Saturday, 27 June 2015

Why children are so exhausting.

The terrible two.

My life is so much improved by having had a child.  I am the sort of person that always needed someone else to worry about in order to be content.  I wasn't very good at looking after myself for myself.  But for him; he's worth it.  I have to look after myself now because he needs me. Plus it's just great fun and the overwhelming love is as amazing as you've heard.  Now here comes the but...


That doesn't mean that it isn't the most exhausting lifestyle choice you can make.

I hated my job and it caused me endless stress and issues so I am glad to be away from it.  I now work in the evenings and at weekends to help pay the bills but I most definitely would not work at all if not entirely necessary.  This is because childcare is exhausting.  

I guess to some who have not done it that child care may seem like a lovely lifestyle.  Coffee mornings and play groups, singing nursery rhymes and doing some housework during nap time.  No job-related stress and demands from a boss.  Just spending time with your bundle of joy; watching them grow and develop - how exciting!  And all those things are great.

The 'but' comes in when you consider this.  

Having a child is like having an extra body that you cannot control; another set of arms, legs, another stomach, and another bum to worry about. Even though you are so intimately connected to this little person that you feel they are as important, if not more important than your own body parts, you have no idea what the brain is doing.  No idea what this little extension of you wants or needs; most of the time it's just a guess.  It get easier. Of course it does. But the seemingly simple task of taking care of children is a minefield of trial and error. 

Then there's all the guilt. Such a massive drain in itself. Should I feed him more? Should I feed him real food or jars, because that's all he'll eat? Is he too hot or too cold? Is he comfortable sitting there?  Has he just eaten something dangerous?  Choking.  Falling.  Hitting. Grabbing. Cutting.  They are a whirlwind of danger to themselves. They are like happy little suicidal drunks.  Children can't control their limbs properly but they are determined to use them with gusto. They are attracted to danger over and over and they think being told off is hilarious fun. 'No' 'hot' 'dirty' don't mean a thing to them for quite some time. They cannot walk but are determined to try no matter how many times they fall over and bash their heads.

When they do fall over there is the possibility of crying.  Oh the crying.  They can go from laughing to crying faster than a drunken single bridesmaid at her best mate's wedding.  For the parent of a crying child, it is torture.  And they don't just do it when they're in need of something life-sustaining.  For quite a while, they do it for EVERYTHING.  If they're bored.  If they want your crisps.  If they want a toy turned on.  If they've thrown their own dummy on the floor and they can't sleep without it so you have to go and pick it up for the FIFTIETH time.  And every time they are upset you feel that inside, even if you know there's nothing 'wrong' with them.  That in itself is so draining you just want to have a nap after a particularly whiny dinner time. 

Me?  Exhausting? 

All of these things make them joyous and exhausting in equal measure.  I realise that this is nothing new that hasn't been written about before but I just needed to share my version of it. Because even being in a room with my son is exhausting, let alone having to work, clean or cook.  And he hasn't even started walking yet.  And I have my eyes on 4 kids... 

We'll see how crazy two makes me and go from there... 

So, in short, children are exhausting because you're so damn fond of them.  If you didn't care as much about them they would probably still survive, but you'd be more relaxed.  But I wouldn't change it for the world; there would be no point having them if you didn't love them so much you go a little bit insane

.  There is some fun involved...

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Is it Feminist to...Call Yourself Fat?

You’re fat. You’re ugly, disgusting, gross, inhuman, unattractive, vile, unshagable, a
paper-bag-job.  Apologies for the seemingly abusive start but, are all of these synonyms for ‘fat’?  What does it mean to you?  If someone calls you 'fat' or you refer to yourself in that way, in your mind or out loud, what does it really mean?

According to the magic internet dictionary this is what it means-

adjective, fat·ter, fat·test.
1.  having too much flabby tissue; corpulent; obese: a fat person.
2.  plump; well-fed: a good, fat chicken.
3.  consisting of or containing fat; greasy; oily: fat gravy; fat meat.
4.  profitable, as an office: a fat job on the city commission.
5.  affording good opportunities, especially for gain: a fat business contract.

