I speak of women’s bodies as someone who has inhabited one for quite a long time.
I remember the shock of suddenly being aware of my body somehow being either right or wrong at about age 12 when my best friend told me how much she weighed and asked me to weigh myself and report back.Up until that point my body just was. It was the container of my mind (I considered my mind to be infinitely more fascinating than my body) But there it was… it was my body that was the important thing! Not just my body but how it looked and how much of it there was!
A rocky couple of years followed as my body grew and people (boys) commented on its various dimensions.
I got fat… I got thin …and then in my early twenties I got pregnant. Suddenly my body was useful…a container for something precious. I nurtured the baby by eating whatever I wanted without a concern. I loved being pregnant. And then the baby came and soon another. I was a mother in the early ‘80s, when there was no such thing as a yummy mummy. A breastfeeding mother wore big tops for easy access and didn’t worry about the size of her jeans. Body peace!
Then I hit the gym. Aerobics was the latest thing and to do it you had to wear a leotard matching Lycra tights and watch yourself in a huge mirror. I was back to comparing myself to the woman next to me and the instructor in front of me.
This focus on the outward continued as I trained to become an aerobics instructor.
Did I feel good in this toned body? Not really…because it is fleeting. There are always good body days (flat tummy) and bad body days (bloated tummy) just because that’s what its like to be a woman with a woman’s body.
By the time I had my third child at 37 I was somewhat wiser but still I would catch myself obsessing over a couple of kilos.
Now at 55 my weight fluctuates but I feel that it’s more important to cultivate a curious mind and sense of humour than a wasp waist.
My advice to young women is to enjoy your body at what ever stage you are at.
A teenage body is beautiful no matter what
A mother’s body is meant to be soft and yielding, don’t feel pressure to be a yummy mummy.
A woman in her 40’s should look like she’s lived in her body, and enjoyed life.
And yoga helps you to get in touch with the you inside (the right kind of yoga, probably not the one where you stand in front of a mirror!)