It was just as well I warned the sales assistant to ignore any screams emanating from behind the curtains of my changing cubicle, because I let out some beauties. A woman who simply could not be me – despite looking eerily similar – was naked in the midst of 180-degree mirrors so cruel they could sprout hissing serpents at any moment.
This woman was not thin. In fact, cruel types may judge her as having “let herself go”. Well, not in a scare-small-children-and-send-dogs-howling way, or a they-will-have-to-remove-a-wall-when-she-dies obese extreme. Nope, she was more jelly-belly, wobbly-arm and puckered-thigh big – something rarely seen on “influencer” feeds but reality for many of a certain age.
So what if we’re not all reed-thin? Gulp beats Goop any day.Credit:Shutterstock
Yes, that woman was me. Yes, I would like to have looked better, but I was hardly shocked by what I saw. If I hadn’t put on weight since the last time I subjected myself to the indignity of such scrutiny, my friends could have made a buck out of turning me into a tourist attraction akin to a weeping Mary, a place where lazy sods like me could “believe” in the miracle of a life lived lush without any of the side effects. My shape was what I expected, more schooner than hourglass; had it not been, I would have been really shocked.
Here’s the thing: I eat lots and love every bite. I also drink – too much, probably – but damn, I never fail to find in a good red the cure to all life’s ills. Oh, and I rarely work out. Okay, I never do! There is dog-walking done daily, but often washed back with a cold brew at my local on the return from the park, a ritual I enjoy. Slogging it out in the gym with the lycra set doesn’t compare.
I decided years ago to live the life I want, not the one that’s expected. As a result, I must cop the consequences with regards to my shape. Oh, and it helps to not really give a shit.
I have a girlfriend of a similar age who recently told me that her goal was J.Lo or nothing. I have read that the superstar doesn’t drink, follows a no-carbs, no-sugar diet and works out several hours a day to keep her figure. This is commendable, I’m sure – just not to me. I’m just not that motivated, or vain. I’d rather drink a six-pack than flaunt one.
This isn’t to say I don’t look after myself. I do. I am still in a safe BMI range (okay, I’m nudging the line) and comfortably fit a size 14, the Australian average. I eat my daily veg and fruit requirements, and drink water, but also enjoy things I’m told I shouldn’t, the dirty three being wine, cheese and bread.
These are not “bad foods” to me but bliss, a celebration of life and its bounties. If, by partaking in their delicious delights, I steer more towards Rubenesque than reed-thin then so be it. My philosophy is that gulp beats Goop any day. This is not to say that you should allow yourself to become unhealthy, just that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you are no longer the size you once were.
My girlfriends who have had kids tend to hate their figures, something I find quite obscene. Those bodies produced a life – they are incredible! Let’s stay focused on the positive here, people. Our appearance isn’t a contest, nor is it our sum total. There is a hell of a lot more to life than conforming to a cosmetic ideal.
I look at life like this: we could all be run over at any time. If I am, I certainly don’t want to be leaving the gym all red and sweaty when the bus hits, with only a slimy green smoothie to look forward to. Nope, I want red wine on my lips, crumbs on my chest and cheese between my teeth. And hey, who knows, those extra few kilos I’m carrying might be the bounce that saves me when bumper meets belly. Bon appetit!
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale August 4.
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