CAN WE PLEASE STOP BODY-SHAMING WOMEN?

I’d like to know when, if ever, it became socially acceptable to (a) comment on another’s size, be it to point out how thin or fat they are, and/or (b) openly compare another’s size to your own? I should hope the answer to both questions, is never. However, I’m finding myself increasingly inclined to believe we have made no such progress on the body-shaming front, and that if anything, it is more commonplace than ever to insult women with our body-fascism. Oh, and please don’t worry about this becoming a man-bashing, feminist (although I do openly identify as a SIW) rant, because perhaps unsurprisingly, it is women who are the most guilty of parties in this crime. Shame on you, you terrible anti-girl-power femmes! You make it impossible to castigate men for supposedly abhorrent sexist-driven objectification, when you insist on dishing out such cruelty to the women you seek to defend against such behaviours!

My particular aggrievance lies with individuals wanting to comment on the pregnant body. Mainly because this is my current state, and after insane levels of comments, I feel I’m pretty much an expert in this body-bashing field. As someone who has a very nondescript body-type (you’d consider me neither ‘fat’ or ‘thin’ if you were to even consider my body shape at all), pregnancy has been a body-shaming eye-opener for me. And yes, I know I’m in danger of sounding like a broken record, but I’m too pregnant (read angry) to care. You see, these size comments really are the stuff of progesterone-fuelled nightmares, and have an untold impact on the emotional wellbeing of us hormonally charged, and often paranoid child bearers. Therefore, I will continue to repeat this same ‘stop commenting on a pregnant woman’s bump’ message if it means even one pregnant woman is saved from the upset that such body-related comments have.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this type of body-bashing behaviour, is that most perpetrators would normally be the first to defend an individual’s right not to be aesthetically judged. Yet this freedom from insult, seems to evaporate upon their victim housing another human being. I’m assuming these individuals rationalise their behaviour on the basis they are commenting not on the individual’s size, but on that of someone else: the baby. Well here’s the thing. A woman’s bump gives no indication of the baby’s size. And what if it did? Well they’re essentially saying ‘gosh your baby is small/big for its gestational age’, which as we all know, can carry with it a myriad of potential health issues.

The other day I found myself having to defend my size to an acquaintance who already has two children, and quite frankly should have been more sensitive. Upon receiving her negative commentary that ‘you’re so small, much smaller than I was at your stage’, coupled with her disgusted expression, I (attempting to hold back my upset, and humour the lady!) suggested the height difference, my long body, or the fact I’ve never carried weight around my stomach but instead develop dumpy legs when I’ve been a bit greedy (yes I even put myself down), to somehow explain away her confusion. By the end I felt exasperated, and was beyond disheartened to learn I was not done for the day.  I was next informed by a man that my face was looking thinner and I needed to eat more (I mean what the hell?!), before later being informed by a lady that she has a bigger stomach than mine post-pizza. It’s almost laughable that my stomach should be considered the size of an unpregnant person’s even after pizza, and I say this despite having digestive issues which mean even the whiff of a gluten base causes me to balloon to King Kong proportions. Furthermore, it’s just not true…I now have to aggressively contort my face, and even back in the vicinity of a camera, so as to avoid a double chin and/or back fat (all depends on the angle…).

I would consider retaliating to these size comments by firing a devastatingly personal, and equally pointed comment in the direction of the offender, but that’s so against the matriarchy (is that even a thing?), and you know girl power…So instead I’ve settled on a far more pacifistic approach. Now, whenever I meet up with people I haven’t seen in a while, I commence our interaction by commenting on the size of my bump. I suppose I naively believe if I get there first, their inevitable bump judgement will sting less (it doesn’t)…but seriously how sad is that?!

