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Is that a kitten up your jumper or are you just fat?

January 30, 2014
I couldn't find a picture of someone with cat up their jumper, but I did find this which pretty much gets the look - but, weird!

I couldn’t find a picture of someone with cat up their jumper, but I did find this which pretty much gets the look – but, weird!

I am having a fat month.  I am not looking for posts in response that squeal ‘you are NOT fat!’ please, because, oddly, that isn’t the point.  I wear my new layer of fat like a winter coat, one with a fairly large kitten concealed beneath it, i.e. mostly up front.  It could be seen to be a comforting sort of fat, which can be stroked as though a pregnant belly (why is it that is acceptable to stroke one’s own tummy only if it contains a baby?), but it isn’t.  I don’t want this layer.  It has grown out of age, marriage, and lack of fitness; the latter of which in turn is due to laziness, ill health and no bloody time, laziness.

Now I have the time, sort of, but not the inclination.  It’s been a hard winter so far.  Not cold and frosty, but grey, rainy, flooded, damp and almost warm.  This is not weather to make you want to stomp about, huffing into your hands and sweep your eyes appreciatively across the horizon as you clamber to the top of the ridge in good, solid walking boots, the slight gnawing in your stomach a satisfactory response to a 10 mile hike in the knowledge that there is a pie at the other end of it and you can eat it.  It is weather to make you stay in, watch another Netflix box set, eat whatever is in the fridge.

Marriage for all it’s benefits, and there are many I could name but that’s for another, cheerier entry, brings about regular meals where one might have skipped a few, or replaced them with a bowl of muesli.  It brings out the feeder in me, the need to make sure he is well fed, especially now my son is no longer around to feed and fatten up.  So we eat well.  Very well.  And the pounds/kilos pile on.  Even the husband has a belly.  He is tall, skinny, bit gangly, with a tiny, little pot belly which protrudes rather shyly beneath his shirt, as though unused to the limelight and a little confused as to what, quite, is going on.

And age, 52 currently, is no friend of the figure.  The menopause (or what EVER the HELL it is that keeps making me SO CROSS) is attempting to rearrange my hormones, my fat cells, my mood (bleak, moi?), my joints.  I creak now.  My back screams ‘no’ as I hoover the sitting room (any excuse) or carry more than a hand bag.  It’s a conspiracy to make me sit still and get fatter.  Ill health contributes to the decline of all animals as they age, no escaping that one whatever species you are.  It’s boring, and we rail inwardly and outwardly against the injustice of it all, fight it and treat it, while also sometimes giving in, because, well, no choice really and it’s quite nice to have an excuse to sit down.

On holiday this year I spent some time with a woman well into her 70’s who used to be a ballet dancer.  She is fit, healthy and lithe still.  We went swimming together.  That is to say, she swam and I flopped about in the shallows, getting puffed just watching her as she disappeared into the horizon line.  She wore a bikini, and if you squinted she looked about 25.  So there are degrees in the inevitability in the decline of health and fitness.  Mind you, my holiday pal’s mind was failing infinitely faster than her body.  It will get you on way or another.

Anyway.  Of course this pondering on the fat issue, never mind health blah blah, brings us to the feminist issue, because they are naturally entwined.  It’s all about societal acceptance of the current form of beauty, isn’t it?  If Rubens was still around we’d all happily pile on the pounds and smile constantly over the top of our chins.  Not so I think.  For a start Rubens’ women were young girls, and as chunky and dimpled as their thighs were, the rest of them had a youthful taughtness.  Undressed I do not look like a Rubens’ painting.  My bosom is large and unwieldy (can one wield a bosom?  hmmm), my tummy, see above.



Back to society’s notions of beauty.  I don’t actually care anymore whether society thinks I’m beautiful, which is one of the small compensations of being in my 50s, and I don’t care if society thinks I’m fat.  At least not in my clear, feminist mind.  But woman have been made to consider how they appear to the opposite, and same, sex for centuries, for ever, whatever, too long – it’s ingrained, it seems to be almost in our DNA.  Men too have had to consider this too,  granted, but, but… it is different for girls.  For the record boys have many of their own, and shared, issues – it is bloody hard being young these days, and I say that without a shred of irony.  Will the next generation feel the same?  I sincerely hope not.  I don’t have a daughter, but lots of nieces, and I would say they are roughly divided 40 – 60 between having a good body image to crap body image so we have a ways to go, as they say.

