this is how it feels, actually

I just read a beautiful, perceptive, honest article about how it feels to write about your own life (New York Times, Dani Shapiro). Like Shapiro I’ve written 3 or 4 memoirs (in a way) I recognise the weird experience of readers thinking they know you… the emails asking personal questions… the loneliness… and the discombobulation of not knowing whether you’ve written/spoken about something before… a snippet from Shapiro:
“Those of us who have written multiple memoirs feel surprisingly alone… Shortly after the publication of my second memoir, I was startled to realize that I had become lonely. I had been speaking a great deal: in bookstores, behind podiums, on stages. I could weave articulate, compelling answers in discussion about my books. But when it came to my life — to that soft, pulsing, internal backbeat — people had stopped asking me questions, because they thought they already had the answers…
But there is a profound difference between what a writer does alone in her room — the honing, crafting, shaping, transcending of her own personal history in order to carve out a story that is ultimately a public performance — and the human need to quietly share in the most intimate possible way, to confess, to stutter out thoughts and feelings, to be heard and understood…”

Anorexia and the ‘beach body’ ban


The sloppy, casual use of the term ‘body-shaming’ is toxic and reductive. We are drifting into the perverse situation where attractive women are demonised for making other women feel bad. Wilful offence-taking, whereby portraying a person of slim physique is automatically offensive to those of a larger physique, simply doesn’t make sense. True acceptance means welcoming all shapes and sizes.

Instead of random censorship, let’s take control. Boycott the company’s products, refuse to buy magazines or watch programmes which objectify women, sign petitions, fight for gender equality. Even better, campaign for increased funding for mental illness. Let’s focus on what we can control, rather than issuing bizarre bans on certain bodies in selective public spaces.

I believe in self-acceptance and healthy body-image; I don’t want anyone to feel demeaned by ads on their daily commute. But throwing eating disorders into the debate about women’s bodies only confuses the misunderstanding around the most serious mental illnesses.

We don’t win when we demonise certain body shapes. We win when we call out the sexism prevalent in advertising and in our wider society. We win when we reclaim the right to be individual, healthy and unique as we are. Why not ignore the ads and redefine what ‘beach body ready’ means to you?

As a recovering anorexic, I disagree with banning ‘beach body’ ads

The Mayor said: “As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies. It is high time it came to an end.”