Sizing Up ‘Mermaid Thighs’.

A new trend has apparently swept social media and women are feeling happier and perkier because of it. It’s called ‘mermaid thighs’ and is (and I quote): ‘curvy thighs that meet like a mermaid’s tail.’ Sounds like everyday regular thighs to me but, to my surprise, I found over 6,000 posts on Instagram tagged with #mermaidthighs, all proclaiming body positivity.

I am 110% for body positivity and if you want to post a photo of your thighs for the world to see, then go for it. My issue with ‘mermaid thighs’ is that something that 98% of women have is being treated as a trend. It is not a trend. I’m always late when it comes to following trends anyway and having big thighs is not something I wanted to try for a while and then discard when something new comes along- I was born this way, so I work with it. 

Why are people marvelling in wonder at such a thing? ‘Oh my word- a pair of big thighs! On a woman! Wow!’ Seriously? It is a normal thing that a lot of women have, like cellulite or short eyelashes, so pardon me if I do not see why ‘mermaid thighs’ are considered revolutionary.

If we go back in time to the whole ‘thigh gap’ phase, as we all should know by now that was something promoted to make women feel inferior to models and celebrities who had these airbrushed into their pictures. Of course, there are naturally slim women who have naturally slender thighs and that’s lovely but this is not about them- this is about women like me who have thighs that could start a fire (possibly). Possessing a pair of ‘mermaid thighs’ sounds nice but is not something that I feel needs a funky name attached to it. Nor is it something to be ashamed of. To class it as a trend is problematic. We should not treat it as something that is in season one minute, but when summer comes around, suddenly it is ot of fashion. It is a vicious circle that messes with women’s heads as they feel like they are never enough. To put it bluntly, it’s bullshit. 

So as I say, if you want to post your big beautiful thighs (or other parts of your body) on social media, do it- but don’t be sucked into doing it as part of a ‘trend’. For many of us, it’s a fact of life so sod your trendy terminology. I’ve got chunky thighs and that’s that. 

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Love Yourself.

This year I am trying to do better in various aspects of my life. One of my main goals is learning to love myself because such a thing does not come easily to me. 

So imagine my interest when I came across an article today which listed fifty ways to love yourself. I had a read and it was ok, but I soon realised that this list was for someone who most likely lived in sunny California, not in wintry London Town. 

Telling me to ‘skinny dip in the ocean’ as an act of self-love is not going to work. The nearest thing to an ocean where I live is the River Thames and I would not wish skinny dipping in there on my worst enemy. There are absolutely no healing properties in that murky river, unless you count the ice-cold feeling that envelops you as you dive in.  

Another thing they mentioned was to ‘catch the sunrise’. This sounds lovely and I’ll admit it is nice to wake up in the summer to the sun shining and birds chirping, getting a fresh cup of tea and eating grapefruit in your garden or on your balcony, feeling like you’re in Florida. But when it is winter it’s a different story. It is pitch black when you wake up and the last thing you want to do is look at the sun. You flinch at the bathroom light when you wash your face. Then you moan about your impending commute and having to stand next to someone who either: 

A) has smelly armpits 

B) coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth

C) is playing music which is leaking through their tinny headphones while you’re trying to have a nap. 

By the time you get to work (or your train comes up from underground) you have missed the sunrise.


Another one was to breathe deeply all the time. Let’s be honest, this is not really feasible. Meditation is a great thing, but breathing deeply all day every day will result in people looking at you as if you’ve gone mad. It’s not a doctors appointment! There will be times when your breath will be shallow as a puddle, so maybe you should save your (deep) breath for those moments instead. 

So here are a few of my ways to love yourself. There aren’t fifty of them…but at least I won’t be telling you to go skinny dipping in an ocean:

•Stop comparing yourself to other people. 

Do not feel inferior just because someone you know has achieved something big, or that random woman on the bus looks amazing and full of confidence. For all you know, they might be comparing themselves to you. There is only one of you so own it. 



•Have a chat with someone you like/love about life. 

This might sound like small talk but it’s not- it must be with someone you can tolerate for more than five minutes. Bonus points if you start talking about random crap. 

•Laugh like a hyena at something funny. 

I was in a mood the other day and sat moping on the train, when I came across a video of a man in a polar bear suit falling over on an ice rink several times. It did the trick because I cried with laughter and the woman sitting opposite me momentarily looked a bit worried.



•Wear something that makes you happy. 

It could be the brightest or the blackest item in your wardrobe. It could be a red lipstick or a fedora for all I care, but if it makes you feel golden when you wear it, then put it on. 

•Dance.                                                             

The thing about dancing is that a lot of people get nervous about it. I love dancing but even I take a while to feel comfortable enough to get on the dancefloor (once I am, everybody. Stand. Back.). Don’t worry if you have no co-ordination or rhythm or you don’t look ‘cool’- just embrace it. If you’re still unsure, two-step all the way and add a bit of your own sass. As choreographer Martha Graham once said: “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.”

