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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tell us the truth - we are big girls and can take it

When I first met my partner back in 1997, I was a slim and petite size 8. The pounds, not to mention my girth, have steadily increased over the years, so I am now a size 12.

A week or so ago, I was going through my wardrobe as one does, deciding which clothes to throw away and which clothes to keep, when I came across an old pair of jeans labelled as size 12. When I laid these on the bed side by side with a pair I bought more recently in the same size, I was surprised to find that the new ones were a good couple of inches larger. This means that the old size 8 that I used to wear would now be a size 6, only one size up from the infamous size zero (a UK size 4) that is so universally loathed and detested, and not without good reason.

As a size 8, I was not unhealthy or unnaturally skinny, but the size that was right for my small frame and limited height (5 feet and half an inch). Today as a size 12 (an old size 14) , I am almost 2 stone overweight, largely due to lack of exercise and too much junk food - the evils of our modern society. It is to some extent, a symptom of the deep unhappiness I have felt, as I eat in order to fill the void, which of course never works. It just adds to the misery and gives my ego another reason to beat myself up.

As for lack of exercise - although I go the gym 3 times a week and regularly visit Lundy, I still do very little exercise compared to when I first met my partner. Before you ask, this is nothing to do with our dwindling love life, but more to do with the fact that I have learnt to drive and no longer have to spend half my life walking to and from busses and trains, not to mention running for them. I used to walk at least 2 miles just going to and from work, these days I am lucky to walk more than 200 yards! Three trips a year to Lundy is not going to cut it either, even if I do walk for 6 miles a day; I need to be exercising like this on a daily basis for the flab and the weight to shift.

If my observations are correct, then I have put on 4 dress sizes in the last 10 years, which when I think about it, is not good. Having said this, according to statistics, I am still smaller than the average woman, who is now a size 14 (the old size 16).

Is it though fair for manufacturers to change their sizes in this way, fooling women into thinking that they are smaller than they really are? I don't think it is. Does it encourage women to eat more healthily and to exercise - no, it fosters the belief that you are okay as you are and do not need to change when anyone with guts enough to say so can see that this is not the case.

In my case, seeing the difference between those 2 pairs of jeans did me a great favour, for it has made me realise that I can no longer fool myself into believing that I am okay as I am and don't need to change.

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with being a size 14, as long as you are in proportion, but for me, being this size at five feet and half an inch is not in proportion. While it is true that womens bodies are changing, with bigger busts, fuller hips and so on, this is for the most part borne from changes in our dietary and exercise habits, and not necessarily a natural occurence. Women who have had children naturally change shape, which is only to be expected, and as we age, things begin to droop and head south, but this does not mean that it is okay to fool the brain into thinking that we are smaller than what our eyes are telling us. We should be happy with the shape that we are, and with what God has given us, but this does not mean that it is okay to let ourselves go.

The most important thing is to be healthy and able to exert ourselves without getting out of breath. If you can pinch more than an inch (and I can pinch several), then this is not healthy.

Women are women and not children, we don't need to be lied to, but told the truth of who and what we are so that we can make an informed choice whether to change or not and see the reality of the choices that we make and how they affect our health. We are big girls after all, in more ways than one.

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