I look like a slug. My scales tell me that I weigh as much as I did at the height of my first pregnancy. But I am not pregnant, I am merely fat and old.
The worst part is my neck. There’s a middle-aged thickness to it, like a bullock fattened for slaughter. I no longer feel comfortable wearing my hair up in public because it reveals this now awful part of my anatomy.
I have, as I suspected, actually gained weight since Christmas. However, I’ve been off work, my regular job, for two weeks and have probably lost a little in that time. This is what happens when I have enough time off: I look after myself, heal myself, rest and garden. But right now, I am still in the upper range of being “overweight” and have many pounds to lose. Any fatter and I would spill over into obesity.
At home I have already begun to cut back: I eat a maximum of two slices of bread per day, I never buy crap, I’ve stopped baking at home and eat fruit to quell the sweet cravings. I drink lots more liquids, but otherwise I eat normally. I’ve been more active in the garden, but I really don’t have the time or the energy for a dedicated exercise regime.
I notice how little interest I have for personal care when I feel so very unattractive. Living in my work trousers, hardly showering, recycling socks, no make-up. I don’t mind so much. I feel butch, like a man. A man in a manual job who stinks come the end of the week, rolling into the shower on a Friday to smell sweet for the weekend. I don’t even wear a bra at home. I let my enormous breasts flap down and sweat onto my belly as I chop wood.
Bras, I have discovered, are not a good idea in the garden. The straps hang down, causing bursitis in the shoulders and sports bras give me terrible back pain. So I have given up wearing a bra altogether.
Not giving a fuck about one’s appearance is rather liberating, I find. I love being a slob, wearing loose-fitting tent-wear, selected chiefly for survival purposes. And I love working outside in the March sunshine, the rays penetrating my unprotected skin like a naughty fuck in early spring. I can feel the happiness rising with the vitamin D, just as the wrinkles deepen, ever furrowing my face.
What I do look after at this time of year are my hands and my teeth. Winter is long here and my hands split in the cold, leaving open sores. I smear them with a thick layer of shea butter before I go out into the garden. I always wear gloves to protect my hands. I clean my teeth religiously: two, sometimes three times a day using fluoride toothpaste. I’ve noticed that my gums bleed when I am exhausted, inflammation perhaps, so I swill with chlorhexidine mouthwash when I see blood.
Otherwise I shower about twice a week, which is kind on my dry skin. I use real bar soap and moisturise with coconut oil. I cut my own hair and clip my nails short. I piss into a beautiful antique chamber pot that I bought from a gypsy. I do this to fertilise the garden, of course, but observing one’s own piss at close range also tells me how hydrated I am. I drink two glasses of wine or three beers each night. Probably not the best of habits (my urine tells me so), but it sure does ease the aches and pains.
What is beauty? If there’s one thing I can say for sure, it’s that beauty is temporary. Freedom, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be. Be free this International Women’s Day, garden and leave beauty to the March sunshine.
Rebecca Smith is a writer, poet and gardener working and living on the west coast of Norway. Visit her blog here: www.wordsoftheair.wordpress.com. Visit her project Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/seversgarden/ She is an active member of the Norwegian Permaculture Association http://www.permakultur.no/ and Norwegian Seed Savers http://www.norwegianseedsavers.no/
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