I do wonder why these people (although let’s be honest, it’s mainly women) feel compelled to make such personal comments. What are they fuelled by? I’ve narrowed (was easy considering my tiny bump…) the driving force behind their cruelty down to all/one of the following: (a) a deep-seated insecurity which means they need to tear someone down who is openly joyous and happy at expecting a baby, (b) jealousy at the fact the pregnant individual may for once feel immune from the vanity that expectations of a ‘perfect’ body tend to bring, and so they want to remind them they’re still under the body police’s control, (c) a bizarre competitiveness? Think a ‘size off’ kind of contest (weird but no weirder than someone commenting on your bump size…), (d) insensitivity, and/or (e) I’m overthinking everything as usual. Some (including my mum) claim that people comment on my size (and others’) in a complimentary manner. This would be believable if it weren’t for the disgusted/horrified face they pull, and the disparaging manner in which they deliver their one-liner.

If you find yourself reading this and recalling the time you commented on a pregnant woman’s size, and thinking ‘I didn’t mean it like that’, well I ask you, what indeed did you mean by it? Because after extensive consulting of both current and past preggos, I can confidently and passionately declare that we didn’t like it, we don’t like it, and we’re left dumbfounded by your insensitivity every time (since you insist on repeating the bump comments EVERY single time we meet). So please do enlighten us on why you glare, stare, and insist on telling us we’re so ‘huge’ or ‘tiny’. We’re not dolls for goodness sake.

Individuals who comment on other people’s size, pregnant or not, are no better than the keyboard warriors who frequent the Daily Mail, and are potentially even worse since they seek to weakly disguise their mal-intent behind their otherwise whiter than white, and social etiquette-abiding demeanour. So if you’re one of these delightful individuals, I’d like to say that I’m sorry I’m tall, and that I’m not showing as much as I potentially would if I was shorter. I’m also sorry that another lady is ‘so big’. But you should also be sorry. Sorry for shaming her, shaming me, and for making us feel terrible about ourselves during a particularly vulnerable, and often terrifying time in a woman’s life. Shame on you.

I’d like to end by thanking my brother, who (I like to think) in an act of sibling solidarity, or because he remembers that unpregnant Georgia doesn’t waddle, comments ‘you’re so pregnant’, each time he sees me. I like his intonation, and the surprised tone he adopts each time he repeats this phrase. But I especially like the fact he doesn’t use the words ‘tiny’ or ‘big’. After all, I am so (in a strictly biological categorisation sense) pregnant.


N.B. In the vein of substance over form, and so my words rather than image are the focus of this post, I have resisted including photos of my ‘tiny’ 33 week-old bump.

 

I LOVE MONDAYS

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What’s not to love? The alarm signalling the start of another week of newness. The opportunity to begin afresh. Perhaps akin to a New Year on an ultra minute scale. Unlike the New Year, I do make resolutions for the week. As for this week, I have made a promise to myself, and to my husband, that I shall be productive and I will absolutely, definitely not procrastinate. 

With the exception of house or anything baby admin, for which I’m the proud owner of Excel spreadsheets, I’m one of those people that hoards ‘To-Do’s’. I get so caught up in the catharsis of making the To-Do list, and smugly revelling in my productivity at its creation, I don’t quite get around to its completion. To make matters worse, and in my bid to procrastinate further, I’ll often (whilst aiming to tick an item or five off my list) contemplate why I’m such a procrastinator*, and/or watch a vlog on ‘being a more productive human’, and ‘living your best productive life’ amongst other obnoxious titles.

Consequently, thanks to past Georgia, this last weekend has been one of overwhelm (on my part), and shock (on Rich’s part): ‘You have items on here dating back months’. Actually Rich, a year. Maybe two. And sadly, I was more caught up in revelling in his underestimation of my disorganisation (I blamed his puritanical indignation), than in (rightfully) owning my own shame.

Nonetheless, there’s nothing like a 10 week (and a bit) countdown to the biggest life changing event to stimulate even the laziest of us to start hitting life admin like no tomorrow. I mean, what’s the likelihood I will be any more likely to tick these items off when I have a squawking baby in tow?! Therefore, and despite the physical and mental pain I am expending in addressing them, I am doing just that.

In case you’re also struggling with procrastination, and you too despair of advice like ‘create a fake deadline’ or ‘find an accountability partner’, here are some tips which make ticking off that To-Do list semi-bearable:

(1) Create an exhaustive list.

