I’m on holidays! It’s been a long time since I had a proper holiday. I’ve met up with Dad, Janice and the kids on the Gold Coast, and my brother Nick is joining us this afternoon. We’re staying in some very nice serviced apartments. I’ve gone swimming and for walks on the beach and had a piña colada Golden Gaytime…this is starting to sound like a dating profile.
This really isn’t my natural habitat though. Deborah Frances-White often mentions on The Guilty Feminist podcast that she grew up on the Gold Coast and always felt like she just didn’t fit, literally – that her body type just didn’t match the thin, bronzed ideal and there was nowhere for her here. I understand what she means. My body self-image has been pretty good in recent years, but it is definitely confronting when coming to a place where fewer clothes and a much thinner body shape are the norm. Mostly I don’t think of it until I see a full length photo of myself and think “oh. Those clothes don’t look like I thought they did…oh man I’m a lot lumpier than I thought i was…why don’t I stand up straight?” (which is completely ridiculous, because I probably looked fine, was comfortable and was at a theme park for goodness’ sake, not on a catwalk). Or when I walk in the streets around the beach and pass numerous attractive and confident young women in very small bikinis. Or look in a mirror that shows me somehow differently from my mirror at home (how does that work) and I start to critique every bit of my body from the ground up.
It really does challenge all the work I’ve done in recent years of not comparing myself to other people or measuring my self-worth by what my body looks like. But I have to say, putting on my new red swimsuit (well it’s not new but I haven’t actually had a chance to use it until now) and getting in the pool yesterday, I felt good. I felt strong in myself, I felt comfortable, I enjoyed the feeling of being surrounded by cool water, my hair floating mermaid-like around me, my limbs stretched out. This morning I got up and danced around the apartment to Taylor Swift. I’m determined not to let body-image blips get any traction. Tomorrow we go to WhiteWater World and I am going on all the things!