I am currently re-reading Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters which is an American book about us 20-somethings hating our bodies and thinking that we have to be perfect and that includes our bodies. There are sad descriptions of woman after woman feeling bad for eating a cookie, spending 3 hours on a treadmill to counteract a bite of chocolate and throwing up after eating a pizza. It breaks my heart into tiny pieces and I can't fathom what it is but it also touches the "perfect girl" in me to eat less. It's bizzare.
Yesterday when I was searching through Getty Images for that picture of the note book, I'd put in the search term "too much" and I got a whole array of pictures coming back. There were some pretty disturbing ones of a stick thin model, with her ribs showing trying to saw off some "fat" from her thighs, others with her pinching some skin for the skin-fold callipers and then on the next page, at least 3 or 4 of her pictured throwing up over a toilet. There were pictures of her sitting on a toilet eating a big chocolate cake and others in the series with the empty plate and her puking. I don't know how to feel about these pictures, I think they are a disgrace and that to a certain extent they make a mockery out of a serious illness. Although it is a sign of our times that some people feel brazen enough to set up studio shots and photograph scenes depicting eating disorders, is it necessarily the right thing to do? I mean we all know that people have eating disorders, now more so than ever but is there any need to glamourise it to a certain extent. I do not need to be shown a picture of some made up model in a bikini(!) puking over a toilet to be aware of Bulimia. In fact, I wouldn't say that the girls who are Bulimic are going to be wearing their bikinis to throw up. What's up with that?
Then I was on my way to training last night, thinking about a new-ish girl who is really flippin gorgeous and is doing really well with her martial arts, she seems to be progressing really really well. Anyway I was riding along and thinking to myself that she has a really great figure, nicely curvy and she has these deep brown eyes and black curly hair, a bit like a more polished version of me (at least she makes an effort with her hair)! So we were sparring last night and she said not to hit her in the stomach, which is fine, no worries. She's got a bit of a dodgy knee at the moment, and also I overheard her say something about a bad back to Lee. Basically no concerns. In my ladies class I run her through the Orange Belt techniques and assess her and she passes with flying colours, even with bad back and bad knee. After the class I tell her that she's passed and well done. Then she says to me, "The reason I don't want anyone touching my stomack or my back is because... (here I'm thinking she's going to say pregnant...) I've had liposuction." EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKS!
Really? Because I for one (and I don't say this) can't see any difference at all. Perhaps her belly is a little flatter, but still, she is still her, and still pretty gorgeous. I said, "But you have a lovely figure." and she counteracts this with the fact that she's been wearing black!!! Like that makes any difference other than when you're standing in front of the mirror! In my class I see ladies from all angles and in all posistions, I generally have an idea of people's shape and size. But she protested and said she'd been having trouble with it since the age of 12. The way she protested and the way she dismissed my compliments had echoes of myself in there. I know I have batted away compliments because I have been fat in my head rather than physically. At the moment I am a little chubbier than usual (you know baby weight, well I have house weight) but my head pretty much feels slim. When I look in the mirror at the moment it doesn't reflect what I feel, but I am working on that (just not to the point of starvation or puking or running 5 miles at dawn). I felt a little disapointed that my hope for a "normal girl" in my class turns out to be another perfect girl and a starving daughter. I felt a little bit like when Lindsay Lohan started shrinking because I had seen her in Mean Girls and gone "Phwoar!" over the fact that there was a real woman with real curves playing a teenager in a high school that would most probably be rife with eating disorders. I remember commenting to my hubs that she was gorgeous, and I remember seeing LiLo looking all lollipopped and I just felt like that was one in the eye for the "normal" girls who were just trying to be normal and not a messed-up perfect girl.
Another thought, which however unjustified it may be was, "Gosh if she's had lipo, then does that mean that I should?" I mean she's about the same size as me, same amount of curve, same hair etc.... Fortunately liposuction is something that you couldn't PAY me enough to have. I don't like the idea of diliberately injuring myself for the sake of vanity, when really the work that needs to be done would be in my head. One good thing about this is she says that it has dramatically improved her self-image. I am pleased that it has "worked" for her, but I am sad that she had to take that drastic route when perhaps a few self-help books and a good natter with a best mate would've sorted out the problems in her head. I'm also a little bit sad that I hadn't told her how gorgeous I thought she was before her surgery. Not that it would've changed anything but it might have meant a little bit more to her.