Tuesday, 20 March 2012

And Another Thing...

I took a gap year before I came to uni, so I am by now quite used to being older than most of the people I am friends with. Indeed, this year I am the oldest one in my student house because no-one else has taken one. But I have started to notice a trend amongst my younger friends that has recently started to get on my nerves: People who are turning 20 complaining about how OLD they are going to be. Twenty is NOT old, nowhere near. Statistically speaking you have at least another 50 years ahead of you, which means that you are not even a third of the way through your life at 20. You also have more than double the years you have lived still to live, so I just don't understand how people can complain at being old.
A common explanation I hear for this is that you feel old because you are leaving your teenage years behind, and that this is a horrible thing, but I just can't understand the logic behind this. Most of the years I spent as a teenager were pretty rubbish-I would much rather be twenty than have to deal with mood swings and spots and angst and heartbreak because that boy you have fancied for years has got a girlfriend and school uniforms and getting bullied and gossip and bitch fights with your friends and making up with your friends again and arguing about which boy from that band that you all love is hottest and PE and emotional rollercoasters and blazing rows with your parents and not being old enough to do anything or being old enough and having no-one to do anything with or being the last one to be old enough and missing out on all the fun stuff and the low self esteem and all the 'firsts' all over again and all the rest of the crap! Ugh, it just doesn't bear thinking about.
Being 20/21 is awesome! You've literally got your life ahead of you to fill with exciting and unknown things. You're stood on the edge looking at the drop knowing that it's going to be terrifying and brilliant all at the same time. Don't waste time complaining about being old-go out and live in every second. If you don't want to feel so ancient than act like a child again-jump in all the puddles and climb tress, run around in circles until you're so dizzy you fall over, blow bubbles. Life will pass you by if you let it, by sitting around moping about being 'old', but just go out and seize the day and see how wonderful it can be!
Personally, I think the thing that people are scared of isn't turning 20 but turning into a proper adult-and I must admit that I can count myself in this category. There's something about being a student that takes you out of the real world, into one where it is perfectly acceptable to take a nap in the middle of the day, where you have no real responsibilities and mooching around in your pyjamas for a day is a completely normal activity, and the thought of having to actually grow up a bit and take charge of your life is a tiny bit of a knee-trembler. Everyone's future is unknown at this moment, that's what makes it so scary to be looking at it. However, I have friends that I went to school with that have got married, have had babies or have babies on the way. To me, these are much more 'adult' things than having to stop being a student and get a job and be a semi-responsible person for the first time. So I reckon if my friends can do these massive life changing things then I must be able to cope with the smaller, albeit still life changing ones.
So isn't it about time we all stopped being scared about getting slightly older and standing on the edge, take a big breath, close our eyes and jump? OK, so maybe this isn't the best analogy for me, knowing that I will never bungee jump in my life (I am far too fond of having my spine in one piece, thanks),  but what I am saying is that we should all just go out there and do awesome things. Don't let a fear of growing old stop you. After all,

Life isn't a rehearsal. Live it.

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Problem I Have With FAT

Fat. Say it to yourself. What sort of images come into your mind? I could bet that some of them are fairly unpleasant.
See, I have a problem with the word 'FAT'-it's far too overused in our society. The worst thing that a woman can be is fat. We live in the fattest nation in Europe (The UK). We're the fattest now than we have ever been. People are terrified of looking fat, of getting fat, of wearing clothes that make them appear fat. Not only is the word grossly* overused, it is also misused far too often.
Now while I understand that lots of people being massively overweight is a problem both for the individuals and on society (health care, resources etc etc), I don't like the way the word fat is used to mean ugly and unhappy-it only ever comes with a negative tag. On all the 'amazing weight loss pill/diet/regime' adverts, you never see the 'Before' woman smiling do you?
Jodie Prenger showing us how miserable it is being fat...
(Plus what a difference that new dress, heels, new hairdo and make up do for you...)
Very rarely are fat people allowed to be portrayed happy with their lot in life-the message is that if you're fat, you should be ashamed and unhappy because it's what you deserve. I mean look how much 'celebs' get slated if they put on a couple of pounds and then go for a walk on the beach.
All I want to say is that fat is not synonymous for ugly. Being fat doesn't automatically make you unhappy or unhealthy. Being fat is definitely not the worst thing you could be. I would much rather be fat and a nice person than thin and horrible. I would rather be fat and comfortable and confident in my own skin than thin and insecure. Fat can be beautiful, fat can be SEXY (shock horror) and just because you are thin doesn't necessarily mean you are more attractive than a bigger person. 
As I have said before, beauty (in my opinion) comes from self confidence and happiness, not necessarily just what you look like. I am fat, but I have a lot more body confidence than a lot of people I know-people who are much thinner than me. I will happily say that I have the capacity to be beautiful** but I know a lot of people who are a smaller dress size than me and couldn't say the same. 
In this beauty crazed world, it really irks me that being thin is the ultimate pursuit, because to be thin is apparently to be beautiful. Why can't it be happiness that makes you beautiful rather than the size of your jeans? People are obsessed with doing anything to not be fat-look how many fad diets and diet pills are out there, and how much money people are making out of this fat-phobia. I really think it's about time the viewpoint changed. People should stop using fat as negative word, and stop making 'fat' the worst thing someone in society can be.
We can't escape it ladies-the average female body is 27% fat (compared to 6% for blokes) and without it we wouldn't have boobs and hips and bums and all the wonderful things that make us sexy women. If you're unhappy with the way you look, try to change your mind before you try to change your body. Learn to love your femininity and all the lumps and bumps and wobbly bits that come with it-your FAT. Wear what makes you feel good and look good, and then what does it matter if you have love handles or a stomach that isn't completely flat or cellulite? They're all the things that add up to make you beautiful.
Being fat is not a bad thing, so just enjoy yourself!

