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June 5, 2018 | by  | in Shit Chat | [ssba]

Body-ody-ody and Other Shit Chat

I vividly remember the first time I was really conscious of my body.
I was Year Seven so what, 11 years old or thereabouts? I went to an Independent School for Girls. We did everything in pairs at this school. Very Madeline, in our elastic ties and gym frocks, walking two-by-two down Regent Street in Palmerston North.

For a time there were nine of us, in my group of friends. Which meant that pairing up became survival of the fittest. “Choose a partner” was barely out of the teacher’s mouth before there was a quiet frenzy of girls grabbing one another, desperate not to be the one left on the outs. Depending on the class size, you either got paired with someone you didn’t like, or you did the walk of shame: alone, at the end of the procession, next to the teacher.
There was one couch in the back of our classroom. It fit two side-by-side, but more often than not we squished four or five onto that couch, a giggling mess of limbs. I remember one morning sitting on this one girl’s knee, and her squealing “OW get off me, you’re so fat!!” Her laughter was infectious to the others, and I walked in disgrace with the teacher for the rest of the week.

The first memory I have of being acutely aware of my body, and I hated it.

Fat is such an ugly word. It’s an ugly, loaded word. No matter how you say it, it sounds like it’s being spat at you. Fat. Because it’s not “you have fat”, which makes literal sense. It’s “you are fat”, which is something else entirely. Fat is not a characteristic, Fat becomes your only characteristic — your Most Salient Trait.
I remember one summer wearing shorts and walking past my grandfather. He tutted and chuckled, and said “ahh you’ve sure got the Trotter genes,” as he made a show of not being able to encircle his thigh using both hands.
I remember standing in front of the floor-length mirrors at dance class, fixating on how beautiful (read: slim) the girls next to me looked. I remember the thin elastic belts we wore, which the teacher would pull and snap against us as a reminder to suck our tummies in — I remember the embarrassment that mine wouldn’t sit flat no matter how much I sucked in.
I remember I stopped participating in water activities when we went to Lake Taupō as a family — the thought of exposing stretch marks in a bikini filled me with terror, and a belly-hugging wetsuit wasn’t a much more appealing alternative.

I remember being scared to eat in front of boys at school, for fear of being seen as that fat girl stuffing her face.
I remember my parents, when I stopped playing hockey at school, every now and then making small ostensibly well-meaning comments, “you know you could really benefit from some exercise,” or, “why don’t you take the dog for a walk? Some fresh air would do you good”.
I remember getting back from my OE and going straight to a family reunion of sorts — having gained a cheeky 11kg — and my great-uncle said “you look like you’ve been grazing in green pastures eh!!”

I remember growing up feeling constantly ashamed of my body, and as a direct result, feeling inherently lacking in value.
Getting intimate with someone and not recoiling when they touch my belly; being on top during sex; proudly wearing a crop top that exposes my rolls; eating a full meal in the presence of men. These are small victories for me. Someone spontaneously expressed appreciation for my thighs recently, and I held that offhand comment close for months. I’m slowly learning to let go of the narrative that tells me the numbers on a scale are indicative of my worth as a human being.
Loving my body feels like an act of rebellion. It’s really fucking hard to say, actually, “I am beautiful” — not in spite of my lumpy thighs, but because of them. My stretch marks are fucking gorgeous, and my hips are as glorious as they are wide. My cellulite is a work of art, and my ass deserves to be worshipped. My belly is soft and pudgy and it is fucking exquisite.
I am fucking beautiful.
Love you like I love myself, xoxo


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