I have a confession to make. One which puts me on the enemy list for many, many mothers.
I have a thigh gap.
My BMI is on the low end of healthy, but I eat well and I am very physically active. I swim every day, walk for miles each day, and now go to the gym twice a week. Whilst I realise that all that exercise is odd, I genuinely enjoy it. But it gets me no end of criticism.
Before my husband left I was a size 14. I was at the top end of the healthy BMI range. Then he left and for a few weeks I didn’t eat. I just felt too dejected and vile, and food made me feel sick. Then I moved into my new house in the town and gave up my car, thus beginning the miles of walking each day. The weight fell from not eating, then the dramatic increase in exercise kept it off.
I don’t believe in shaming. I don’t believe in fat shaming. But I also don’t believe in skinny shaming.
We shame other women constantly for their bodies. We put unrealistic expectations and demands on curvier women, making them feel that they have to lose weight to be beautiful. Then when they do lose weight we shame them for conforming to beauty industry standards and “letting the side down”.
Facebook posts are constantly about how “real men like curves”, “nobody wants to cuddle a skeleton”, “hips and boobs are what make a woman sexy”.
I do not have curves, I’ve got A cup boobs and a small bum. I have never had hips, indeed my narrow hips caused me extreme problems in giving birth. I am still a woman. I am a fit woman, I am a healthy woman, but I am a small one.
Would I like bigger boobs? Yeah probably. My first bra when I was 12 was a 34B. I am now a 34A. I have children’s boobs. I went to buy new smaller bras and literally had to search the shelves just to find ones that were small enough and go with the few styles that were available, rather than selecting the styles I liked best. So yeah, it’s not ideal. But I’m okay with it. For a while I felt miserable about it, but now I don’t. I’ve got small boobs. Meh.
Would I like a bigger bum? Yeah, I think big bootylicious girl bums are fab. But I don’t have one. Little bums are fine too.
The shaming must stop.
If you are unhealthy and underweight, then get advice and change it. If you are unhealthy and overweight, then get advice and change it. Gain weight, lose weight, do what is right for YOU. But don’t criticise and judge other women for not making the same choice as you. For not looking the same as you. And if you are healthy and happy as you are, do not feel like you have to change it because someone else thinks you ought to look differently. There is nothing more beautiful than a happy, healthy woman.
Variety is the spice of life, and when I look at the broad range of women I am friends with, they’re a spicy lot. There are tall women, short women, curvy women, skinny women. There are women of all ages and races. Women from around the whole world. And they’re bloody beautiful and most of them don’t believe it.
I think it’s time to believe it.