Last night, I was looking at some old photos. Well, I say old, they were taken nearly six years ago. Back in August 2004, D and I had been together about four months. Things were going well, so well that we decided to take our first holiday together. We went to Barcelona. I can’t remember why we picked that particular destination now, and I don’t suppose it matters.
It was a lovely city – no doubt, it still is. We had a wonderful time. Over lunch one day we overheard a conversation where a woman was saying, with a sorrowful shake of her head, that “Holidays are stressful times for couples.” D caught my eye and we started to laugh. There was nothing stressful about our holiday. We walked for miles in the heat of a Spanish August, we ate tapas and drank bottles of cool beer in pavement cafes, everything was perfect. I think that holiday was the time I realised that I was in an actual, serious relationship. It was certainly the time when I decided that I wanted to live with this man (and indeed, we moved in together less than six months after returning from Spain, a mere ten months after first meeting).
The point is that the memories of this holiday are very precious to me. But looking at the photos I felt sad.
The girl in the pictures was so pretty. And she had a gorgeous figure – slim without being skinny, curves in the right places.
I am not that girl now. I am about three stone away from being that girl. At my biggest I was nearly six stone away from her. Six stone. That’s….a ridiculous amount of weight. That’s a small person. A small person that I was carrying around on my back.
I would never, ever want to subscribe to the view that an aesthetic of beauty is dependant on conforming to a certain weight or a certain size or a certain colour. But looking at the girl in the pictures, I remember that she felt beautiful. She knew she was never going to be a supermodel, but she didn’t care because she was young and she was happy and she was perfectly healthy and she had the kind of glow that you get when you are in love for the first time in your life. And, (and I realise this sentence damns me as a superficial cow, but this is my aesthetic of beauty) she was a size ten.
I haven’t felt beautiful for a long time. And that makes me sad. But I have stuck one of those Barcelona pictures up in the kitchen to remind me, on the days when it seems tedious to count points, on the days when my chocolate cravings feel all-consuming, that I want to be that girl again.