I knew I was edging towards the controversial when I mentioned waist size – I wasn’t actually referring to the way belts are more often worn now, at about pelvis level. I assume that a waist measurement still means the smallest part of the middle. And the fact is that a much larger size is the norm than it used to be.
For example, a while ago I read a quote from Fergie (the Duchess, not the Black Eyed Pea) saying that she’d worked hard to get a 29″ waist and she was proud of it. And only a week or two ago, I read that Victoria Beckham has an unhealthily tiny 24″ waist. But my own waist measures 28″ and is not small so that’s obviously nonsense as she is very thin indeed.
I’m not remarking on what a woman’s waist ‘should’ measure, or what is fat, thin or just right. This really isn’t my point at all, and being a quarter of the way into my intended weight loss, I may be quite pleased about myself right now, but I still wish I hadn’t spent my forties putting on two bloody stone that now need to be shed and which are responsible for the pain I now am in when I walk (though not for the arthritis, which simply happened, as stuff does).
No, what takes my attention, and the Chairwoman, my contemporary, feels the same, is the speed with which ‘normal’ body shapes have changed and that pundits seem to have forgotten that. That’s what’s odd, not what size or shape anyone is but that our shapes seem to have changed to fit the fashion. This is understandable, I suppose, in some respects because, whether or not we wore panty-girdles or whatever you wish to call them, we had waistbands. Not elasticated either. You had a firm band of cloth around your middle and you did hold your tummy in, so it constricted your waist. The girdle wouldn’t actually hold in the waist, because that was where it finished – if anything, it would leave a little roll of flesh above – it was tightening of the bottom and holding in the tum that was its purpose. But those of us in our teens and twenties 40 years ago didn’t want to wear the constricting underwear that our mothers did, but we still thought that having a waist and a fairly flat stomach were desirable.
There’s another thing – back when I was a girl, big busts were out. Or rather, they were not ‘in’. I was spot on there, and never had more than an A cup, but not many people did – A or B was the norm. Even 20 years ago, I often didn’t wear a bra in hot weather, and I am sure no one noticed (girls, don’t believe a word anyone says about breastfeeding making you sag, it isn’t true). But now, we want bigger breasts and, looking around, lots of us seem to have obliged. We can’t all have had enlargements? I haven’t, and I’ve been various sizes at different times in my life, but it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve burgeoned in that respect. There’s one of the girls, for example, at the hairdresser. She’s fit and sporty and works out regularly. I’ll guess her hips measure 34″. But she hasn’t a waist, she’s straight as a boy. Not in the chest area though, where she’s well endowed.
I said in yesterday’s comments that, as a teenager, I thought I was fat. Small bust, slim waist, where did I think I was going wrong? Ah, but everyone had those. I had hips. Just natural, curvy ones, but certainly hips. And I thought my legs were fat. They just weren’t thin. I’d have been too self-conscious to have my photo taken, but maybe if I had I’d have realised. Sad, isn’t it? Just as well that I now know it doesn’t really matter anyway…pity I didn’t then.