That means everything you need to do is in one place. I’ve only recently started using the reminders app on my iPhone (thanks Rich). Rewind a couple of months, I had lists spread across ripped sheets from notebooks, in my phone notes, in Word docs, Excel sheets…Needless to say this is/was a quick-fire way to losing sight of the scale of your problem. N.B. In contradiction to how it might seem, I’m not inherently disorganised. Rather I’m all or nothing, and for a long time I’ve been all nothing…

(2) Ensure your list is realistic.

Will you really send thank you cards a month post-Christmas? Accept you’re an ungrateful recipient, you’re unlikely to receive a gift next year, and move on. So I wasn’t guilty in this regard, but there were tons of ridiculous items on my list, and Rich (despite my protestations) was right in questioning whether they a) warranted a spot on the list, and b) the mental energy I was expending on them. ‘Paint nails’ and tasks from 1.5 years ago certainly didn’t, and so I painfully removed them.

(3) Ask your people for help.

My parents and Rich are now the proud owners of some of the tasks. After all, we all know you must share. This tip will especially appeal to the dictatorial natural leaders among us.

(4) Mentally note (or set a reminder for a specific time…a far more aggressive way of tackling those tasks!) each evening before bed,  which items you will address first thing in the morning. Emphasis on first thing. You must face them head-on when you’re fresh, and semi-raring to go for the day.

(5) Switch up your environment.

This works for digital life admin only. Not so well for tasks like cleaning the house! If you’re a coffee tyrant like me pre-pregnancy, find a coffee shop and deposit yourself and laptop in a comfy seat, where high on caffeine you can pretend you’re having fun ticking off those tasks.

(6) Costs and benefits shake-up.

Ensure the benefits to you of completing your To-Do’s outweigh the costs. On a most basic level, consider rewarding yourself as you go. One item, one cookie…or perhaps if your procrastination has been as acute as mine, you’re better sticking to something non-food based.

(7) Tip for the future: If a task takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately.

Don’t even add it to your list. I’ve spent triple the time needed on simple tasks because they’re so old that I have to search my addled brain for what they’re in reference to, and/or locate the necessary documents hidden way back (amongst junk mail) in my inbox.

(8) If all else fails, accept you won’t do it, and stop wasting energy beating yourself up over it!

I’m sure if you started this article wondering why the title, you’ve probably figured out by now, that yes, I procrastinated in my writing of this post until Tuesday. As you can tell, it’s a long road ahead for me, and my procrastinating way!

Oh, one last tip: don’t be tempted to read self-help guides on addressing life admin. These are the ultimate in procrastination. Incredibly, I found I had to physically prise myself away from the below.

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*Such contemplation is never wise when you’re prone to obsessive introspection. Although, just in case you’re interested, I’ve narrowed it down to (a) stress…doing the items makes me feel stressed?!, and (b) perfectionism…I want to complete the items ‘just so’, and wait for the ‘perfect’ moment. Because of course, everyone needs to achieve perfection in mundane tasks like ‘sorting pension’…

WOULD YOU MIND KEEPING IT DOWN?

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So it’s finally happened. I’ve become that person. You know, the one who sends passive aggressive notes to the neighbours complaining about their noise? I’d like to apologise up front. Firstly, to myself for becoming such a bore (literally over night), secondly to our  overhead dweller (I think I did a good job…?), and lastly to everyone empathising with the unnamed tyrant, who is merely trying to live a sociable life at anti-social hours, in a block of poorly converted period flats.

If I was less hormonal, and therefore simultaneously less irrational and more tolerant, I would do the usual polite British thing, of silently harbouring resentment. Meanwhile building up to the day when I can take no more, and in a public showdown worthy only of Jeremy Kyle (think Jerry Springer), I declare pistols at dawn (cue the hair-pulling and egg-throwing) against nuisance neighbour. Or more likely, I plaster both our faces across my slanderous narration of ‘My Neighbour From Hell’ in the Daily Mail. Alas, my (in)sanity has (no) limits.

