Embrace

If I asked you to describe your body, what’s the first thing you’d think of?

I’ve just been to the cinema to watch a documentary called ‘Embrace’ where people were asked that same question, and their responses were… fat; disgusting; not perfect; I need to lose weight. It was a bit shocking. People of all shapes and sizes all responded in the same way.

Then the film maker, Taryn Brumfitt, points out that almost everyone she asked made a negative comment about the way their body looked, but no-one comments on what their body allows them to do. Her statement is “This body of mine, it’s not an ornament, it’s a vehicle.”

It makes you think doesn’t it?

Our bodies are amazing. They are so clever, and they allow us to get to places, have life’s adventures and perhaps even create new life. How come we take all that for granted but criticise if they are not the ‘perfect shape’ to LOOK at?

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Now I’m not a person who spends that much time thinking about what I look like. I’m really not that bothered most of the time. Let me give you an example…

I once met a friend of a friend who does cosmetic treatments. Within an hour of meeting her she had focused in on a frown line above my nose (not prompted by me) and told me, “I could easily remove that for you”. If she could have read my mind she would have heard two things: First my desire to twat her square in the face, and second a very sarcastic tone which said, “I’m about three stone over weight love, do you think a care about a little line on my forehead?”

But I just smiled and said, “Oh it doesn’t really bother me”. Now to be fair, she was a lovely lady and she was talking with a very positive intension – she meets women every day who obsess about they way they look and she has a way to make them feel better and more confident. What’s wrong with that?

But, let me be honest, even though I don’t care about that line on my face enough to want to remove it , tit’s still the first thing I notice every time I see a photo of my face. Let me be REALLY honest, even though I’m not bothered enough to diet, I still delete the pictures where I think I look like a total heffer, and share the ones where someone else is standing in front of me and taking focus away from my size.

It seems it’s part of our wiring to care about how we look and how others judge our appearance. Because they do. We do. I do! And now I’m questioning why. If I know it’s wrong, why do I care? Why do I judge others?

The answer, according to Taryn, is everywhere. We all know about the ‘bad’ magazines, and the photo-shopping and the adverts for diets  and beauty products that don’t work. God-damn money making twats, selling the impossible.

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Yes, of course. But it’s not just ‘them’. She pointed out some of the ways we talk to each-other…

“Oh you’ve lost weight, you look amazing.”

“I daren’t have a cake, I don’t want to get fat.”

“I’ve got to get back to the gym, my thighs are like tree trunks”

Holy fuck. We say this in front of our kids, and then wonder why they start using appearance comments as insults.

The real standout of the film for me was a lady who had been badly injured in a fire and was scarred across her face and body. She received supposedly well-meaning comments that she was lucky to have such a good husband who stayed with her. Which made her question – Is that all I was before? A pretty face?  Was there not more to me than how I looked? She ended with the killer line… “Actually I am pretty awesome.”

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried.

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Thought-provoking, heart-breaking, hope-inspiring. And a whole lot of fun too. I laughed out loud several times, not least when Taryn visited a surgeon who told her what ‘normal breasts’ look like. She has even better self-restraint than me!

Please, PLEASE find a way to see this film.

Watch the Embrace trailer.


Here’s how you can see Embrace

There are screenings across the UK now. But you wont find this film as a normal cinema listing. It’s an independent, crowd-funded film, being promoted via Demand Films, and Taryn herself is in the UK hosting some of the events. (She is a-may-zing. I heart her.)

The idea is that people like me, who feel passionate about sharing this story with more people, will create demand for more screenings, and host our own events. And hopefully that will create demand for more and more screenings. You see?

Find a screening near you

Or host your own event.

There’s no financial outlay. Demand films help you set everything up at your local cinema and help you promote it to your friends and local community. If enough people buy a ticket the show goes ahead. If not enough tickets are sold, it is cancelled and no money is taken from people’s payment cards.

Frankly my dear….

I did a Step class today and I was terrible. Really terrible. Out of time, sweaty, noisy breathing, a mess. But do you know what, I didn’t care. I genuinely didn’t give a toss if people looked at me, laughed at me or felt sorry for me. It made me realise that I have grown a confidence, a tougher skin that allows me to do things I want, whether I’m good at them or not. 

I’ve always said that as a mother, my one wish for my child is confidence. I want him to feel that he can have a go at anything he wants, and not be held back by fear of what others think. So I suppose I need to make sure he has at least one role model for that. 

I’ve wanted to do a Step class again for a long time, but as it’s been 20 years since I last did one (are they now classed as Vintage aerobics classes?), I was a little worried about my ability. This week I finally bit the bullet and booked in. 

Everyone had their place, and I was the new girl so I was placed in the only gap – right at the front of the class, and it felt like my white T-shirt was the brightest thing in the room. Not for long though, that quickly became my face. 

But I had a weird sort of muscle memory that told me ‘you can do this, you’ve got the beat and it’s fun. Do the hard versions, add the jumps… yes girl, pump up the actual jam!!’. 

My confidence was growing. 

However muscle memory soon became muscle screams when my calves remembered that they haven’t been pulled like this for two decades, and you know, what the fuck was I thinking?

My lungs and heart also joined in, telling me in no uncertain terms, “You’re over 40, you’ve done practically nothing since you got your dizzy disease, I think we might die!”

Brain: “Erm yes, hello! Dizzy brain here, wondering if you’re even contemplating those weird jumpy spins the teacher is adding in. Just a thought… if you do that I’m telling knees to give way and your sizable arse will soon be crashing right through that step. Understand?”

My confidence was dropping dramatically. 

