Something’s bugging me. Yes, the kids, obviously, but that’s not what I want to blog about today. Something else.
I’m tired of hearing people talk as though everything worth doing should be done by the time they’re 30, and that after that they may as well go and lie down in lush green pastures and become part of the soil. Society puts a ridiculous amount of value on youth, and corporations benefit by selling tonnes of wrinkle cream, diet drinks, hair replacement treatments and fitness dvds as we chase after a time that has already passed, and wasn’t that great in the first place. Seriously, do you remember being really young? The media would have us believe that teens and those in their early twenties are flitting around, beautiful and coiffed, having the most fun and the best sex, all without shouldering an ounce of responsibility.
Erm, I call BS. Maybe it’s just me but I remember that time as an endurance marathon of endless drama and angst, punctuated with a few decent nights spent at the park with a bottle of wine. I was too busy worrying about our surprise pregnancy to care what shape my eyebrows were (on a side note, someone want to explain the current eyebrow scene to me? Or why everyone’s covering their mouths in selfies?) or to appreciate the fact that my boobs and gravity still had an amicable relationship.
Anyway, to the point. I went shopping yesterday and was moseying around New Look when I saw a cute two-piece outfit, a little crop top and high waisted skirt. I had no intention of buying it but I reached out to feel the fabric, just because. At the same time a lady who must have been in her 50s did the same thing, and our fingers touched briefly.
“It’s lovely, isn’t it,” I said, smiling at her.
She gave me an awkward smile. “Oh it’s not for me, love,” she said apologetically, half laughing and embarrassed.
And this is what I’m pissed about. She would have rocked that outfit. Goodness knows with maybe her kids grown and gone she probably has more places to wear it than I do. But her comment suggested that she’d internalised the message that only young, slim bodies are for show- those with no wrinkles or rolls, no sags or creases or stretch marks, that those bodies are acceptable for showing and that hers was not. Screw that. Older women should wear whatever they like. Younger women should wear whatever they like. Fat women, thin women, scarred women- we all have a responsibility to ourselves to value ourselves and our bodies, and not punish ourselves if it’s not our idea of perfection. We don’t owe anyone the courtesy of hiding behind clothes that we consider frumpy or solely practical, just because we may not be the accepted beauty norm. When I see bigger girls wearing crop tops it makes me smile, because yes, own it. Take up space. Don’t apologise for being in eyeshot of others.
As the woman walked off, I didn’t know what to say. I mumbled “You’d look great, you should get it,” but I was worried I’d sound disingenuous. I wish I’d given her the same sermon I’m writing now. I hate to think people are making value judgements on themselves based on a crappy points system designed by immoral companies to sell snake oil products.
I went back to the changing room and picked up the shiny, crimped pink skirt and cropped floral top that I’d left on the rail. I loved them on the hanger, so why had I thought they looked less good on me? If I don’t value myself as much as I value a hanger, something has gone very wrong with the world.
My kids took one look at my outfit when I got home and they just burst with exuberance and joy: “You look SO BEAUTIFUL, Mummy!”
And I knew I’d done the right thing. Body shaming is not part of the inheritance I’m leaving my kids.
Travel journalists, home educating our lovely brood of 3 girls. Planning a year-long RTW trip late Summer 2017.