…Except the ones that aren’t a size 10 or below. They should weep.
It’s a new year and a new niece! Today’s conversation feature a super hyper, e-number addicted, 8 year old. She, and her younger sister were staying over with me and getting changed for bed/watching a movie with the best aunt of all time, my younger niece was very excited because she got to wear the new onsie she got for Christmas (Public Announcement: Onsies are fine if you are under 16. Adults who wear them cannot be my friends. Nick Clegg was never going to be my friend, but this includes him too). I asked why my 8 year old niece why she wasn’t wearing her’s and the reply was “It makes me look fat”.
Stop the bus at pleasant and nice and let’s take a detour down feminist avenue. a-thank you.
An 8 year old girl just said the words “It makes me look fat”. I stopped and looked a little stunned. I sat her down and asked why she thought she looked fat. She said it was because her belly stuck out. I then asked why that was a bad thing and she said “that’s not what people say you should look like, you’re meant to have a flat belly”. I then talked to her about how lots of people look different and that’s a good thing. I then explained that what we see around us isn’t always the right thing, sometimes what we see the most, is a message we shouldn’t be getting at all. She smiled, shrugged and went to put on a Shrek. All is well, apparently.
But it’s not. That’s a message she got at 8 years old and it’s a message she will get every year, every day, every advertisement throughout her life. Until she’s 40, where it’s less about her belly fat and more about her wrinkly face.
Appearance is something I have, and still do, struggle with. I don’t look like the size zero front page of Glamor Magazine or any flawless women on screen, I’ve never considered myself beautiful and probably never will – that’s ok, I’ve been told my personality is awesome. I spent my early teens being awkward and turned this awkwardness into a sarcastic comedy in a hope that the rest will not be noticed (tiny violin for me). As I got older, and where I am now, I’ve learnt to work what my mamma gave me and get over it (most days). I realised that everything I saw was Photoshoped or plastic and, most importantly, I understood that society and a multi-billion dollar industry just wanted me to feel bad. And that just wasn’t going to happen. However, I just happened to talk to the right people and read the right things that allowed me to take back control of the self esteem attached to my physical appearance, and even then, it’s not easy. I often slip into thinking negatively about my appearance and trying out the latest fad. (Give me a break, even Mary Poppins was only PRACTICALLY perfect in every way). There’s no formula, no sure way for me to assume my niece, or any young girl, will have that same experience. In fact, most of them grow up with a negative attitude towards their own bodies.
But, some days even the knowledge of patriarchy’s shitty behaviour, doesn’t stop you feeling rubbish. The days I speak of usually happen in January where every magazine is full off “New Year, New Body” crap and every advert is for weight loss.
They told us to eat Lindt chocolate till we exploded in December, and now they are spamming us with Acai berry miracle fat loss. Marketing backstabbers.
I counted, and in January, so far, I have received 62 emails about radical/miracle/as seen on TV weight loss products. But you can’t get away if you try…even if you have some kind of tiny person inside your computer with a fishing net acting as a virtual spam blocker.
Here are the covers of January’s magazines
You want a detox for the New Year? Detox your mind of sexism, sexist behaviour and sexist messages. How? 3 healthy and balanced meals of chewing up patriarchy and spitting it back out (with a side of cake).