Into The Great Wide Open
During February Half Term, I went to the beach at Great Yarmouth, I stood on the sand in the middle of a freezing cold beach, held my arms out wide and Husbandface took a rather joyful photo of me. I baulked when I went to look at it, expecting the frame to be filled with my body. I am not a huge fan of having full body photos taken. But here I was, arms outstretched, breathing in the salty air and living my best life. Was I filling up the whole frame with my big fat body? Was I taking up the entirety of the beach with my ample arse? Nope, I was a small human in a large amount of space, which got me thinking about how much I think about “taking up space”. I often worry about the space I inhabit, I feel worried that my body will be taking up too much space, but not only that, I worry about the emotional and metaphorical space that I take up.
The physical space that I take up in my head is disproportionate to the actual physical space I actually take up. I, for instance, worry about chairs. Will I fit in that chair? What if I sit in that chair and I get stuck? What if my bum hangs out the side or back? What if I end up as an unfortunate re-enactment of Gwyneth Paltrow – mocked in a ‘fat suit’ breaking all the chairs? I often panic when I go into restaurants and bars, Husbandface knows this and will patiently wait for me to work out where I want to sit. This is not because I am a fussy cow, but because my anxiety goes sky high in case I’m stuck next to a mirror, or worse, in the middle of the restaurant. I worry for a number of reasons, I hate the idea that I might be too close to people and I might encroach on their feeding time and that they might judge my body and my food choices. I also do not like to have my back to the room, this could be a hypervigilance that is totally unneccesary, but I have to yield to it, what if some Fat-phobic crazed maniac starts towards me in a fit of rage? I need to see that shit coming! None of this is rational, I know that. Generally no one gives a shit what I’m eating, where I’m sitting and I’m also sure that they don’t feel the need to attack me. It is all projection on my part. But regardless, I’ll still keep my wits about me and a bread roll to hand as a weapon.
I drew this illustration because I have this weird notion that somehow I am going to roll over in the night and and squash my poor, slimmer than me, Husbandface. Or that somehow he has had to put up with me and my giant body taking up ALL the space. But it just isn’t true, in the past 5 years he has managed to make it through the night squash-free and intact. One of my friends, in my secret girl gang, asked me “Why do we feel like this?” upon seeing my illustration with loads of women in the group totally identifying with it. Again I had to go back to my fail-safe argument… it is the bloody impossible ideal put forward by the media. When we see people in bed on telly, on the big screen, in music videos or in advertisements, we are always presented by a heterosexual, probably white, beautiful couple, with beautiful faces and bodies. We suddenly realise that we don’t conform to these images. They don’t relay the reality of waking up – looking like shite, your breath like the Bog of Eternal Stench and your hair in peaks and horns or that after sex, you don’t just roll over and drift off to sleep, there is always going to be the inevitable bathroom dash! No one ever wakes themselves up shouting out something completely peculiar like “Mum, have you forgotten to get the dog milk from the dragon shop?”, or when you wake yourself by snorting or snoring, with that sting of drool hanging off your cheek. Or that beautiful moment when you wake yourself up farting (I like to call that the “dawn chorus”). Does Tom Cruise grind his teeth? does Beyoncé let one slip whilst snuggling up to Jay-Z? Probably… but we’ll never know about it. It’s not the ideal.
Psychological / Metaphorical Space
So, I sometimes get embarrassed by my own presence and sometimes think I can come across as a “bit much”. I’m actually not. Often I will try to shrink myself so small and clam up, hiding away. Other times I get “you’re so colourful! You are so confident!” It’s not true either, I’m generally a nervous wreck. You know that metaphor about the swan gracefully floating around but furiously paddling underneath…that’s me… Well except for the graceful part!!! But I worry and I have put so much worth into my physical appearance, that I assume it’s the same for my personality. However, I went to a prom with a bunch of kick-ass women and all I heard all weekend was how “nice” and “lovely” I am. I was excited to meet so many gorgeous ladies and blown away when they were excited to meet me too. It made me realise that sometimes I can forget that I am more than just a dress size. That being recognised as “lovely, nice, friendly and kind” filled my heart with so much joy, that I didn’t really think about “Fat” all weekend.
So I suppose what I am saying is – enjoy the space you take up! I promise you that it is not the HUGE IMPOSING space you think it is. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there will always be the man who shouts things from a van, a teenager with attitude who says something hurtful, the cashier who comments on your food (yes…this has happened to me repeatedly), the flippant comments like “a moment on the lips…”, the “helpful people” telling you whether something is flattering or not and the whisperers who are too scared to share what judgemental bastards they are. BUT consider this…what about the space you take up in your home, in someone’s heart, in their thoughts and their life…??? What would fill that space if you weren’t there…??? NOTHING!!! Because you are meant to fill that space and without you it would be an empty hole.
So by the way my BEAUTIFUL people, did I tell you…? Be proud of the space you take up… Your people value it, and so should you. ❤️❤️❤️