Do not put yourself down.                  

There are enough people out there doing that for you. When that feeling comes a-crawling, shake it off and think of something that makes you feel good. Keep hold of that thought for as long as possible and go on from there. Yes, you can’t be positive twenty-four hours a day but there must be something about you that makes you go, ‘yeah…I’m alright, y’know.’

Take heed of your own advice.        

If you’re the one that your friends turn to for advice, but you never take heed of your own words, you need to start doing so. Now. 

List your favourite things, or things that happened that made you smile. 

These things could have happened today or across an entire week but whatever they are, write them down (and no, I don’t mean seeing someone you don’t like having karma pay them a visit. It has to be positive, so your negative thoughts about that man/woman in the other department can wait until another time). 

Show Love.

Today is World Mental Health Day so I wrote this. 💛

Show love and be kind to yourself,

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

It is futile and makes no sense

(I know this from personal experience).

Life is not supposed to be a race

We’re all slightly odd, there’s no disgrace

If you’re feeling down and lost and low

And you feel there’s nowhere you can go

Or no one to talk to, take a look around

There’s always an outlet to be found

That’s available, so try and take heed

Whenever you’re ready or feel the need

Sometimes in life, the shit hits the fan

And ruins all your best made plans

It might sound trite but be positive,

Because you’ve got so much to give. 

© G. Holder 2016.

Smoky and the Bullshit.

I woke up this morning to hear that e-cigarettes could be available to smokers on the NHS. I already wasn’t in the mood to get up and go to work and this nonsense has made me even more annoyed. The NHS is supposed to help people, not become a crutch for those who can’t be bothered to give up smoking.

I think this is an absolutely ridiculous idea and I’m sure I’m not the only one saying this. If smokers want to smoke- or even kick the habit -then that is their choice, but surely it would be more beneficial if nicotine patches and gum were free on the NHS? These are designed to help people try to give up smoking and also, from what I have seen in the shops, these items are very expensive (£10 for a pack of nicotine gum?!). E-cigarettes should not be prescribed. At all. Anyway those that want one can afford to get one and already have one, judging by how many I see smoking them in the street.
           
There are medicines out that are held back from being made available on the NHS because it is allegedly too expensive- things that are far more important than e-cigarettes.
If you want to make a list of what should be prescribed on the NHS, how about tampons and sanitary towels or pads, especially for women like me who suffer terribly every month? Nah, of course not because the powers-that-be hang us women out to dry and make us spend our hard-earned cash bulk-buying in Boots and Superdrug. To them, it is all about the revenue they make from such life-affirming products (you may mock but they are the difference between dignity and the embarassment of leaking on a chair on your heaviest bloodiest day). I hate to say this but if men had periods, pads would be available on the NHS. Mind you we had a woman in power and what did she do for us in that area? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

So far, this e-cigarette idea is merely a proposal- nothing is set in stone. But if it becomes reality, it will make a mockery of the NHS and what it is truly about.

The Election Section.

Just a quick note on tomorrow’s general election. The day is nearly upon us where Britain decides who they are voting for. Most people I have spoken to are still undecided and won’t make up their mind until they get in the polling booth. I think I know who I am voting for but, much like this election, anything can happen.

Here are my thoughts on a few things that are important to me and will influence who I vote for. 

1. The NHS. It needs sorting. Get rid of some of the Chief Executives of certain hospital trusts who seem to do nothing of note. Take their massive six-figure salaries and spend it on the essentials. Wards! Beds! Staff! Training of doctors and nurses! The NHS saved my life many times and there is not one person in this country who has not been indebted to this great big creaking system. It is a vital part of the tapestry of British life. It does not need endless budget cuts, nor does it need to be privatised, it needs to (in the words of Dizzee Rascal) fix up, look sharp. An overhaul of some sort but for the love of God, no privatisation because if it is, we are all fucked. There is no other way of putting it. 

2. Housing. We need more affordable housing; places big enough for people to live in and to swing a cat in (figuratively, of course). It’s all well and good building houses but not everyone can afford to get on the property ladder, particularly in London and if you read the load of cobblers known as the Evening Standard newspaper, you’ll understand why. All they do is talk about the ultra-expensive properties owned by oligarchs and the like, which are just like a really fit man: great to look at and fantasise, but (in my case) out of reach. Speaking of London…

3. London. Gentrification is rife and I understand the need to turn certain parts of the capital into more well-kept areas…but this is not always a positive. I hate the way it appears to be turning into a rich man’s playground, with oligarchs and sheikhs helping prices to hike up and go through the roof. I hate how certain establishments are closing down; places where people gathered to feel at home and find a sense of belonging. The number of pubs are dwindling and I find that to be a shame. Many are turning into fancy gastropubs and places where they serve food on manky wooden chopping boards. If we are not careful, London will become more…minimalist. Stripped down, homogenous, lifeless and bland- everything that it is not. 

