I get to live an ordinary life. Ok. Maybe not so ordinary, but what passes for ordinary in my quirky, un-super-modelly, so-not-celebrity life. 

This here is pretty much the only song I've ever sung to my Daughter, a lot, when she was a baby. And Puff The Magic Dragon, of course. And sometimes, she still asks me to sing this one. And I do. Completely and utterly out of tune and creakily and squeakily I massacre the little song and yet she hums and sways to it, and that my dears, that is acceptance. That is her, loving me, just as I am.


  1. When I gave up reading beauty magazines, I started loving my own 'normal' body more. I didn't do any fad diets or crazy exercise regimes before this summer and I felt great being natural.
    And, yes, I agree - ordinary life rocks!