Here’s my take on it: So many women suffer the tyranny of being expected to conform to a physical stereotype and experience profound self-loathing when they don’t.
I would love to be able to state that I have always accepted myself as I am and rejoiced in my body… but I haven’t… and I don’t. I think that it is almost impossible to repress negative responses when we are constantly being bombarded with images of how the “perfect” female body should look.
What I have decided, however, is that I’m bored and fed up with feeling bad about myself. What a waste of time! When I think of how many opportunities I missed when I was younger (parties, beach holidays, camping trips) because I was so very self-conscious about my weight, I could cry. Why didn’t I see that I had just as much right as anybody else to enjoy life and splash about in the sea and feel reckless and free and at peace with myself?
Being scouted in the street (many years ago now) and doing some plus-size modelling certainly helped with issues of self-esteem but even now at my age (when I can only dream of being a size 14!) I find myself, at times, crippled by such a dislike of myself that I avoid looking in the mirror. When it came to creating my heroine, Clarry Pennhaligan, in The Love Detective, it was essential to me that she was a real woman. A relatable one. Clarry is a generously proportioned size 14. She looks good, she’s healthy and she adores her food.
In fact, a question in the Reading Group Notes that accompany my novel is:
Clarry loves food and is confident in her body size and shape. What are your thoughts on Body Image Activism and Body Positivity?
I am very much looking forward to hearing how my readers answer this!
Clarry is fortunate in that she has a wonderful role model in her side-kick, Flan, who assists her in her investigations as a private detective. Flan is 70 years old, gloriously outspoken, very attractive (she has two men in love with her) and brimming with energy and charm. With Flan around, it’s impossible not to share her appetite for life. I want to be more like her… to let go and give myself permission to be exactly who I am.