The Guilt!

Went for a walk at lunchtime to boost the ‘tonin levels, get the steps up, and started listening again to the Guilty Feminist on spotify. Love love love this hilarious woman. If you are in to sarky women comics you should totally have a listen. Deborah always starts her routine with ‘I am a feminist but…’ and some of her examples have me lol’ing.

So I tried the same thing. Nowhere near as funny. Hmm…BUT

– I am a feminist, but, I am committed to using the eyelash serum my mother gave me for xmas. This is because my eyelashes are short, and having long eyelashes is generally seen to be desirable and feminine, and I am vain. (Although I should exercise with caution because, coincidentally, the podcast mentioned someone used it on the upper part of the eyelid and lashes started growing out of the eyelid itself! Wrong!)

– I am a feminist but I took my husband’s name when we got married, and not just because my initials became MCG.

– I am a feminist, but, I did look in the reflection of a shop window on Bourke St as I walked back to the office to see how slim or chubby I looked today (so insecure, but I know I am not in the minority.)

– I am a feminist but I found myself blushing in not a negative way when some street workers in NYC called out  “looking good baby doll”

– I am a feminist, but recently, I was down at the beach with my mate Beej and she asked me, hypothetically, that if cosmetic surgery was painless, free, and instant, what I would have done, and I had an immediate answer, which is to have my tits lifted (they’re really long, without a bra they actually touch my knees. Ok?)

– I am a feminist but! I wore heels all day on Thursday. I was conducting classroom training and could barely see over the lectern. Feet were agony by end of day.

– I’m a feminist but, I chuckled when someone made the comment about slut shaming the cold drinks machine and her sultry and digital “thankyou, and goodbyyyye”.

I’m a feminist, but, perhaps jams and pickles are chaining me to the kitchen and reinforcing gender stereotypes?

Advertisements

The Big Short

The other night I was crammed on a homebound train. It was already full by the time we reached Richmond, at which time more commuters squeezed on – with bags and phones and bad breath. I was already standing and began to move down the carriage to make room. Unfortunately, the area I found myself standing in had no chair hand grips available, and the only possible way to steady myself was to reach, awkwardly and not effortlessly, for the straphang. It was a bumpy ride, and I am not overly endowed with balance any more than I am height, which resulted in me losing my equilibrium a couple of times. I seethed until Mitcham when the bloody seats started becoming available. Fuck being short. No, I’m not petite, I’m not delicate. Just short.

b1c98894f0f3924d9de49a326d66f81b

It wasn’t until I was eight I realized I was short. It was when we were lining up for the class photo from tallest to shortest, and it emerged that I was the 3rd shortest girl in glass, which meant a guaranteed position in the front row. I don’t remember being bothered by it especially. That came later, when I was 12, and attempting to defend my goal patch from a towering Samoan goal keep. I just couldn’t get around her, and her long long legs and arms. It was then I was at a distinct disadvantage.

Aged 13, I would have done anything to get taller. I had boobs, and hips, but my blazer and pinafore were so big and long it looked like I was playing dress-ups. If only I were taller, it would stretch some of that embarrassing chubbiness out. All the cool girls were tall. I wanted to be cool and tall. I remained short and nerdy.

Two orthodontist appointments, between which I did not grow, were enough to convince me it was unlikely I would have a sudden growth spurt and that five foot three was all I was going to be allocated. Genetics were to blame: my mother is delicate 5 2 and my father a strapping 6 foot. I drew the short straw, it seemed.

So it seemed I would never be terribly far from the earth’s crust. In my 20s I struggled with boots and heels on a daily basis, but this was coupled with my general clumsiness, resulting in many ankle rolls.

So, just to have a whinge – some not so great things about being a short arse include:

– Not being able to get to the overhead locker on airplanes (I usually jump up and stand on a seat while people are filing out)
– Not being able to reach top cupboard, anywhere (step ladders for the win)
– Not bring able to have decent view in concert (Ridik, as I haven’t been to a mosh pit in at least 15 years)
– Having my tallest friend TPD rest his elbow / drinks on my head (quite funny actually)
– Not being able to turn the dryer on (this is annoying)
– Trousers needing to be taken up (Actually, I haven’t worn trousers in years as I look stupid. Jeans have a short length and that’s what I buy)
– Not being able to straphang on crowded trains without looking like I am doing lop sided star jumps (infuriating).