I’m talking about its use as an adjective, rather than a noun, as that is where the problem lies, the description of females as 'fat'.  So number 1 states that 'fat' is having “too much flabby tissue”.  What is too much?  If you are an average woman you will have more than an average man, is that too much?  If you have naturally large breasts and hips you will have more than someone who does not have such sizable body parts – is that too much?  Who is anyone to judge whether another person has too much or little of any given substance in their body?  Too much for what?  Too much to fit in a size 8 (which is arbitrary as there is no regulation amongst retailers in the UK)?  Too much to fit through that doorway?  Too much to be a dancer or gymnast?  Too much to be a human being??

Proof that we come in all shapes and sizes and all are healthy and beautiful.

In our culture calling someone ‘fat’ is not a compliment, it is an insult (unless they are part of fetish culture but then that’s a whole other issue).  The connotations of that insult are that the person you are referring to has too much fat to be considered attractive.  You might mean that they are overweight (which is a very contentious issue as some athletes are considered obese according to their BMI)  e.g. unhealthy which also indicates unattractiveness as we are inherently attracted to people who we think we can reproduce with, and reproduction is tougher if you are unhealthy in any way.  But people that are unhealthy in a variety of ways fall in love and have children every day; there's no insult for someone with poly-cystic ovaries, for example.  It is vital that we have language to describe people's health relating to their weight as we can't shy away from these issues altogether.  But I would argue that 'underweight' and 'overweight' are perfectly servicable and the words 'fat' and even 'skinny' can be discarded for their emotive and offensive connotations.  They both imply something more than just factual information about someone's body shape.  They imply 'too much' or 'too little' and can make people feel bad about themselves unnecessarily. 

Now we all know that it is how you feel that is important; how you feel inside, physically and about your appearance.  We know that we should worship and love and take care of our bodies and that how we look is not really that important.  But the world around us is conveying a different message; any woman that is not a size 8-10 is not really represented in fashion, television, and the media at large which can make even the most secure person start to feel like they are not ‘normal’, that they are not ‘right’, that they are ‘other’; compared to people who are that size most of us are ‘fat’.  Most of us have ‘too much’ if we measure ourselves using that standard.

All of these women are 'real women' and all are beautiful to someone.

The word ‘fat’ is a tool of the media to describe (mostly) women in a sensationalised way in order to sell more magazines and newspapers, and in turn this makes us as readers/observers feel like we need to change to fit in.  That change, strangely enough, involves diet books, gyms, exercise classes, diet meals and membership fees to diet clubs.  Funny that.  It is no coincidence that making you feel shit about yourself leads to them making money.  Women's weight is not the only insecurity created in order to make removal products, I'm looking at you.  It also ties in to the idea that women are more valued for their looks than their thoughts and what they have to say.  If we are not hairless from the neck down, and acceptably slim we are invisible.  Features such as 'the ring of shame' and criticism of female celebrities loss or gain in weight only serves to focus our attention on our own bodies and perceived 'imperfections' linked to being 'fat' like cellulite, stretch-marks and 'muffin-tops', all of which are natural and acceptable features of a human body.

An 'up-yours' to those who criticise your body is the only way.

So next time you think you need to diet (despite being perfectly healthy) or do exercise you don’t enjoy, next time you shy away from wearing something or doing something because you are worried about being too ‘fat’, think this instead; I am a human, with a body and I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks of it (unless they are being nice).  If you are uncomfortable because you know that your weight is affecting your health then change your lifestyle to fit in more movement (that you enjoy) and change your eating habits.  But don’t call yourself ‘fat’.  Your partner, your friends, your family, and anyone who respects you as a human being would not refer to you using that word, so you shouldn’t either.

