Mother’s Day: “Does this cake make me look fat?”
Right now I work in retail. We sell clothes, mostly to women. I like this job most of the time. But lately working there has made me feel bad. For the last couple of days women of many different ages and sizes have asked me one single question over and over: “Do I look fat in this?” Every time I get this question I feel horribly helpless. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to judge people by the way they look. I refuse to judge people by their body parts. I refuse to judge and evaluate asses or boobs. (I wouldn’t find anything wrong with them anyway.) Every time I hear this question I want to tell those women: “Please, don’t do this to yourself.” I wanna tell them that they look fantastic. That they look exactly right. And that they need to stop worrying about their asses and what other people think about their body parts. Of course I don’t do that because I would be a condescending idiot. I know it is not that easy. But it breaks my heart and it makes me angry that so many women criticise their own bodies, feel uncomfortable in their own skin and dread buying clothes because they might look “fat” in them. And of course it also breaks my heart that being “fat” is considered to be such a terrible thing.
We all have different body types, different metabolisms, different personalities. But instead of accepting and embracing this, we constantly compare ourselves to other women who look thinner, who have longer hair and better skin, who are taller and maybe even smile better than us. We are encircled by a beauty standard that is based on fiction. And we still try to reach that standard. We constantly punish ourselves for not getting there, for being too weak, for not being good enough. We eat too much. We eat sugar. We eat too many carbohydrates, too much fat, too few vegetables or whole foods. We don’t exercise enough.
And you know what? I am so sick of it. I refuse to see my body as my enemy just because I am a woman. I don’t want to be constantly judged by my appearance any longer. I don’t want to beat myself up over these things. I don’t want to feel that I should be on a diet all the time. I want to eat what I want, whenever I want and as much as I want. I have a right not to worry about my appearance. And I definitely don’t want deny myself a certain piece of clothing because I need to lose “those last stubborn five kilos”.
My co-workers like my food. I sometimes bring cakes or muffins into work. Some of them joke that I only bring them treats, so I don’t have to eat them. They say I am dumping the calories on them. They joke, but still. I have heard the words “weak” and “guilt” in connection with food a lot. But food, even cake, is not the devil. And no one is “weak” or “guilty” because they eat a piece of cake. (I grew up catholic. And I heard the word “guilt” there way too often. But believe me, it never had anything to do with food.)
Today is Mother’s Day and children are supposed to bring their mothers breakfast, give them flowers, take them out for dinner and appreciate their work. But I think I should thank my daughter as well. She is the reason that I feel good in my own skin now. She is the reason that I let nobody tell me anymore, how I am supposed to look. She is the reason why I don’t want to answer the question “Do I look fat in this” anymore. She is the reason why I eat my cake and don’t feel bad about it. (And she gets some, too.)
I freely admit that giving birth has never been something I was looking forward to. And I was very relieved when it was over. But even though it was really painful, it has also been very empowering for me. After my body just did all these remarkable things all by itself, in a perfect order and without causing any complications, it became very clear to me that I should appreciate it and that it is perfect exactly the way it is. This was a really amazing and liberating experience. So I want to thank my daughter for that. I hope we can teach her to be proud of her body no matter what. I hope she’ll never go through all that shit most women go through these days. And I hope she’ll fight back whenever someone else is trying to make her feel insecure about her appearance.