Some good stuff:
– Legroom on planes – never an issue
– Unlikely men are shorter than me (sexist, yes) (I can snuggle quite easily into LAH’s chest)
– Can fit on most couches and children’s beds quite comfortably (I used to sleep in A&Y’s then 6-year-old son’s bed very comfortably)
– Looking younger – perhaps. Was taken for early 30s down at the hairdresser. #winning.

Maybe I should just carry my 6 in heels for the train?

Look at that Grass! It’s so green!

stop-comparing-comic2Normally the gym makes me feel pretty good. I go at lunchtime (maybe) twice a week and come back brimming with energy, refreshed after a good sweat up followed by a nice hot shower. Last week, I came back to the office annoyed and flat. As I had been running, a stunning woman caught my eye on the treadmill beside me. Resplendent in hot pink lulu lemon, she was at least a decade younger than myself, tanned, lithe and slender. Her glossy ponytail bounced along in her runner’s rhythm. And she was up to 12 kph, and I was huffing and puffing at 10kph. Shuffling along, squat body clad in kmart gear, red face and greasy hair, I felt woefully inadequate.  Bugger. Why can’t I be like her, I thought? Why can’t I be slender and tanned? I normally wouldn’t give a shit, really. I am pleased I am jogging again and I thought I may have turned a corner as to how I look. But…. Grrrr! Why was I feeling so crap? Why the comparison?

I came back to my desk and opened an email from close friend. Said friend has been, unsuccessfully, trying to break into property market for some time, and started reading a book about property investment. ‘I’ve read two pages, and feel like a complete failure because I don’t own a house. Everyone says it’s unhealthy to compare yourself to others, but I do it all the time, and all day long.’

As we all know, comparisons with others, particularly in the hostile environment of the Melbourne property market, or against twenty somethings at the gym, are an extraordinarily negative thing to do. I quickly wrote back to said friend ‘stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone has their own path to tread.’ But of course I am a hypocrite, as I am guilty of it too.

Everyone does it. That person has that handbag, that person has that house, that person had that holiday, that person has that job – why don’t I have those things? we think to ourselves.  In this age of social media it’s more than just keeping up with the neighbours or the ladies at church, because other people’s lives and achievements are constantly in our faces. The world of visible, highly competitive happiness is everywhere, but it’s important to note that very few people present a full and realistic picture of their lives. ‘Everyone on social media manages their avatar,’ my friend P says, ‘AND it’s full of cunts humblebragging all over the place.’

Yes, we are all guilty of it. In this excellent article, psychologist Danielle Tempesta points out that ‘the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel’.

Another friend, J, comments: ‘How bad is social media though? Like if you’re single and lonely your feed will be filled with those soft focus engagement/wedding photos, and if you’ve gained a bit of weight and you’re feeling bad about it, your feed will be full people achieving goals running half marathons or on yoga retreats (no shit – I have a facebook friend at a yoga retreat in Bali this week, photos are of her actually doing a bridge in a bikini.).’

And quite apart from social media, I didn’t know the girl at the gym at all. She was young and lovely, but I didn’t know what her life was like. I could assume she was a healthy individual but that’s about all I knew about her – who was I to think she had a better life than I did. I am a healthy, successful woman in my thirties, about to get married to the love of my life. Why bother comparing myself with someone I didn’t even know?

Furthermore, it’s actually counterproductive to compare yourself unfavourably with others. Tempesta says: ‘Ruminating about how someone else is better looking, has more friends, or is more successful than you is both time-consuming and ineffective. Being hard on ourselves actually zaps motivation and decreases goal completion. If you really want to live a life that feels fulfilling you need to dedicate your time and energy to your own.’

