Nothing like an afternoon on tumblr to make you feel old, fat and downright subpar. All those young girls in their teens; lithe limbs and long hair, perfectly bleached at the tips. All those years I spent wishing I looked like them, or could even come close to looking as good as they do.
All those years living off the bare minimum, interspersed with periods of binging, to be followed by nothing again. Diet pills, laxatives, teas, creams; plaintive missives on Livejournal about how “this is it, I’m done, this time it will be different”. Young girls – strangers – befriended on sites encouraging recovery, telling you that you’re beautiful. Twelve years, dear god.
I don’t know how many women there are my age trawling through these sites, remembering what it was like to be young enough to not give a damn, to never think beyond university, to never think what it was going to be like to get up every morning and haul ass to the bus stop down the street to work in a stinking, soul destroying office for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the rest of your working life. The next forty years. The next forty years, to be spent in a synthetic suit because you have too much debt to afford anything nicer, to work alongside lonely women in their late thirties who “made a choice”; who spend their nights in bars and their pay packets on eyelash extensions.
What I do know is this – your body changes, somewhere around 25 years of age, only to become an unpredictable, sweating, lumpy mass that you don’t recognise when you catch unfortunate glances in shop windows. It doesn’t matter how much salad you eat, how much cake you say “no” to, or how many miles you clock up on the treadmill alongside other sweaty, deluded, aging workers at the 6:00pm shift at the gym. Diet pills don’t work. 10% inclines don’t work. Starving yourself sure as hell doesn’t work. You look in the mirror, or at the numbers creeping up on the scales and think “holy shit. What I wouldn’t give to look like I did 5 years ago”. 5 years ago, when you thought you were fat. That whispered word, those pinched inches, those struggles into size 10’s when the stitches were fixing to burst with one mistimed crouch.
Those tumblr girls…I’d love to pick up the ones who worry or complain about the way they look and shake it out of them. Try waking up in the morning and choosing your mood for the day based on how “fat” you look. Try crying in the toilets at work as a 25 year old woman because some bitter colleague picks on you across the desk. Try wearing what you like and being told that you’re “past it”. Try watching grey hairs creep across your hairline, regretting that you never really enjoyed being young because you were too worried about not being perfect.