Dear CK & KK,
Hope all is well in nieceville and nephewville. You’re too young to know it, but I just turned 50. In all fairness your father did make you, KK, because you’re capable of standing and singing, video sing Happy Birthday to me. It was cute. But, it wasn’t as fucking cute as the ice cream and cake I had on my birthday and that’s what today’s letter to you is all about.
You see, I’m one of probably almost every fucking woman in the Western world – and now, men too – who has body image problems. I’ve lived just under half a century with them and so I feel pretty well versed on the subject. I should point out that the only reason that it’s been slightly less than half a century, despite me reaching that landmark, is that I don’t recall having body image problems for the first several years of my life.
Body image. What a fucking narcissistic privileged thing to have, for the most part. I suppose it does exist in all cultures though, to a certain extent. People adorn their bodies, paint them, mutilate them, mark them, fatten them, alter them and generally express themselves through the package that holds all their body fluids together, all over the world. They do it due to societal and cultural pressures, mores, fads and fashions. I happen to believe that the need to be thin is somewhat decadent in a part of the world where we waste half the food we produce while the rest of the world suffers from malnutrition.
So, let’s get back to my body image problem. Far more important. It all started pretty young as the house was generously littered with 70’s standard porn magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse. Now I could justify this by saying that my parents were into free love and they didn’t see sex as a bad thing, but the truth is that my father was simply a misogynistic perv. Anyway, these magazines were full of beautiful, naked women who, to a child, must have seemed like the pinnacle of womanhood. After all, my father would spend hours looking at them.
70’s nude models were my first body role models, which, it’s tragic to say, was a damn site healthier than the body role models available to girls today. Then there was being told I was fat by my ever so helpful father, repeatedly, even though I wasn’t fat. But the belief stuck. In all fairness, we’re very sensitive creatures when we are young and I remember a physical exam in school, which were hideously humiliating, the doctor said out loud ‘knock knees’. As a result, I tried desperately to cover my knees for years to come. After that came the abuse from boys in school over my over enthusiastic breasts, which chose to arrive largely, proudly and early.
So, there you have it. Truthfully, I was a very pretty, not fat, girl with lovely legs. Fancifully, I believed I was a fat, ugly girl with terribly knocked knees and that belief harangued me throughout my youth. It, predictably, resulted in a stint with anorexia and, eventually morphed into bulimia. Binging and puking; the art of tasting a meal twice. I can only recommend that as a theory for Italian food, which really does taste the same coming back up as it does going down. Curry, not so much.
I digress. So, I spent my youth as a rather good looking woman inflating and deflating as my body image dictated. In hindsight, there are plenty of things that I can identify as patterns that dictated my weight at the time. Let me share these observations with you.
Things that made me fat
1. Eating lots of food that I like.
2. Cooking lots of food that I like.
3. Sharing meals with lots of people that I like.
4. Drinking wine with people that I like.
5. Being focused on activities that I enjoy so that I can’t spend time worrying about keeping my weight down.
Things that made me not fat
1. Taking drugs.
2. Being sad.
3. Being anxious.
4. Spending lots of time on my own focusing on keeping my weight down.
Looking at these lists, I see that the only thing that is on the ‘Things that make me not fat’ list that I really enjoy, are drugs. Now I’m too old for all that, though I won’t turn down a puff on a joint now and again. But this is where it gets interesting, at least for me.
You see, my life has, for the most part, been one long act of rebellion. I rebelled and left home early as a teenager, preferring a feral existence on the streets. I rebelled on the streets and evolved myself into quite a little revolutionary. Anarchism – check. Animal liberation – check. Feminism – check. Fuck the police – check. Human rights – check. Civil rights – check. Squatting – check. Anti capitalism – check. Up the working class – check. Up the revolution – check. Be in a punk band – check. Tattoos – check. Riots – check. Do things for which the statute of limitations may not have yet been surpassed – check. When they made me, they definitely should not have broken the mold. The perfect rebel prototype.
But what is the true rebel nature? That is something to be explored and you can thank me, because I strapped on the safety equipment and attempted to deconstruct the great model of rebellion that I was and I came to this conclusion. Rebellion is all about fighting the ‘power’…whatever the power might be. But the ultimate rebellion is about fighting the ultimate power and the ultimate power is our own mortality. That’s why we rebels live dangerously, fast, recklessly and often leave a trail of chaos in our wake. We tempt every fate possible in an attempt to fight our own mortality, to prove that we can somehow win against it.
Unfortunately, I saw many of my contemporaries fail in that regard. From watching a young 21 year old man jump off a bridge right in front of me and drown in the River Thames to watching the last tremors of a heroin overdose induced seizure in a grimy squat in south London, I’ve seen far more than my fair share of failed rebels. But if you are a true rebel, seeing your comrades die in the struggle only motivates you to further extremes. It’s as if you have taken on the burden of their rebellion and have to now, fight this battle, carrying their rebel spirits on your back like a bunch of devilish cheerleaders in a war that will, ultimately, be lost.