As Feminists we need to think carefully about the words we use to describe each other, but also the ones we use to describe ourselves.  Don't use these words that have been invented or bastardised by others to provide hurt and insult and make women feel like they are less.  Self-deprecation is a standard human activity but women have many more ways to hate themselves than men; stop the word 'fat' (and 'skinny') from being one of them.

What's the deal with Ruby Rose?

For the time being, let's ignore the fact that I haven't posted on here for over a year due to keeping a small person alive (this is a very time-consuming activity; in case you hadn't heard), and instead, let's talk about what everyone else is talking about.

For this post I'm not aiming for originality - I realise that everyone and his dog is writing about this woman - but it's just been the first topic I've been compelled to write about since birthing the boy.

The inspiration came from watching a short film entitled 'Break Free', that the woman of the hour made herself; it shows her transformation from a very stereotypical version of a female model to a truer, some might say more 'masculine', version of herself, and the one that more closely resembles her character in hit show 'Orange is the New Black'.  This transformation perfectly encapsulates why she is attractive to so many different people.  She is undeniably attractive; even if you weren't attracted to her, you could not say that she was ugly.  She has a very symmetrical face, large eyes, full lips and a slender and healthy-looking physique.  But that's not it.  That's not what has prompted tweets, Facebook statuses and even articles that men and women who consider themselves to be straight or gay have written saying 'I would'.  (Lucky her!  What an honour that many random strangers would do you given half the chance...)

Being married to a man, in a definitively monogamous relationship, means that I 'wouldn't' (shag her, just in case you hadn't caught on).  But after watching her performance in OITNB I definitely feel myself being attracted to her in a way that I am not usually to women.  Obviously there are many women who I consider to look attractive but that's not the same.  As with most people, I'm not just attracted to someone because of what their mumma and daddy gave them.  Genes can only get you so far.  It's a combination of so many things including sense of humour, attitude to life, values, the way someone moves, speaks and how they present themselves.  The way that Ruby Rose presents herself is very much appealing to many people.  She is the perfect storm: beautiful but edgy;  tattooed and stylish; short hair, but not devoid of hair (on her head, I mean...there is a scene of her naked in the show but I wasn't really focused on the state of her body hair).  She does not conform to the pressures that many beautiful women feel to have long hair, fake tits, wear loads of make-up and wear dresses and high heels - be 'feminine'.

She is the perfect combination of things that both people who are attracted to men and women find attractive.  Plus she just comes across (as her character and in real life) as mysterious and interesting and what's not sexy about that?  It's brilliant because it's making people realise how little the labels imposed on us matter.  Female/male. Gay/straight. Masculine/feminine.  Even though none of these are inherently offensive words (unlike some other labels people like to throw at gender-fluid people) they can be incredibly limiting in society today.  The body you have under your clothes doesn't matter.  It's who you are and how you present yourself that matters and it's clear that Ruby Rose is damn cool and very alluring.  I don't think nearly as many people would think she was so stunning without her tattoos and with the long blonde hair that she sports in wig-form at the beginning of her short film.  It's how she presents her personality via the way she looks that makes her more beautiful and interesting.

It is sad that it took this long for some people to realise that gender-fluidity is beautiful, interesting and acceptable and it's a shame that it took someone who is quite so beautiful to be the poster child for it (us humans are the most shallow animals), but we just need it to happen, however that may be.  Hopefully it is a step towards gender-fluidity being more accepted or even celebrated; men wearing dresses or make-up and not being treated like freaks, women having short hair and never wearing heels or make-up and still being deemed attractive and respected within society - or even just not being asked if they're ill...come on, people.

I'm sure it feels like a massive amount of pressure on someone who has only just come into the limelight in such a big way; she is bound to be a role model for many young people struggling with gender identity and identity in general, but so far, she seems to be handling it with panache.

Have you experienced gender-fluidity yourself?  What do you think of Ruby Rose?  What do you think of the new season of OITNB?  (No spoilers!!)

Tell me below or here @myfeministlife or here