Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Jumping for joy...
While we were drinking our first beer of the day on holiday we watched a couple take photographs of each other. Posing this way and that way, they would pause to take a look at the screen, giggling together and then take a few more. At one point the man put on full snorkeling gear - mask, snorkel and flippers and did the biggest leap into the air. I'm not too sure if that photo even came out, his girlfriend was laughing so much I doubt the camera was steady.
Sion asked me if we should take some photos, but we found ourselves giving reasons not to - "I'm not quite tanned enough", "I ate too much at breakfast time", reasons or excuses? Then the perfect photo day dawned, beautiful blue sky, only a gentle breeze occasionally cooling your face and so the camera was taken out for our lunchtime stroll.
Pretty soon we were like the couple we had seen, taking photos of each other and laughing at the result - but it was more about "Look at my gut", "Oh my god, I've got a double chin", "My nose is so red". We took the obligatory jump shots and while Sion is leaping high, my best one had barely an inch or two of lift. I could say that is the reason I almost chose Sion's photo for my J is for Jump post, but I wouldn't be telling the truth.
When did I become one of those women who constantly compared herself to others? The lead up to the holiday involved weeks of gym sessions, protein shakes, salads and alcohol free days. Did it make any difference? I'm not too sure. I found myself poring over magazines, looking for ways to achieve a beach perfect body in only 8...6...4 weeks. If I see another spread of "Fabulous at 40" supermodels and actresses, who have the luxury of facials, personal trainers and the surgeon's scalpel to help along the way, I can't be held responsible for what I might do.
We are all so aware of the effect airbrush images have on teenagers and young adults, yet here I am, a woman of almost 36, still having body hang ups. I have over 20 years on some teenage girls but hand on my heart, I couldn't sit in a room and tell them I don't feel the same way as them. Sure I probably could get back to having the body I had at 18, but it would involve a lot of money, sweat, starvation and pain.
I looked long and hard at my Jump photo and asked myself "What do I see?". At first I saw a body that is the heaviest it's ever been, I saw a tummy that despite the countless sit ups stays defiantly wobbly, I saw a nose that is always red. Then I asked myself to look deeper, now what did I see?
I saw a strong body, capable of lifting all 12 stone into the air. I saw a body preparing itself to create and nurture a baby (just not quite yet!). I saw a body capable of swimming, cycling and walking for hours. I saw a image of a happy, healthy 30-something woman jumping joyfully into the air, while the man of her dreams snaps away. I saw something to be proud of, me.
And that is why the photo you see is not of Sion, but is of me...in all my beer drinking, holiday eating, bikini wearing glory. I'd be happy to show it to a roomful of teens and say "This is me". I think perhaps we should all dig out a photo and proudly ask "What do I see?"