Let's make fat beautiful again!


*Yes, it was deliberate
**Although not on the days when I have to actually drag myself out of bed, I will admit. Especially when I spend them lurching around like the undead until I get some caffeine. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

On The Subject Of Children

The other day I was chased around a field for a while by a friend of mine who wanted me to hold her daughter, who was finding it thoroughly hilarious because I didn't want to. I'm not, as I explained to her later, scared of children, I just don't like them, and I'm fairly sure the feeling is mutual! Parents: don't take this personally. It's not just your child, it's ALL of them.
When you tell someone that you don't like children and don't plan on having any, there are a few reactions that I have come to expect. One is quiet judgement, that somehow there is something wrong with me or that I am a bad person for my views. Another is disbelief-people just can't understand why I wouldn't like children because apparently everyone just does. The third is that 'it's just a phase' that I am expected to grow out of when my hormones kick in and I just become all broody like everyone else. When I told my mum (aged 20) that I had decided that I wasn't having children, her response was "tell me in five years time and I might believe you" as if it was something that would just change as I got older.
I find it somewhat interesting that the general response is that this is an abnormal trait-like I am betraying my species by not wishing to have a baby. As the brilliant Caitlin Moran says in her wonderful book 'How To Be A Woman', (Watch that video if you doubt the wonderfulness. She's faaaaab. Plus she militantly promotes BIG PANTS. Which is always a good thing) "Men and women alike have convinced themselves of a dragging belief: that somehow women are incomplete without children."* I totally agree-sometimes it seems as if women are only held up as having achieved something if they have squeezed a sprog out, although this attitude is finally taking a turn for the better.
For me, I think my reluctance in part stems from the fact that I don't appear to have that natural maternal instinct that every woman I have ever met seems to possess. I have never felt the apparently innate desire to coo at a baby in a pram, or gone all mushy at a baby grow**. I am, to be quite honest, somewhat baffled by the people that do these things-the noises that a small child can invoke from seemingly normal people are incredibly odd. If you removed the visual information from this scenario, and just heard people making those noises in public, I can't imagine you would choose to sit next to them on the bus. Yet with a baby in this picture everyone, for some unknown reason, just understands. It becomes perfectly OK for even a stranger to start squeaking and jabbering. I just don't get it.
Personally, there is no part of having children that appeals to me in any way. I don't want to be pregnant, I sure as hell don't want to give birth and in no way do I have any desire to become a mum. People say that it's different when it's your own child, but I don't really plan on trying it just in case! I have lived with small children since I was 17, and there has been nothing I have seen in that time that has come close to convincing me that they might not be all that bad.
Children are noisy, smelly, messy, annoying and expel far too many bodily fluids for me to want to go near them for any great length of time. I'm sure that people who want/have children could list as many merits as I could bad points, and say that the good things outweigh the bad. Again, that's a lot of a risk for me to take, just to see if they were right.
One of my main reasons against not having children is because I don't want to have someone that relies on me that much. There's no two ways about it, once you have a child your life is irreversibly changed-for at least 18 years, you will always have another person to consider over yourself for everything. You are entirely responsible for them, to the point where their very existence is dependent on your fulfilling their needs, and your life has to shift around in order to accommodate your children at the very centre of it. You cannot do anything without first considering the impacts it would have upon them, and so in some ways you are very restricted in life. Call me selfish if you will, but I am just not prepared to allow my life-ship to be steered by someone other than myself. I like it exactly as it is. Surely it is more selfish to have a child that you don't really want than to abstain and be happier? Because that child is never going to be as loved as well as it could have been if it stops you doing the things you love/dream about.
50 years ago, what I am saying would have practically been a punishable offence-it was unheard of for a woman not to want children, because women's worth was measured by how well their offspring turned out. Nowadays, the tide is starting to turn and women are beginning to be heralded for their own greatness, rather than their decision to procreate. And I say all credit to them, it's about time we were recognised as more than just walking baby makers.
So I proudly say 'I am not going to have children'. Next time someone says it to you, try to judge them a little less harshly, try a little more to accept that they are not betraying the female species and the point of life itself. Coz us Sisters are doing it for ourselves, and more and more women are ignoring their biology and going out and grabbing life by the balls. At the end of the day, that surely can't be a bad thing?


P.S. All you mothers, and mothers-to-be, and mothers-to-be-at-some-point-in-the-future (+ fathers!), please don't take offence at my words. I have no problem with everyone else having children, I just have no desire to do it myself. Also, as long as you don't want me to look after/hold/interact with your children, or tell you how cute/amazing/wonderful they are then you and I have no quarrel***! Go forth and procreate to your heart's content!

*Chapter 13: Why You Shouldn't Have Children, Page 241, about half way down. Because I feel the need to reference these things.
**NB My mother has always referred to these as grow-bags. I only found out when I was about 17 that this was what you grew tomatoes in, not babies, and she was making a funny. It does explain LOTS of strange looks I had received up to this point in my life.
*** As long as I'm not stuck on some form of public transport with your child if it's having a BAD DAY!