Yesterday I was doing some editing at my computer. Every couple of minutes I would look down at my stomach and grimace and the following thoughts would echo through my head.
God, I hate my stomach.
Eurghh, it’s so fat.
Why am I so bloated?
Why can’t I have a flat stomach? Why does it have to stick out?
Now to get this into some kind of context I have never had an eating disorder and I am a size 10 (which used to be considered slim until women started aspiring to look like lollipops). In other words, I have absolutely no reason to be hung up on my weight, but still I continued to torture myself, squeezing my roll of stomach flab in my hands like I was kneading dough, wondering if I should stop eating bread and start drinking that miracle water that allegedly burns calories as you sip it.
In the end I decided to go to the corner shop and get a copy of a women’s magazine that my friend Victoria Connelly has just had her book, Molly’s Millions reviewed in. Maybe if I walked briskly it would help to burn off a bit of stomach? Maybe the magazine would help take my mind off it?
I got the magazine, sat back down at my desk and looked at the cover. Two headlines jumped straight out at me.
“DRASTIC DIETERS” – above a picture of a skeletal looking Cheryl Cole
“PARANOID KERRY: I think Mark will stray – my fat repulses him” – beside a picture of a distraught looking Kerry Katona.
I then flicked my way through the magazine, trying to find the reviews section, and was bombarded with image after image of women with sunken cheeks and jutting hipbones and ribcages and stomachs that weren’t just flat but caved in like question marks. The headlines inside were no better either: ‘Cheryl sheds 10 lbs in three weeks!’, ‘AMELLE: I’ve conquered my size 0 demons’, ‘My body repulses Mark’, ‘I’ve spent £135k copying my idol’s look’, ‘Holiday tum panic – Carly Zucker was devastated when she gained 5 lbs on a girlie holiday’, ‘It’s my dream to be called gaunt’, ‘DIET INSIDER’, ‘Tone up in four weeks’, ‘I don’t like my ears’, etc, etc.
Interestingly, the one main article featuring a man carried the headline, ‘I stuff my face with food and booze.’
So the question is, why do us women do it to ourselves? Why, when life has more than enough crap to throw at us, do we insist on turning on ourselves.
Women have ‘fat’ days and ‘bad hair’ days. One of the best-selling books for women on how to attract the opposite sex is called ‘The Rules’. The equivalent for men is the much more fun sounding, ’The Game’.
Can you imagine a male celebrity saying, ‘I think my partner will stray – my beer belly repulses her’? Or the headline, ‘Holiday tum panic – Wayne Rooney is devastated that he ate one too many pies on a recent break to Ibiza’ ?
Can you imagine a group of lads down the pub swapping diet tips or discussing ‘wheat intolerances’? It just wouldn’t happen, would it, because men would be too busy having a good time, or playing The Game, rather than beating themselves up over The Rules.
At the risk of sounding all California psycho-babble, isn’t it time we spent our energy on loving life rather than hating ourselves?
I’m off now for some serious cake action!