I don’t blame my friends for comparing – it’s hard to avoid. But we need to do a lot less of it. In its most basic sense, if you compare yourself with others, you will always be losing a battle. Put your energy into yourself, because we ALL need to tread our own path.

I was at the gym at lunchtime yesterday and co-incidentally, the pink lulu girl was doing her makeup in the mirror at the same time. Now dressed and refreshed, I was feeling better about myself than I was last week. The girl caught my eye in the mirror and smiled shyly. ‘I love your scarf,’ she said, commenting on the dark blue pashmina I had hung around my neck to perk up my black corporate uniform. ‘Where did you get that?’

‘Oh, a chemist,’ I said flippantly, ‘ages ago’.

‘Oh it’s stunning‘, she said, ‘really suits you.’

‘Thanks’ I said, smiling. Marvelling at how women at the gym can bond over nothing and yet everything.

‘So jealous. I can never wear that colour.’

‘Of course you could!’ I said, not because that’s what women say, but because she could – it was an inoffensive colour.

‘No way, looks totally wrong on me’ she said, piling her hair up on her heard in a top knot. She picked up her bag and smiled again. She was really very sweet, and highly self-conscious. ‘I’ll see you later.’

‘Yeah, see ya.’ I said.

I hope she stops the comparisons. They’re not productive.

How I am learning to like my boobs*

Despite my new mantra of ‘I am what I am’ (and what I am, is a short hourglass figure with a few extra kilos and a full bust) I still really dread heading to the bra shop for a fitting. On the scale of awkward (say, 10 being a pap smear, 1 being fitted for new orthotics) the experience is around about a 7.4. I had been putting it off until last week. Then matters came to a head (almost literally).

I remember my first bra. Mum took me shopping at Ballantynes and the nice lady measured up my 10 year old body told me to pretend I was going topless at the beach. I was mortified – noone else had boobies and the last thing I wanted to be was different. By age 11 I had grown out of that first bra, the boys at intermediate were calling me ‘Titanic tits’. They just kept on a-going. And so did those boys.

Throughout my teenage years they annoyed me. I could never wear nice bras – mine were always the utilitarian sports range. It generally didn’t matter how slender I was either – and at 17, I was a mere slip of a thing – I was always big up top. I once had a teacher comment on my ‘buxomness’. One of the bitches at school commented boys only went out with me cos I had big tits (to this day I regret my retort wasn’t “the only reason boys date you is cos you’re easier than Divine Brown” but that only came to me 20 minutes later.)

As I discovered over the years, if I tried to cover them up I looked stupid;  if I ever revealed them I was showing off.  Forget strapless tops or spaghetti straps, cos they just weren’t gonna happen. Men would talk to them, as well as women (I was asked for a motorboat once in a bar, by a woman. It was sorta cool.) I was terrified of wearing a blouse just in case one of the hardworking buttons gave up the fight in a meeting (yes this happened once) and lived in fear of running for the tram. Tops were (are) generally a bad situation – a loose one makes me look heavier than I am, but a fitted one makes me look like I am drawing attention to them. My boobies can’t win.

Fast forward to my mid-thirties and back in swing (ahem) of a jogging programme. Current sports bra on last legs, only effective with another bra over it, (and was accidentally put in drier, so hooks buckling like train lines in the Melbourne summer) so I headed last week to see the nice ladies at Brava for a boulder holder. The young lady there didn’t bat an eyelash as I exposed boobies at her, measured me up saying, “who cares about the size? No one needs to know that anyway,” (no they don’t). The resulting apparatus is like a parachute holder crossed with lycra medieval body armour, but it succeeds in holding the girls in, something that many many bras have failed to do. It was four times the price of a normal bra, but now I can run without fear of them sliding or bouncing out or giving me pain, so that’s nice. One step closer to body acceptance, I hope.

Jogging update: am finding running outside now preferable to the tready. Sunday got to 7.2 along the Dandenong creek in my super new shoes. Win! Also no boobs slapping me in face – double win.

*or ‘the journey of as big titted woman,’ by Bridgey. PS this is not click bait.