Bikini Bodies: (part 3) Bobbing, Boggarts and Body Shopping

A whole year after I had 3 mini epiphanies that set in motion the whole body positivity thing for me, and I’m still trying to find my way. Some days it’s like I’m following a beacon of light and other days it’s like I’ve been given a map with no names on and no idea where I’m heading. Some days it’s like I’ve set fire to the map, blown away the ashes and just gone back to bed. It’s not easy and some days I have to accept that I need help or reassuring. Being on holiday, for me, is one of those scary but reassuring things. The usual dread of, “Holy shit I’m about to get my wobbly bits out in public!”, is usually placated by the time you realise that no one actually gives a shit and that they are enjoying the sun and free beer too much to worry about whether the chubby girl next to them has her stuff on show. In fact, I imagine that they may probably worry more about their own wobbly bits, although the Europeans (our hotel consisted of a lot more Germans and Dutch than ‘Brits abroad’) are much more daring in their choices of swimwear – I saw a lot more ‘bottoms’ and ‘breasticles’ on show than you ever would at Herne Bay sea front!

There was also a strange pool, which I liked to refer to as the “basting pool” where the real sun worshippers would reside. It was like a giant ‘Bain Marie’, full of cooking humans. I am virtually a vampire, so wouldn’t even consider getting in this, but also I was also frightened of being so exposed and of putting my body out there among the ‘beautiful’ bronzed and baking people. All those couples in the pool laughing and cuddling… obviously a fat girl can’t be seen doing that!…LIKE FUCK … I was in that pool, wrapped around Husbandface, feeling weightless and living my best life. It felt marvellous! I LOVE being in water, it’s where weight didn’t matter one jot, I got to float, bob and even pick up my husband in a hilarious role reversal. I got to sit and float on a marvelous giant pink flamingo, feeling glorious and alive and my body didn’t determine whether I got to have fun, laughing so loudly and joyously that it drew attention as well as reciprocal smiling.

My BoPo road map had become a little bit creased and torn, upon arriving in Spain, so I brought some tools with me. I made sure I had some BoPo literature to help bolster my BoPo sensibilities. One book had some really interesting points, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was being sold another ‘life-style’, not unlike ‘diet culture’. The second read was the follow up to the book that I credit for helping me to find BoPo, by Jes Baker. This giant second helping of ‘truth pie’ was just what I needed.

In her book, ‘Landwhale’ Jes Baker talks about her past and the influences from her childhood that sparked her self-hatred. I spotted in myself the other week that I can be a bit of a ‘big fat cheater’, now I’ve binned off my scales, stopped measuring, tried to stop feeling my belly, I’ve started to do something else… I ask Husbandface how I look, I get him to be my measuring stick, my scales, my mirror. I was all ready to write a post on what a big fat cheater I was (see screenshot below) and how I was sneakily bordering on addict like behaviour, getting him to make a measure of my body and replacing the scales with Husbandface’s opinion. However, upon reading Jes Baker’s take on it, she describes how her fiancĂ© likens it to an episode of Ghost Busters, where a creature turns itself into your fear and how sometimes he needs to fight her self-loathing for her, when she’s too tired, sad or empty. Fascinated by this, I had Husbandface read this chapter. I was like, “this is you, this is what you do for me”. He agreed but pointed out it’s more like a (big Harry Potter reference here) ‘Boggart’ for me – you may need to Google this! I don’t know what my worst fear is until it climbs out of the wardrobe that day and confronts me. It could be my fatness, my fear of failure, my fear of being unloved or secretly hated….and let’s not forget my self-loathing….threatening to overwhelm me. Sometimes I’m too tired to fight my own Boggart, so sometimes I need Husbandface to be my Professor Lupin and jump in when my Dementor for that day is just too strong. Sometimes I need to turn it into something different, give it some roller skates, or as I tend to do, take a selfie, or write something. I sometimes just need to remind myself that the Boggart is just that, a nasty monster feeding off my fears. It doesn’t get to define my worth, my creativity or my very existence.

So the Boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a Boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears” (Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Akzkaban)

Whilst reading all these BoPo books, as well as the awesome and fascinating ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman, I caved in to one of my guilty pleasures. I picked up a copy of ‘Now’ magazine from an area in the hotel where people left their finished books and magazines etc. I was drawn by a headline about Davina McCall and also the fact that I used to love a bit of gossip. However, I was highly amused by the fact that I picked up the magazine, and before I even got my grubby little mitts on it, Husbandface had his nose in it.

I read the article and it made me mad, firstly as she was being body shamed, but also as Davina herself made remarks to the tune of ‘wanting to look good in a bikini in her 50s’. I was a tad disappointed with Davina. Now it might be about HER body issues, but ANYONE can look good in a bikini regardless of age, weight, size, scars, ability, ethnicity, etc. Weirdly the magazine was all over the place with how it dealt with body issues, in some articles it was bigging up ladies who’d been body shamed and in the next was giving out advice on diets etc.
I just think the damage these magazines are capable of is HUGE. I admittedly used to love to see ‘stars’ being ‘exposed’, but now it makes me really uncomfortable. It doesn’t make me any less fat and these are actual human beings being publicly judged and shamed. It is damaging and toxic for our young people to see this, it teaches them that they are not ok, but also that it is ok to judge and say cruel things. Stacey Solomon this week called out ‘Now!’ magazine on a particularly cruel headline about her, and damn fucking right!….And don’t even get me started on “Revenge Bodies”… Like what the ACTUAL fuck!!??!!

I used to do this thing, admittedly sometimes I still do, where I would shop for a new body. It’s particularly easy to do when you’re by the side of the pool. “Oh she has a nice flat tummy”, “ooh she’s got a bum that works with that thong”, “ooohh perky boobs”, “she must be a size (insert size I’d want to be at that moment)”, “I’d love her legs”, “even her tummy hair is perfect (yep, I’m a weirdo)” etc. I can’t be the only one. I’ve even ‘body-shopped’ myself, looking at pics of me at 21 and thinking “ohhh … I’d kill to look like that” (that poor girl thought she looked disgusting). Anyway, at lunch, I was wistfully looking out of the restaurant terrace, out towards the pool. Right in my eye-line this beautiful, elegant lady in a long dress appears at her sunbed. Long, tanned limbs and hair pinned up, messy, but chic. She slid the straps off and just stepped out of her dress, folded it and sashayed to the pool. I envied how together she was, how graceful. I turned to Husbandface and explained the lovely lady’s entrance to the pool. We laughed about the fact that if that was me, I’d trudge up to the sunbed, get the dress caught on the way down, probably trip over it and would walk to the pool with a piece of loo roll stuck to my foot! My question….”why can’t I be like her?”. Husbandface “…because you’re you and YOU are wonderful”. So it’s just that, I can shop as much as I like, but I can’t change my physicality or my essence. Even looking back when I was 21, I’m not her anymore, not in looks, body, personality, tastes or anything. I’m me, and I’m ME NOW! And she’s pretty ok, Boggarts and all.

By the way, did I tell you…? It’s ok to have Boggarts and it’s ok to not always have the strength to fight them yourself. Find your spell or your Professor Lupin and keep them at bay which ever way you can, because you are wonderful just as you are.

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