Teachers always tell you that you can stick with the ‘easy version’ if you want to, but 30 minutes in and I was struggling with even that. This is the moment I remembered that I can do what I want. I don’t have to keep up with the group, it doesn’t matter if I’m on top of my step with my arms in the air, when everyone else is doing a complicated squat/ twist combo on the floor. I’m here to enjoy myself. And so I did. 

Who cares if I’m at the front? Who cares if everyone is looking in my direction and I’m clearly shit at this? Who cares if my tits and other wobbly bits are having their own disco? The music was great, I was pleased to be taking part and I was filled with memories of being young and fit and loving life. 

When I stopped giving a damn I had such a great time. I smiled, I sang along to Rihanna and I made up my own moves. And afterwards I told the teacher that I loved it and will be back next week, and she looked pleased. I think. 

Not giving a damn is brilliant. Enjoying something you’re not good at is still possible. Perhaps I’ll get better, perhaps I won’t. Perhaps I’ll be known as ‘that woman who can’t really do it but always laughs’. Perhaps I’ll be in agony tomorrow and regret ever going. 

I’m not going to worry about it. Right now I’m still smiling. 

Show us your man-tits

This really, REALLY gets my goat. 

(Man asked to remove his top during a talent show audition)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… If this were a woman who had a great rack, we’d all mentally congratulate her and admire her attributes, possibly even be a bit jealous and remember a time when we had better tits, before age and children made them sag, wither or entirely disappear. 

But if an audience of mainly men was wolf-whistling and shouting for her to take her top off, there would be absolute fucking uproar. The TV programme would get loads of complaints, from furious people saying that we should judge her by her singing talent and not her other ‘assets’. 

So why the fuck do we think it’s acceptable to reverse it and treat men this way? 

If you didn’t see this on Let it Shine, BBC1, I’ll explain. This man, Harry, walked out on stage to an almost instant reaction from the panel and audience about the way he looked. Before he spoke people were whistling and fanning their faces. He was asked to show his torso, and he said he would if the judges gave him a high score for his singing performance. 

Why the fuck should he feel he needs to make such a promise? It’s like a sleazy casting couch, but in public, and celebrated on prime time TV! 

I see so many articles about how we make women feel that their appearance is all that matters and we need to change that perception. Young girls thinking they have no worth if they don’t have a flat tummy, perfect tits and a thigh gap. We all know it’s wrong. We all know that we need to tackle this. 

We have already seen a massive movement away from the Miss World competitions, Benny Hill characters and Carry On films of olden days. People are tackling the magazines, cat walks and beauty industry to use ‘real women’ in campaigns and stop the body shaming. We’re better than that now. We know that we respect women for what they can DO, instead of how they look. 

So again, why the hell do we think it’s acceptable for us to reverse it and treat men this way now. 

I can appreciate when a man looks good. I can appreciate a woman looks good. I might comment on it, the same way I would comment if someone is funny, clever or talented. I would not ever ask or set any expectation them to remove their clothes in public, so I could get a better look. 

Here are the times it is OK to ask a stranger (male or female) to remove their clothes so you can get a better look:

  1. When you are a medical expert who needs to examine them
  2. In a bra fitting service of an underwear shop 
  3. In a strip show where the person has made it perfectly clear that they have consented to show their body during their performance. 

The point is, if we get angry when women are subjected to ‘sexist taunts’, we have to be angry when it happens to men. 

That’s what equality means. Equal. Treated the same. 

The Sick Rules

Yep, this post is about sick. Actual vomit. Don’t read this if you are feeling queasy.

I had forgotten how utterly repulsive that sick smell is. Not just the smell, it’s very existence. Now we’ve been reacquainted by a 7 year old vomiting volcano who has erupted across my house. I’ve realised that it is my parental duty to make sure my offspring learns some clear rules about being sick – behaviours that I had previously just assumed were natural instinct. Apparently they are not.

My little boy is 7 and has hardly ever been poorly. He loves his food and (before this episode) I actually can’t remember the last time he parted with any unwillingly. He must have been very small. Luckily me. Yay. Ah but there is a flip side, because now he’s a much grown child with a stomach capacity for a high-volume vomit. And he hasn’t yet learned the ‘Rules’.

He doesn’t know…

1.  That a person who feels sick should head towards the bathroom / sink / easily wipeable surfaces. Not, most certainly NOT carpeted stairs, near a doorway with fancy woodwork ‘crevices’.

2. That once vomiting has occurred it is possible, if not probable, that you will do it again, so fucking STAY in an easily-cleanable area. Do not move to another room that you think would benefit from a pebble-dash-pasta paint effect on the walls, skirting and floor.

3. That whilst mummy loves you more than the world, there are some times that she would rather not wrap you in her arms and snuggle into your face. Those times include occasions when you are literally dripping from your nose to your toes in your own vomit.(But of course when you stand sobbing in an ever spreading pool of sick, with your arms outstretched, mum will OF COURSE run to you, skidding the final inches and almost taking you down like a bowling ball, so that she can comfort you. She will not intend to have a look of disgust on her face as she holds you and tries not to breathe through her nose.)

And also, there are things that I had forgotten.

1. Kids time sickness to perfection. They wait until Dad is out for the evening and Mum has just settled down in the sofa with a nice hot cup of tea and her favourite TV programme.

2. That it is wise to keep carpet cleaner in the house at all times. For fucks sake. Of all the times to run out.

3. That it’s slippy. Yes I slipped in it, yes I put my hand in it and yes I nearly threw my own guts up straight over the top.

4. That THAT smell won’t go away. Even when you’ve washed your hands 15 times, finally acquired carpet cleaner and wiped down/ soaked / boil washed everything in your house, that stench is now embedded in your nostrils. Forever.

Thankfully my little vomiting volcano is feeling much better now.

But sod that cold tea, where’s that bottle opener.