4. Travel. Stop the absolute travesty that is the high-fallutin’ HS2 railway system and the potential trampling of the great British countryside and concentrate on fixing up the current national rail service, dammit! The whole country knows how bad it is (see London Bridge and plenty of other mainline train stations nationwide), but the powers-that-be have their heads in the sand and would rather spunk money up the wall on a new toy to show off to their new friends in faraway places than focus on what is wrong at the moment. Look at what happened just last week at Clapham Junction- the train broke down andpassengers had to be led off the tracks. Engineering works are always overrunning and yet we are all paying more every year for late and terrible service. David Cameron said the Conservatives will freeze train fares if he wins this election. But Crossrail and HS2 do not come cheap, so how the hell is he going to see through this fare freeze? It is unlikely this will go to plan, Dave…

Anyway, I hope the right person and party (or parties) get into 10 Downing Street and things get better, not bleaker for us all. 

Life’s A Beach.

So 43,000 people have now complained about this beach body advert plastered all over the London Underground:

image

I have three words for the moaners:
Get over yourselves.   

I have seen this advert everyday on my commute and am baffled by the fuss- a slim woman in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow non-polka-dot bikini is standing tall and supposedly ‘beach body-ready’ and some people are boohoo-ing about it. I have heard that it is ‘fat shaming and offensive to larger sized women’. In my humble opinion, that is bollocks.

I have a big wobbly stomach, bingo wings and thighs that could start a fire when they rub together, but this ad has absolutely no effect on me. I just see a woman looking nice on a poster…and that’s it. I certainly don’t feel ashamed for being curvy because everybody is different. Besides, I wouldn’t wear a bikini.

I am astonished at how such an innocuous poster could cause such a mad reaction. Plenty of ads like this have been plastered on the tube and various other places for years and nobody cried foul over them. Everyone is bleating over the smallest thing nowadays and it’s so tiresome. I thought we were better than this.

People say it makes them feel ‘physically inferior’ and even asking for it to be banned. Give me a break! I am all for women (of all shapes and sizes) feeling confident and looking their best but seriously, this moaning needs to stop. I look nothing like this woman. I’m self-conscious and had my fair share of body issues but this poster does not make me feel inferior and you should not feel that way either. In fact, the more people are kicking up a fuss, the more I want it to stay. Be more offended by the numerous posters plastered around telling you how you can get a loan with 2000% APR.

I’ve Got the (Will)Power!

The above statement might make you think ‘Well yes, surely everyone does?’ But for the whole of last month until Good Friday yesterday, I gave up chocolate, cake and biscuits- and it was a personal success.

For a former chocoholic like me who was slowly turning into a grazing heifer, this had been a long time coming. My willpower had abandoned me (or so I thought) and I knew I had to do something about it. Previous attempts at giving up the sweet treats were very short-lived: I once gave up for three hours before diving into a pack of chocolate digestives. At work, I sit next to a hamper full of the stuff that I am trying to avoid and would often dip my hand in without thinking. If I did not get my sugar rush I would even get ratty, plus I was also worried about the amount of refined sugar I consumed on a daily basis. Everyday I was indulging my sweet tooth and I had to cut it out. Literally. So I did.

The weird thing is initially it was really easy to stay away from the sweet stuff. I ate more fruit and body-swerved any cake thrust in front of me. But after the first couple of weeks, I started daydreaming about cake. My nerve was further tested by the cake trolley that was wheeled around my workplace one day. I’m still haunted by the doorstop-sized slices of Victoria sandwich cake that I could have bought, with the buttercream and jam oozing out. It was practically screaming at me, ‘Don’t you want me?!’ (at least I think it was). 

On top of that, my friend bought a salted caramel cheesecake a couple of weeks ago, the likes of which I had never seen before. Brilliant white cheesecake surrounding a seductive chocolate and salted caramel centre- oh, the temptation was real, people. And just this week, there was another baking competition at my work (they love to bake and make us fat) but I managed to control myself- I think I was all caked out. Although I found myself eating more crisps as a substitute (though not too many), I also rediscovered my love of apples.

Soon, the end was nigh and somehow I resisted all the cakes and chocolate and biscuits that were thrown at me every mid-morning, every time I was in the queue in a supermarket and every time I looked in my cupboards. I feel very proud of myself because nobody believed I could do it, including myself. ‘Yeah right’ was the default response from my friends. Going cold turkey worked and even though I was not craving chocolate as much as I thought I would, I celebrated the only way I knew how: with a couple of dark chocolate digestive biscuits. But in the aftermath, I found that my tastebuds had gone rogue as I hate the dark chocolate ones now. So it was a bittersweet moment (ba-dum-tish). On the plus side, my skin didn’t breakout as much as it used to and I lost three pounds in weight which is a bonus, so I fully intend to continue down this road.