So, as feminists where are we now with the fat issue?  Same place I reckon.  Still fighting against the unfairness of having our ‘beauty’, and therefore acceptability, assessed in terms of pounds per square inch and yet all of us but the most brilliant and strong are giving into it somehow, judging ourselves, and others too if we are honest, by the same rules.  The head says ‘don’t be ridiculous, look at me, I am intelligent, funny, a contributor to society, parent, wife, doer of good things, superb crocheter’, the heart-mind says ‘I want to look like Elle McPherson because she is my age and put together like a perfect 25 year old’.  This of course forgets that even the most perfectly put together 25 year olds are already suffering from the anxieties of not being perfect enough and never mind the money spent to keep old Elle in tip top nick…  So, am I a true feminist (as Caitlin Moran defines it – if you put your hand down your pants and find a vagina, do you want to be in charge of it – if yes, you are a feminist, then, yes),  yes I am.  Do I despair when looking in the mirror? Yes I do, always have done.  Stale mate.

I digress.  I want to lose weight.  I don’t feel comfortable with this kitten up my jumper.  It does not sit well on my 5’2” frame, my clothes don’t fit and I don’t have enough money to replace my entire wardrobe, and it makes everything so much harder to do.  So, how?  I don’t like exercise, we’ve established that, although I do yoga almost regularly (that can be quite hard when you have manoeuvre said bosom around a lunge I can tell you).  So it’s got to be the diet.  Another septuagenarian (almost) friend is also on this quest.  She has bought a book about this 5/2 days diet thing, and also has a recipe book from the 80’s where calories are counted.  She made me and husband dinner the other night, of chicken with chorizo, tomato and olives, served lovely home grown kale, but no carbs.  It was delicious and apparently only 225 calories per helping.  So we ate some cheese and crackers after that, to go with the bottle of wine.  It’s easy this losing weight lark.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kaaren permalink
    January 30, 2014 3:44 pm

    love your engaging writing Liz. On said topic with 10 years on you K and I recently decided 2 days a week to fast……sounds religious i know but for 2 days we have only a bit of fruit and a bowl of porridge morn and night plus tea etc but no alcohol. feels good partly as you get to appreciate that eating or rather digesting takes energy itself.the body takes a rest, so less of that helps energy levels and then you also dont have to cook for 48 hrs and so you have more time for doing other things. i love not cooking!! and the religios bit is interesting. fasting was always hitched to moral goodness it also makes you feel lighter and brighter…is that morally good. feels likely…..but whatever it is we have not been near a set of scales! xxb

  2. susanna permalink
    January 30, 2014 5:54 pm

    good lord – me too – but not ten years ago; it’s the 2:5 or 5:2 and I do feel good on it and am losing a little weight, though not that bit round the bra strap where it would actually help. Can’t say the religio/spiritual but has much to do with it, but if that floats your boat xxx

  3. Alison permalink
    January 31, 2014 3:10 pm

    I loved this post! You do make me smile Lizzy darling. And moi, who was always thin as a WHIPPET even when regularly consuming 4000 calories a day, now ALSO have said kitten. It is HORRID. I don’t want it there. And TRUST me when I tell you even swimmign 80 lengths six times a week doesn’t shift it. Might try porridge diet though…

  4. February 5, 2014 10:56 am

    Kitten? I have a fully grown cat that actually sits on my lap when I sit down… been pretty much stuck at this weight since getting off chemo 4 1/2 years ago. I blame stuff like it fucking up my metabolism (and now my thyroid is acting up), and probably being way beyond menopause by now. NOTHING at all to do with the daily wine intake…

    But I kinda hate the whole notion of the 5:2 diet, if only because I see people carrying on about it all over the internet with a religious-type fervour, posting their skinny recipes daily on Instagram, yakking incessantly about it on FB and blogs. Apparently there is no medical evidence to back up that it actually works, yet it has acheived cult status with already skinny women boasting about having been on it for over a year now. Sounds like yet another eating order in disguise to me.

    Having said that, I think Kaaren and Susanna have a point that eating light (and eschewing alcohol) a day or two a week gives your body a break and of course that would make you feel better. Might even include weight loss, but I think there is more to weight loss than the obvious. Obsessive calorie counting, even twice a week, doesn’t seem healthy or happy to me.

    Great post! xx

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