Yesterday we received an email from Catherine Deveny. It was a photo of her in bathers. She was miffed. WHEN, she asked, are women going to stop worrying? She’d read this post on Mamamia and she wanted to stage a coup on dissatisfaction. We asked her a few questions.
Q: You’re sick of the constant portrayal as skinny as the ‘only’ desirable body type. You wanted to say something about female bodies?
A: There will always be men who love big, voluptuous, buxom, ba-boom ba-boom women. They always have and always will and they will NEVER go out of fashion despite what media would have the gullible believe.
Any suggestion otherwise is people manipulating the world to make women feel NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I was watching the ARIAs the other night and every single one of the women looked exactly the same. Skinny, manicured, fake tan, fake teeth, fake tits. Same, same, same, same, same with the exception of Clare Bowditch. She was stunning, glowing and gorgeous.
I was in a supermarket once and I saw this skinny, withered old woman, maybe 75, flicking through at a magazine called Slimmers or something and I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and say “When are you going to stop worrying? You are good enough.”
If women look at any of the stats or any of the scientific research about sexual attraction, men will always find the slightly overweight woman more attractive than the slightly underweight woman.
Q: So bigger can also be sexy then.
A: It’s not all about sexual attraction. It’s about health and confidence and enjoyment of life! I was perved at by two women the other day. I went into Babka’s the other day and a woman I sort of knew came up and said hello. Then another woman I sort of knew joined us. The both admitted they were checking out my ‘awesome curves’ and then realised it was me.
Even today I have ridden 20km, ran 6km and had a shag before I got up and I’m looking forward to having a Mars Bar mud cake for dessert tonight.
It’s only about health to me. Women today never heard anything positive said by other women about their bodies when they were growing up. And even now that’s the case, it’s just constant negativity. This mantra of NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Q: Do you think women feel they constantly need to apologise for the way they look?
A: Well I am not apologetic. I LOVE and constantly flaunt my 80 kilo size 16 bod. Tight dresses, short skirts and tits out on a daily basis. I love my 80kilo size 16 bod! I run, cycle, swim, strip off and shag whenever I have the opportunity.
Q: You’re not a fan of bullshit. Where does all this body image ‘bullshit’ come from?
A: I don’t have any daughters to encourage a healthy body image with and the only thing you can do really is set a good example. But I see little girls all the time, constantly told they are ‘pretty’ or ‘isn’t she beautiful’ or alternatively a ‘big girl’ or ‘not much to look at.’ But never the boys. I have sons and their looks are rarely mentioned. Yet it’s all I hear about girls. Let me make one thing really clear. Never ever, ever, ever, ever comment on a little girl’s looks. Tell her anything else. Tell her that she is resilient, that she has a good brain, that she has a strong sense of social justice, she’s strong, brave, a good tryer, has great business skills, fantastic critical thinking but NEVER comment on her looks.
You are not good enough. That’s the only message girls get from the media.
Here’s the message little girls need. It doesn’t matter what people think about how you look. It only matters how you feel about yourself.
Q: But have you felt just as happy when you were thinner?
A: Twice in my life I have lost a lot of weight. When I suffered depression and when I had cancer. I looked sick, like a cadaver. Yet strangers would tell me how amazing I looked when I was at my most unwell.
You are never going to know the happiest we are to your eye. You are never going to know the best we are to your eye. It is not about that. It is about being healthy.
I see people look back on photos of themselves and say “Look how skinny I was and to think I thought I was fat.”
Guess what people, that might be today. How you look today you may look back on and wish you hadn’t spent all that time worrying because another you, an older, fatter, skinnier, more secure you may think the way you look today is perfect.
Q: Right, let’s talk advertising and media then. What’s up with the fetishism around women’s bodies?
A: Advertising and media industries sell dissatisfaction. They need to say ‘you are not good enough’ in order to make you buy stuff. They have a vested interest in making sure this happens. It is disease-mongering. That’s what it is.
Choose love. Choose satisfaction. Choose you. You are gorgeous. Someone out there would KILL to look like you.
Q: Having said all of this, does this make the case of Ricki-Lee’s weight loss a tragedy of pressure? Or is she just doing what she wants?
A; Look I’m not a fan. But I’m not not a fan. I think she’s a gutsy girl and I liked the look of her. From what I’ve read in magazines in doctor’s surgery waiting rooms she hasn’t had it easy and pulled through. Then I saw the photos of her after she lost all that weight and she looks unrecognisable … but she looked just like everyone else. I’m glad she’s happy, if she is, but I just wish it was a different kind of happy for her. We liked her so much because she was NOT like them but had the confidence to be herself not to subscribe to some unattainable, cookie cutter image dreamed up by people who want women to hate themselves and each other. Never thin, blonde or tanned enough. Hungry, grumpy and worried. No thanks.
Just. Say. No.
Me? I like my body to be like a statue. Like architecture. Majestic, recognisable, sturdy and healthy. I have never wanted a cookie-cutter body.
Women who are trying to live up to the warped media construction of ‘perfect’ cooked up solely to breed and fertilize dissatisfaction in order to sell stuff are hungry, cranky and worried all the time. There are millions of different shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful. There is no one perfect size. Let’s celebrate that.
Q; And the people who called Lara Bingle fat?
A: The whole Lara Bingle thing, I saw this happy, healthy bird on this poster and something like ‘Lara upset by fat taunts’ and I thought ‘who are these people and why are they calling her fat’? What’s in it for them? They should be stripped down and photographed.
Q: So, what’s the message then? What does it all come down to for you?
A: I find it sad bordering on offensive women who are size 10 or 12 saying they are fat. Why do you by this dissatisfaction?
I don’t want women to feel like they are trapped in a body they don’t want. And that goes both ways. If you want to be less hungry and grumpier get curvier, eat a little more and exercise less, if you want to be thinner than what you are now, do the opposite. If you are not happy, change. And don’t blame anyone else for it. Own your body. That goes for addiction too. Own what you put into it and what you want it to be. Do you want it to wobble? Do you want it to be hungry? Your choice.
Sometimes I think “There are people out there and if they had my body they’d think they were too fat and others who would be rapt and think they were skinny. It’s all a matter of perspective.” I LOVE that new campaign ‘healthy is the new skinny.” I was so sad to hear the number one thing women and girls want is to lose weight.
Have a pie, go for a walk and look around at the world. You are good enough. And there are plenty of more interesting, fun, valuable and life affirming things you can be doing than being a slave to dissatisfaction.
There have been people who have been very vocal about my body confidence. Basically saying I didn’t have the right to feel as confident with my body as I am. Not playing the game is very threatening for people. I don’t lie down in the chalk outline drawn for me.
Women with body shapes like mine are rarely seen in the media, but when they are people make a big fizz (Adele, Kate Cebrano, Mad Men’s, Christina Hendricks, Marilyn Monroe). I’ll let you in on a secret, we’re never hungry and we never short of lovers.
Just to illustrate how times have changed, attitudes about what society says is ‘sexy’ have done a complete reversal as these old weight-gain advertisements show:
What do you LOVE about your body? Are you willing to show it off? Catherine’s asking readers to send in a photo – in your bathers if you want – to show the world. Ready to take the dare?
Catherine Deveny is a writer, comedian and social commentator. Her novel The Happiness Show will be published in 2012 by Black Inc Books. The photo of Catherine was taken by photographer Carla Gottgens and she is wearing Esther Williams bathers, which you can find here.