Well kids, your Badass Auntie has just turned 50. Yep. Half a fucking century. There’s no way I should have lived this long. When I look around at my fellow rebels, who also survived, they are all in a similar state of complete disbelief. The worst part is that some of us, rather than carry on with our true warrior rebel calling have, instead, surrendered to normality, conformity and fuck, because of that, their mortality has won and stares them in the face every single day.
I’m fucking delighted to reassure you that I will never relent. ‘Capitulation’ is not in my future. I now know that the battles I have won along the way have proven that I am a rebel soldier who shall not be defeated until I’m well and truly fucking dead and I don’t intend that to happen for another half century. The problem is that as you get older, wiser and you have fewer fucks to give, you also need to become more creative with your rebellion.
So, I present you with my latest act of rebellion and it’s a doozy because being a woman, in this day and age, with all the pressures of aesthetic conformity to deal with (even from people who would claim to know better), being fat and 50 is an ultimate act of rebellion. For fuck’s sake, look at these older women on TV who are having their stomach’s stapled, their tits done and god knows what they are doing to their hoohas. Even Roseanne Barr, the queen of not giving fucks, has subjected herself to the necessary surgeries to make her look like a not fat old woman. Seriously? We’re old. We’re over half a century. Sharon Osbourne, who fucked Ozzy Osbourne for decades, now feels obliged to look slim? Rosie O’ Donnell? Arrrrggghhhh. These were supposed to be women rebels of my generation and look at them now.
Let me tell you about why being fat and 50 fills my rebel hole so beautifully. First of all, after a whole life of body image insecurity and self hatred over that, I am finally at a place whereby – and no, I’m not going to give you some sugar coated load of crapola about how I now love my body and think every part of it is beautiful because that would be a fucking lie – I accept that I hate my body and never will like it whether I’m fat or thin, so why should I even spend any more effort worrying about it. I’m a great believer of getting over ourselves and I simply have had to get over myself. When I was fit and beautiful I thought I was fat. When I was fat I thought I was fat. So what’s the fucking point?
I’m over it now. Thank you very much. And being 50 and giving no fucks had a lot to do with that. You see, I understand that no matter how much I hated my body or still hate it, I’m still my same fabulous self. I also understand that all those poor people, and I do feel so very very sorry for them, who think that being fat is why they can’t get laid or find a partner – are so fucking misled it’s criminal. Being fat does not stop you from being fuckable, desirable or hot.
Ask the many fat women who are in happy marriages, have amazing sex lives and who date regularly. It’s in your fucking head and until you get over yourself, it doesn’t matter what your body looks like because no one will want to date you, marry you or fuck you if you are miserable, self obsessed, narcissistic prannet who obsesses over what they look like and what everyone thinks of them all day. Stop. It.
The other reason I feel it’s an act of rebellion is because I have a lifetime of yo yo dieting behind me and I know full well how to make myself lose weight. Fuck – I even wrote a list above. I just have to stop eating things I love, cooking things I love, sharing meals of things I love with people I love and stop drinking the wine I love. You know what rebels say?
But there’s more. If I deem to conform to society’s pressure to lose weight I will have to put up with everyone around me congratulating me when they see me. ‘Oh Badass Auntie, you look great.’ I looked great before and you told me so all the time or were you lying you fucker. ‘Wow, you look fantastic. Well done.’ Well done? Well fucking done? For depriving myself of the things I love and enjoy just so that you find me easier on the eye? Fuck you! ‘How did you do it? You look amazing!’ I did it by starving myself of everything I love. You do realise that now that I’m too old to take drugs, my final indulgences are food and wine? You do realise that, you fucker? So please, join me in my misery so you can do it too.
Oh, and then it gets worse. You then get the one who, because they wish to not sound offensive, make themselves sound like a total wankwad ‘You always look gorgeous, but I have to say that you’re looking exceptionally good now. The effort is really paying off.’ So, what you mean, you arsehole, is that you were judging my weight and thinking about it before. Seriously, if you’re not sexually fantasising about me or making me a custom fitted swim suit, you don’t need to think about my body. Yes, I always look gorgeous, as you mentioned so there really is no need to comment further. Fucker.
Need I remind everyone that while I’m fat and I say ‘I’m fat’, the correct response is not ‘No you’re not. You’re gorgeous.’ That implies that I’m lying, when in fact, I know I’m fat, so you’re the one lying. It also suggests that I can’t be fat AND gorgeous, which I am. So, the next time I say ‘I’m fat’, feel free to say ‘and fucking fabulous’. Just in case you were wondering.
