Hot vs happy

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A few months ago, I annoyed one of my very skinny colleagues by saying "I'm happy fat" now where I was "unhappy thin" earlier.

"What can you possibly mean by that?" she asked me, not bothering to hide her astonishment. "All day long I hear fat women whine about how unhappy they are with their bodies! How can you say fat women are happier than thin women?"

Well, I didn't really. I was only speaking for myself.

Because you see, I've come to a weird realisation over the last year: since I've lost my self-loathing, my looks have really gone for a dive. It's a shame really… It seems I have to choose between being hot and being happy.

There's no more getting up at six to go to the gym. No sticking to two glasses of white wine a week. No cutting out starch. Or hearty stews. Or salad dressing. No more obsessing about being thin.

Which is not to say that I don't sometimes wish I was thinner. I mean, doesn't everybody? It's just that somehow, the self-loathing and body issues that I've carried with me for such a big part of my life has turned into that. A vague wishing.

The problem is though, if you're born into a body that can only look good when it's beaten into whimpering submission, you need that self-loathing to motivate you to do all of the above.

Because, God knows, vanity isn't enough.

And I'm not just talking about weight. I can remember a time when I used to blow dry my hair before a night out. And spend 20 minutes on my eye make-up. And try on 5 different outfits.

I don't do that anymore. I've – to use a term that I loathe – let myself go. Looking great doesn't mean as much as it used to. I don't feel inferior or stupid or shy if I meet someone in a supermarket and I'm wearing tracksuit bottoms and no mascara. I don't feel useless because my body mass index is on fair instead of elite. Sure, there are pros and cons to my new-found happiness and self-acceptance.

Pros:

  • It's much more fun to live in my head at the moment.
  • I've rediscovered the pleasures of a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich.
  • I'm meeting a lot of people who do not want to have sex with me.

    Cons:

  • Where I was once regarded as being witty, I'm now regarded as jolly.
  • I really miss my jeans.
  • I'm meeting a lot of people who do not want to have sex with me. (Ja, I'm still ambivalent about that one.)

    But I know I'm walking a fine line. Because a woman has a window period of maybe 3 to 7 years in which she can be "interesting" as opposed to "pleasing". If she doesn't shape up then, she becomes invisible.

    Which, on second thoughts, might not be so bad, you know?

    Do you feel that you have to be unhappy with yourself in order to look good? And which do you prefer?

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