Beauty of Being a Woman: Blogfest 2012

Blogger August McLoughlin is inspiring women to celebrate their beauty this week. That’s a tricky one for me.

One thing I never had to worry about growing up was my weight. Crooked teeth, big lips, dodgy hairdos and being overly loud and opinionated yes, but never my weight.

Until I went to college I was a perfect size 8 (that’s size 2 in American). It was quite comforting really, not to have to worry about something that bothered so may of my peers. To slip into my jeans after Christmas and have them slide on as perfectly as they did before. And yes, I was one of those bitches who ate whatever I wanted and never exercised. Emphasis on the “was” in the previous sentence.

Don't you just hate me? I know I'm well jealous of 18 year old me!

Then I went to college, discovered pizza, chinese food, beer, vodka and daytime television. A good time was had by all, well by me anyway, at the expense of my waistline.

Presumably, my mother noticed after some time that I was carrying a bit of a food baby, but unfortunately she thought it was a real baby [I had also found my first serious boyfriend]. Over the next few years as I consistently put on weight, my mother asked me if I was pregnant so many times that it became a running joke with my friends.

But there really are only so many times you can say, through gritted teeth “No, Mam, I’m just getting fat” before it starts to grate.

Since then, my weight has been up and down – more up than down if truth be told! I’ve found out what it feels like to be called fat.

It is the one aspect of my looks that I get hung up on. And it has to stop. Not only because I have undeniably allowed my own confidence to be eroded by this one aspect of my looks, but because I realise I have a responsibility to other girls.

This was brought home to me during my second year as a teacher, when my six year old student Fatima burst into tears one day because she considers herself fat.

One of the most beautiful kids I have had the pleasure of teaching, inside and out.

Something is wrong in a world where a beautiful, clever little girl like this is even thinking about her body image like this.

And outside of her own family, I was probably Fatima’s primary female role model while I was her teacher. You walk a difficult line when you’re trying to instil confidence and self-belief in little girls in the Middle East, but I always did my best to make sure they knew how strong and intelligent and beautiful they were.

It broke my heart that she saw herself as fat. I did my best to show her how beautiful she was.

But though of course I never discussed my insecurities with my grade one class, I wasn’t setting Fatima or any of my other little girls a great example, was I?

And anyway

I’m not that fat.

I’m only a little bit fat.

Me with another student, Norhan, in December

I’m not fat.

I don’t really believe that.

I’m trying to.

I owe it to myself. I owe it to Fatima, and Norhan, and all the other little girls I have had the privilege of teaching. And I’m regularly told I look better now than I did in those size 8 days.

Happy Beauty of a Woman Blogfest ladies – you are beautiful!

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” —Maya Angelou

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Comment (13)

  • Beauty of a Woman BlogFest « August McLaughlin's Blog| February 10, 2012

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  • Stephanie D| February 10, 2012

    Wonderful post. I never had to worry about what I ate until my late 20’s. I’m 43 and could lose 10-15lbs to be healthier (darn those Cadbury Eggs!)….but it took me a long time to realize that I’m still just as beautiful as when I was 2 sizes smaller. This is a lovely reminder that we need to model that acceptance to children.

    • Katie| February 10, 2012

      Thanks. It’s easier said than done, but I have written articles on childhood eating disorders and a lot of it really does come down to mothers, teachers, female role models in real life, rather than what they see on tv.

      I hope I can live my words!

  • Cynthia Cheng Mintz| February 10, 2012

    Heh….as soon as I graduated from university and therefore dropped my two cookies a day (and a glass of juice) habit, I lost 5+ lb. That’s A LOT considering my height (5’2″ish) and frame (really small). As for the weight thing, remember, different cultures have differing views of what’s “fat” as well. If I went to Hong Kong, I’d be considered “slim, but normal” while in Canada, I’m very slim, almost sized out. In Texas, I’m probably skinny to the point that they’d feed me hamburgers every day until I weigh 120 lb (which would actually not be that healthy for me unless it was mostly muscle).

    • Katie| February 10, 2012

      That’s so true. I constantly felt fat in the Middle East surrounded my tiny glamorous women, I feel a bit more normal now that I’m in the UK. And I suppose if I hung out at the Biggest Loser camp for a while I would feel skinny!

  • prudencemacleod| February 10, 2012

    Ok, let’s make this completely clear, there are millions of women who carry extra bodyfat and they are beautiful. Fat does not mean ugly. You are beautiful, never forget that. 🙂

  • J Holmes| February 10, 2012

    Nice article. Keep loving those little ones and don’t let the education system keep you from teaching them.

    My wife used to have to try to keep putting food in my mouth. I was a challenge. I was burning insane amounts of calories every day. I would come home from after a month or so in some distant country and she would give that concerned look and start feeding me. Once I aged a couple more decades and my routine changed she was able to back off and let me eat what i wanted without me losing weight.

    As to “looks” I’m a guy. I look around and woman are always nicer to see than men. It doesn’t bother me that as a guy I have no aesthetic value. What’s the difference? I only have to look at myself long enough to shave and then to comb my hair. So women got cheated big time sorry. You get to look at us. That has to be pretty boring. We get to look at women. Pretty nice for us.

    Don’t bother trying to have the right size breasts, the right height, hair color etc. There is no such thing. One guy’s idea of the perfect woman is not the next guys idea of a perfect woman. And my idea of the perfect woman? She’s sweet to me. She makes eye contact with me. She smiles at me a lot. I trust her always. I asked her last night if she loves me and she came over and kissed me so I’m still getting away with just being me.

    If you are making changes for yourself well OK I guess but you probably don’t need to. All women look better than any guy so most guys are happier to see any woman as compared to looking at another guy. At the very very worst on your very worst day you are still in the top %50 on the looks scale Because we’re down here occupying the bottom %50 of the scale.

    • Katie| February 10, 2012

      That’s an interesting way of looking at things, thanks for commenting. Nice point of view. Although I think most women do look at guys aesthetically.

  • Julia Whitmore| February 11, 2012

    My Dad once told me that guys just need to feel accepted the way they are. Women? To feel like they are one in a million. Never tested the theory scientifically, so it might be bunk, but still, could be helpful as you explore the challenges of accepting and loving yourself (and by extension others).

    Wish I had you for a teacher back in the day.

    Best wishes

  • Sharon K Owen| February 12, 2012

    Wonderful post. And what a wonderful role model you are.

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  • Karen McFarland| February 13, 2012

    What a privilege to be in the position to help young girls see themselves as to their full potential! You’ve been given a gift. And you were the right person to receive it! Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

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