Staying fat for now, is actually an act of kindness, ensuring that I don’t have to tell otherwise quite nice human beings to go fuck themselves and that I don’t want their opinion on the current circumference of my body. If rebels are nothing else, they are kind. Anyway, as I often remind people when they act shocked that I’m 50 (yeah, I look pretty fucking good) – after 40 you have to choose between your figure or your face. This was apparently coined by the fabulously bizarre Dame Barbara Cartland (you probably haven’t heard from her, so google her or enjoy this video of her and Zsa Zsa Gabor
‘But what about your health?’ I hear you whine – because of course, no one can stand a fat person who doesn’t care if they’re fat and need at least one last shot in the dark to make them care. I went to my doctor. I did. I thought ‘If the doctor tells me I have to lose weight for my health then at least I’ve got an excuse. So, when those fuckers start congratulating me on losing weight, I can terminate the topic by saying ‘it’s a medical necessity’. ‘ Well, the doctor said ‘Gaining weight during menopause is normal and you’re perfectly healthy. Whatever you’re doing keep on doing it.’ I can still do stuff that I’m not supposed to do for my age and I’m still active. I test myself regularly and do things that might hurt to see if they will. As long as they don’t, I’m good to go.
Let’s look at Kate Moss and her healthy advice about staying slim ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ and you know what? It’s probably true if you’ve smoked so fucking much and snorted so much fucking coke that you can’t taste food anymore.
So there you have it. Don’t think I’m going to take this rebellion to the extreme. I have no plans to get so fat that impacts on my ability to do things I want to do, like eat food I love, drink wine I love, share food I love with people I love and cook food I love, but be certain that this is now a conscious decision. At 50, the best way to tempt mortality is to face it, head on and I need some weight behind me to do that right now. Should mortality ever test my resolve and being fat becomes an issue, then I will find a new method of rebellion. Should I ever fucking fancy losing weight, then I will lose weight. If you think it’s appropriate to comment on it, be prepared because I like delicious food with fabulous friends accompanied by great wine about a fucking million times more than I like pleasing you.
Love you two kiddlywinkles.
Now it’s time for my topic appropriate Badass Auntie agony aunt letter.
Dear Badass Auntie,
I’m 13 and I don’t like playing ball or many other sports. I’m not very good at them and I always get hurt or just don’t feel like it. Other guys my age tease me and they call me a fat fag a pussy and a pig. I admit I’m over weight but I don’t even want to go outside anymore and ride my bike and that is the only thing I even liked doing because I could do it on my own. I love animals and I love reading and I love video games. I don’t have any brothers or sisters and I did have a best friend but she got a boyfriend and doesn’t talk to me anymore. My Mom and Dad ignore me. I feel like giving up. What would you do?
What the hell is a 13 year old doing reading this blog? Oh well, never mind. I love you. No. I really do. I love this letter and I love how I can feel your pain coming through it. Let me give you some real, in your face, Badass Auntie wisdom right now. Being a teenager fucking sucks. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but it even sucks for the popular kids with rich parents. They just have the tools to hide it better, but I promise you if you talk to them in 20 years, they’ll be able to tell you how shit they felt too.
So, I have some good news and bad news for you. Good news first. Even kids who are shit at sports can be cool. Probably cooler, because they are the ones who become musicians, artists and comedians. The truth is that you are probably really good at something, you just need to work out what it is. You are probably a really great person too if your best friend was a girl. Meh. She wasn’t such a great person to dump you, so you’re better off without her.
Embrace your inner cool. Stop worrying about what other kids say to you or about you. Fuck them and seriously, if they are noticing you enough to say that shit, then there is something rocking in your world and you don’t even realise it. You sound like you don’t even like them or want to be like them, so just ignore them. Do your own thing and do it well. That’s what will give you confidence and confident people are who the best people gravitate to.
The bad news is that if you do get really good at something and start to love doing it, you’ll have to put up with people wanting to be around you. Being popular isn’t as fun as it’s cracked up to be because, as you know already, there are a lot of arseholes in this world. Oh, the other bad news is that you’re going to have to make a bit of an effort.
I know it’s hard when you feel down and can’t be bothered, but if you love animals, why not volunteer to work with them somewhere. How about organising a fund raiser, riding your bike, to raise money for animals in need? It’s amazing how doing things for others can make you feel great about yourself.
I can tell you’re Badass though. You wrote to me and that’s the first step. If you start feeling this bad again, talk to an adult you can trust. It doesn’t have to be your parents. Maybe you have a teacher you like or a real badass auntie in your life. Cool adults can share their experiences with you and help you realise that things do get better. They can also help put you on the path to making that happen. When I was your age, it was cool adults who helped keep me sane and made me realise that I could make it through. I did. I found my Badassness and now look at me. I’m fat, 50, fabulous and undeniable Badass. If you ever need me, you can write to me any time.
Good luck wannabe. I know you’ll be fine.
Much love to all from your Badass Auntie