“Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” ~ Sophia Loren
So I’ve been reading some of the publicity around Robyn Lawley (above) becoming the first ‘plus size’ face of Ralph Lauren. Plus size of course meaning bigger than sample size, not necessarily big. This in turn got me to thinking about the many conversations about weight and dieting that I’ve had with friends lately. These, along with pretty much every ‘women’s’ magazine I’ve ever read, tend to suggest that a significant proportion of women believe that they would be a lot more attractive if only they could either; lose weight if they perceive themselves to be too large, or gain it if they feel that they are too skinny.
And it has inspired me to share a couple of observations with you.
Due to the medication I’ve had to take for my C-PTSD and depression, and a succession of physical health problems, I’ve fluctuated between a UK size 4 and UK size 16 on a semi-regular basis ever since I was sixteen. So I’ve been pretty much every size that the average western woman is ever likely to either be, or aspire to. I’ve changed my hair colour even more frequently, every six months on average, and can no longer remember what it would be if I let it grow naturally.
Which means that unless people have known me for a really long time they tend not recognise me in all the pictures I have around my flat.
Now I’m telling you all this because it occurred to me that there’s been no discernible difference in the number of people I’ve met who’ve happened to find me attractive at any point in the last fifteen years.
Well, unless you count lewd comments shouted in the street by the kinds of sleazy, random men whose attention no self-respecting person would ever court. Those peaked dramatically when I was a size 12 blonde wearing a C-cup bra.
But the number of acceptably civil people who’ve approached me to flirt, chat me up, ask me on dates, or attempt to sleep with me has remained basically constant for the last fifteen years. As has the number of people I actually know who have expressed similar kinds of interest in me.
Which would tend to suggest that neither size, nor hair colour, are necessarily crucial factors in determining how attractive a person is.
Nor has my varying size apparently made any difference to anyone’s enthusiasm on seeing me naked. Now I suppose you could argue that this could be accounted for by politeness. However, as the only thing most of the people I’ve slept with have in common is the fact they couldn’t lie convincingly to save their lives, I think this is unlikely.
I think it has far more to do with how the vast majority of people rather like having sex, and are usually pretty happy to be getting some. Also that a similar proportion of people don’t tend to bother putting in the effort in the first place to get to be able to sleep with someone they don’t find attractive.
Now I’m not suggesting that I’ve been equally content with what I’ve seen in the mirror however large or small I’ve looked. I feel that I look best when I look healthiest. And when I’m healthy I’m usually somewhere around a UK size 12.
At my recent birthday party we had a slide show of old photographs, and I’m happy to admit that I felt disappointed seeing how much better I looked a few years ago, before the depression and then the medication to treat the depression, caused me to pile weight on.
What I am saying is that my experience has taught me that, at least for women, our body shape makes far less difference to how attractive others find us, or otherwise perceive us, than we often assume to be the case. My changing appearance seems to have made no greater difference to how successful I have been at work, or how many people like to socialise with me than it has to the amount of people who’ve considered me attractive.
In fact the only notably memorable differences that my shape has made to my life have been when I was a size 4-8 and autumn came; then the cold would somehow get into my bones and stay there all winter. A terribly unpleasant experience that I could not recommend to anybody. And that as a size 14-16 it is much harder to find clothes that suit, or in some stores even fit, my body shape.
So while I would never try to discourage anybody from striving to become a healthier shape, or trying to adopt an appearance that makes them feel more comfortable in their own skin. I would urge women to try to feel more confident about the attractiveness of the body that they’re already in.
After all, if most people were really as unattractive as they think they are, the human race would be teetering on the brink of extinction by now.