Knowing, as well as I do, the very beautiful girl who is Lily Todd, it would be with great ease that I could proclaim her list of attributes; physical and otherwise; superlatives would surely abound. I could play the ‘You have a gorgeous husband and have given birth twice’ card; the ‘I know for a fact you turn heads as I have been there when they turned’ card and the ‘you wanna see curves come look in my mirror’ card; the last only in desperation…
However, I realise, that no matter how great a hand I played, neither Lily, nor any other 21st century girl would give credence to the full house of opinion I placed on the table.
History tells us that women are, have been and will forever remain their own worst enemies. Never has there been a more critical judge or scathing enemy than the one you avoid in the full length mirror.
My own ‘curvaceous silhouette’ is significantly curvier than I ever (as a flat-chested thirteen year old) wanted it to be. Like Lily, and like every woman walking the planet, I have my own demonic voice inside my head: she (among many other mean-spirited accusations) equates my size with my eternal state of singledom; she makes me reach for the chocolate.
Size is inextricably equated with sexiness. That I share a dress size with Marilyn Monroe lends little retribution. My smaller, quieter voice tells me: I’m sexy enough (or have big enough breasts) to have drunken one-night stands with, I have enough ‘inner beauty’ to be male friend’s Girl Friday but I lack the ‘whole package’ (or have too whole a package) to be somebody’s someone.
I can blame my ‘curves’ on a range of variables:
1. Genetics: child bearing hips are a family heirloom- passed on from one generation of women to the next.
2. A childhood spent in farmhouse kitchens full of fresh baking and with Grandparents who equated sweets with love.
3. I eat the ‘live alone’ diet too much coffee with the obligatory biscuits; of having cereal for dinner then late night snacks of all manner of fat-filled delights or the ever easy ‘take-out for tea’.
4. I ABHOR all forms of exercise (PE was my weekly torture, at school) or to be honest, I’m too lazy to exercise- it gets in the way of my lying around time.
5. My name is ‘Carrie’ and I’m a Chocoholic.
Or to summarise I eat the wrong things, at the wrong time and never get my flabby butt off the settee to do anything about it.
I share Lily’s moral dilemma. As a teacher I (in fact we both) face the daily burden of being in a position of influence. The pupils in my classroom increasingly belong to the camps at the extreme ends of the weight balance (plunging dangerously towards size zero or aiding the ballooning of childhood obesity figures). Along with teaching spellings and apostrophes and striving to inspire a love of Shakespeare; I also use my influence to rage against the concept of feminine beauty as dictated by the mysoginistic media machine.
(My utter hatred of Lara Croft is a widely- known fact, in school circles. The cartoon- generated Lara is so “top-heavy” that her spine could not in reality support her fantastical breasts. A female action figure who suggests brawn over brains as an answer to world devastation (or whatever the hell goes on in those games) is not an role model for this generation of hormonally charged young men and women- yet I digress.)
I preach the virtues of ‘searching for the inner beauty’; of valuing the substance rather than the style. I have absolutely no qualms in realising that a person’s worth is never measured in how they look. I metaphorically pummel my cellulite covered behind with a UNICEF imprinted bat, that reminds me, I should be grateful to live in a country that can feed itself.
But much like the list of superlatives I offered Lily, my virtuous offerings fall on deaf and slightly uneven ears. This is an issue rooted deep in every female psyche. Every woman has something she physically wants to change about herself. Deep down it is not the acceptance of the could be boyfriend; the intellectually challenging and gorgeous husband or even her best friend that she is seeking. Every woman is on a journey and the final destination is the inner acceptance of the outer you.
If Lily wants to run towards that destination, who am I to get in her way?
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