is for Zaftig. Do you know what zaftig means? I didn’t till I was frantically scouring the internet for words beginning with Z. It actually means, “having a full, rounded figure”. I can relate to that, so out of all the words beginning with Z, that was the one that caught my attention.
Having a full, rounded figure isn’t easy. Well, actually, getting a full, rounded figure is all too easy. It’s one of life’s bitter ironies that you can diet for months, and manage – after being super-virtuous and cutting out all chocolate, cakes, sweets, ice cream, and anything else that makes life worth living – to lose around a stone, only to find, after celebrating this milestone with fish and chips, that you’ve gained eighteen pounds overnight. It’s frighteningly easy to put weight on, but taking it off is a battle that seems endless.
Unfortunately, in today’s society, having or being zaftig (not sure which it is) is frowned upon, unless you’re auditioning for a role in Hairspray. Thin is in. Confusingly, magazines insist that thin isn’t in at all, and that they advocate a healthy weight and want to employ “normal” sized models. Then they publish photographs of female celebrities with a tiny roll of fat round their tummy or a bit of cellulite on their thighs and scream about how these poor women have let themselves go, and inform us that said celebrities are depressed and battling “weight issues”. Good grief.
I’ve battled with my weight ever since I had my first baby. Actually, that’s not strictly true. The battles are few and far between. Mostly I just accept defeat and pretend it doesn’t matter. Occasionally I put down the cake long enough to decide that this thing won’t beat me and manage to lose half a stone or so. Of course, it goes straight back on. Usually, all my efforts earn me is a few bonus pounds. It’s like I’m trying to collect them. Lose seven, gain ten! Yay!
I suppose over the years I must have lost and regained the same amount of weight over and over again. All my weight-loss attempts have got me is an ever-increasing waist measurement. Maybe I should just have accepted my shape all those years ago and not worried about it. I’d probably have lost all the excess fat if I had.
When I wrote about Eliza in There Must Be An Angel, it was important to me that she wasn’t naturally thin. I wanted her to be a chocaholic who battled with her weight, and knew what it felt like to drink diet drinks alongside a family-sized bag of Maltesers. Eliza joins a slimming club because I think many, many women can relate to that. I certainly can. I’ve been to so many I’ve lost count. Lightweights, the slimming club run by Sophie Crook in Kearton Bay, is a mixture of all the clubs I’ve attended over the years. I well remember starving myself all day before class so that the scales would be kinder, then going home to feast because I had a whole week before the next weigh day! Madness, but I certainly wasn’t the only one.
I can think of several women in the public eye who are “bigger” ladies and look fabulous. Having said that, I have no problem with women who are slim or even thin. My problem is with the pressure put on women to look a certain way. It’s hard enough for “normal” women. Can you imagine the pressure on women in the public eye? Celebrities like Dawn French, Adele, Pauline Quirke and Fern Britton are constantly talked about in terms of their weight loss or gain, as if none of their other amazing achievements count for anything. Dawn and Pauline are brilliant actresses. Adele is a fantastic singer. Fern Britton is a great presenter and best-selling novelist. They are also loving mothers, best friends, partners, daughters, all round good women. Yet for the magazines, what matters is their current weight. Every pound lost and gained is documented. When they’re fat the headlines say they’re struggling, out of control and desperate. When they’re thin they say they’re obsessed, unhealthy and depressed. They can’t win. Who says thin is in? Who says big is best? Whose business is it, anyway? Thin or fat or somewhere in between, if you’re happy and healthy and accepting of your body, you’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
This was my last post for the A to Z Challenge 2015. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, and thank you very much for dropping by and for the comments you’ve made. I really appreciate it.