There was a point in my childhood where I would have been more excited, so excited that I memorably bounced up and down on a sofa… and broke the sofa. This was followed by a stern telling off before I desperately became worried on this Christmas eve, aged 6 years old, that I was too fat. Why else would the sofa have broken? Shortly after finding myself under heavy worry about my body, one afternoon I sat on the back seat of a taxi staring down at my little legs in stripy leggings, wondering why my thighs squished out wider when i sat down. I didn’t like them.
As my teenage years began, my nanny would always tell me that I didn’t need second helpings at the Christmas dinner table because I had put on weight. The horror that a 13 year old girl might get bigger each year. Hot tears would burn the back of my eyes, glazing with a pained fake smile before running up the stairs to listen to some Linkin Park on my iPod.
Though my pubescent years, she would remark at the weight I had gained every Christmas, disapproving at my growing proportions. Fearful maybe, of my impending womanhood and the awkward, unmentionable worries of having a young teenage girl in the family. My growing bust and widening hips were unsavoury in a family environment, so much so that short skirts or low spaghetti strapped tops from Tammy Girl, I had innocently bought with monies earned from my weekend job at the barber shop, would immediately go missing the moment I placed them into the wash basket, never to be seen again. (I see what you were doing there Mom.)
Boys on the other hand simply cannot be encouraged to eat enough. My little brother, was always “a growing boy”. Feed him up, give the boy some more, he is growing! To be “a growing girl” was looked upon uncomfortably at the best of times. I wonder if any other women out there had the same experience “growing” up. On the occasions in my teenage years where I looked longer-limbed, these were received with so many delightful compliments, you would think I had got an outstanding school report, but no, I was just “lovely and slim”.
And today the battle drags on.
I have never been overweight, I am wearing size 10 jeans while writing this on my laptop right now. But every year in December, even today, I say “I’m going to lose a stone” or “I’m going to be a size 6″ or some other fantastical goal that seeks to kill the anxiety eating away at me all the time, that I am fat. It’s the very same feeling I felt aged 6. Now, my comic book figure is comprised most noticeably by 30FF breasts and curvy hips, providing me with a source of anxiety that I will always look fat and awkwardly sexual to a disapproving room full of people, who like my nan, would breathe easier if I was a bit less shapely.
The sensible region of my brain, the one that forces me to cook and tells me I am silly for feeling horrid, is shut down in December. Sensible officially goes on strike, so I am gearing up for the onslaught of roast potatoes and chocolates, desperately pining for the new year, where I don’t have to be offered another Quality Street. The sniffles and viruses have rendered my inner gym bunny immobile this month, paired with madness at work – silly season as they call it. Before I know it, a fire of histamine that erupts under my skin every time I recall that mince pie I ate at my desk. It literally brings me out in a rash. (Those who know, will understand what I mean by that). The fact of the matter is how all of this has made me very happy, elated even when I am slim, and beside myself when the lower part of my tummy pokes out, announcing to the world that I have not gone to the gym in December and keep eating mince pies.
So one day, I hope to overcome the carbicide-fuelled emotional ramblings about how Christmas makes me feel disgusting and fat and sad.
Here’s to becoming happier in my skin and failing that, a size 6 by January 31st.