The thing is, it was 7am, and my husband (after much coaxing from me since a) his alarm was set long before mine, and b) he’s generally the sweeter of us two these days) had already tried the whole banging-on-the-ceiling-with-the-vacuum-wand trick. However, the cackling continued to rain down on us, and my tears threatened to rain down on him. Therefore, I was left with no choice. The shirty but nice note, penned itself.

Perhaps it’s the norm outside of London, or any big city for that matter, to communicate vis-à-vis with your neighbours, but here that would be sacrilege/nigh on impossible. Especially given we take it in turns to wait until the other one’s door has closed, before we creep along the corridor, and race out the communal entrance. I know she does it too. I’ve heard her breathing from behind the safety of her wooden portal!

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t our first threshold transmission. The first was when my husband, patiently following my (in)sane logic, requested that she remove the plugin air freshener from the corridor. Obviously, the dreadful device a) made me nauseous, and b) could make our baby sick with the deadly chemicals it was pumping out. She conceded. We also received a lovely letter back. I say lovely, because realising she was dealing with a pregnant head case, she had the good humour to make a ‘hope we bump into each other’ joke. Of course we never did ‘bump’ into each other, and given our hiding-behind-the-door act, I’m sure we never will.

Nonetheless, please don’t judge me. I had held off from taking a stand until her second selfish wakeup call. The first was two Saturdays ago, when at 2.16 am (yes I know my letter notes her crime almost casually, to the hour, but I could hardly confirm her suspicions I’m crazy could I?!), I thought it strange that I be awake and not needing to pee. That was until I heard our neighbour, and her awful accomplice, come crashing up the stairs, and against our door, where they would commence their hour-long mothers’ meeting.

Despite everything I’ve said, I do understand where my neighbour is noisily coming from. I’ve been there too, and I remember it all too well. Back when my husband and I were two youthful, and cool 22-year-olds. Scrap that. Back when we were two youthful (we were never cool) 22-year-olds, living in Parsons Green, we were the monsters/ life and souls of the party wreaking havoc. You’d find us hysterically laughing first thing in the morning, and then crashing through the communal door at 4am. Strangely, our neighbours-with-small-child didn’t see the funny side of our inconsideration either. On occasion, and undermining my previous argument that Londoners avoid face-to-face confrontation, the husband would appear sheepishly on the other side of a plea to ‘please keep it down’. Oh how we bemoaned our boring neighbours. Oh how they must have hated us.

I wonder what the turning point was for me. Perhaps London, or rather Londoners with their reckless abandon for other people’s welfare have defeated me, and my hormonal humanitarianism? After all, I’m at breaking point with people’s disregard for anyone outside of their virtue signalling vacuum. Or maybe the selfish veil of youth has finally been lifted? Maybe the last 22+ weeks of disturbed nights (thanks pregnancy bladder) have finally caught up on me? Or perhaps I’m clinging tightly to my 11 short weeks of remaining sleep (for the next 18 years)? I’ll never know. However, what I do know, is I’m sorry to everyone I have ever woken up in a communal living space. Especially to my parents.

 

LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU WHILE YOU’RE BUSY MAKING TO-DO LISTS

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Today was going to be so productive. It really was. It was going to be just like last weekend when we were up early, and buying boxes by 10am to organise our wardrobes (our Marie Kondo efforts will be shared in a later post!), brunching by 1pm, and home with mountains of washing done by 4pm. I had my To-Do list ready to go, subdivided into ‘House’, ‘Baby’, and ‘General Life Admin’.

Instead, we switched off our alarm, woke up naturally and shamefully late, sat around chatting with family (and me obsessively photographing the family dogs), lit a fire, and are now about to sit down to Bird Box on Netflix. Oh, and before I forget, my late night Thursday online mini shopping haul (of apparently all red items?) arrived, and I ordered a single item on my maternity bag list. That means I can feel some sense of achievement…right?!

I could sit and ponder on our wasted Saturday, but I’d much rather kick back and have cuddles with my poodle. Plus, we don’t have many of these lazy, guilt free weekends remaining so we kind of deserve it.

Movie snack recommendation (and best recent discovery): The Natural Confectionary Company Sour Squirms.