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Whose body is best?

17 Nov

I remember sitting on a friends bed doing “pinch and inch” to see who had any loose skin or fat lurking around our middle. I compared my 18/19 year old body (oh that’s right, we weren’t children!) to the others. How much more or less excess was there over the top of their jeans than there was over mine? So began my downfall.

My need to be superior to every other woman I met became a compuslion. Not intellectually superior or funnier or braver, smarter or more worldly. Just prettier and thinner. In my quest to become the worlds most valuable woman, I needed to be the most desriable and envied creature on the planet.

I started by modelling. I was scouted in London. It was the ultimate contest to be able to prove my physical worth and thus satisfy my need to be validated that I was, in fact the MOST gorgeous.

It was the truest actualisation of my internal judgment. A line of attractive women being openly scrutinised, usually by a man. I secretly loved the openess with which they tore us apart: “Too tall. Too chunky. Legs too short. Nose too big.” If you made the cut, you were clearly better than those who didn’t. These people who were happy to point out your worst bits and deepest insecurities actually approved of my body *internal fist pump*

It has taken me over a decade to understand that this wasn’t reasonable quest and why that logic is fucked. As I get older I try hard to distance myself from that thinking but the society I live in works really hard to keep me in this cycle of self comparison.

I have carried two babies to full term (ish) I made it through a really terrible pregnancy with my first daughter and glided through a second without any issues. My strong and capable body functions on 4 hours sleep a night on average. It runs the house, cooks the food, walks the dog, carries my children up climbing frames and down tricky steps. It has breastfed for a total of 3 years. It has achieved some bizarre and unexpected feats like catching a falling child by one leg before they hit the ground, it’s danced until sweaty and performed the baby Heimlich manoeuvre more often than my nerves should have been able to take.

However, I am constantly being asked by the media if I have “bounced back”. I am overwhelmed by the number of celebrities who HAVE, apparently returned to their original form post baby. Not their emotional or mental form, just physical. Women who manage to grow and birth an entirely new person or two and then fit back into a pair of miniscule hotpants, stilettos and a crop top are the dream. I am still comparing my body, fitting myself into the hierarchy of mum bodies and finding that I am left dissatisfied.

The term “bouncing back” and the importance the media and social media puts on it, suggests that the me I am now, is lesser than pre pregnancy me. The stretch marks and extra mass are ugly and make me inferior when actually they are the result of the most natural thing in the world. In my head the old me was a mega babe with legs for days who used to wear an age 11-12 dress at 24 years old. My child like physique with no tits or arse was preferable to the womanly one I now own.

I still think like that now. Less frequently and I see it for what it is but it still makes me sad.

I have two little girls who are totally oblivious to this internal struggle and I aim to keep it that way. Outwardly I am open, outspoken and wildly protective of my fellow woman. I look at the women around me and find them beautiful regardless of body size. I don’t care who they were, I care about their hopes and thoughts now. Their dreams and opinions and struggles are how I inform my feelings about them. I don’t see body size as an important feature yet that’s all I see when I look in the mirror sometimes.

I have an image in my head of the woman I aim to be. She is at a dinner party laughing with a glass of wine, she eats widely and adventurously. She is informed and interested in the world. She is above body worries, she is too wrapped up in living her best life to care what size her jeans are or who has the best legs.

Until then, I will fake it ’til I make it.

Try to remember that it is OK to not be the thinnest. Your qualities are more than physical, you are a bright and complex and interesting. You are different today to who you will be tomorrow and that person is no better because of the shape of their face or the width of their hips. There will always be days where I don’t believe my own advice but I will have a bloody good go at being the best me I can be today.

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Monday Motivation.

25 Sep

It’s Monday. I always find Monday to be the hardest day of the week, for all the usual reasons but it is also the day I am most horrible to myself. At the weekend I like to indulge myself; I eat a bit more, I drink and I relax because it’s the bloody weekend and after a week of mumming I need a break!

This also means that by Monday I am mildly hungover and bloated and the unkind side of my brain starts to chant “diet, diet, diet” very quietly at first but by tea time it’s hard to ignore and I cut the carbs and wave good bye to the snacks for another 5 days. This kind of binge and restriction works for some but for me it is the negativity and nastiness that drives it that makes me insecure and miserable. It is very reminiscent of my disordered eating habits that I have been trying to overcome. This morning it was especially noisy and angry because I haven’t been weighing myself so I have no idea how much I have or haven’t gained this weekend. I was dreading getting out of bed because I knew I would feel this way. I wasn’t feeling as positive or brave as I did last week so I was worried. Needless to say the words “disgusting” and “fat” and “greedy” started to pop up. I focused on my stomach and my thighs and face searching for the flaws and growth I was convinced I would find. 

The saddest thing about that feeling is that it negates all the really wonderful parts of my weekend. It ignores the lunch I had out with Stevie and the girls because I had beef short rib instead of a salad. It ignores the birthday party where our oldest was a much more confident and self possessed little person than she has ever been (the nursery affect I believe) because I ate a packet of crisps. It bulldozes over the pub garden in glorious sunshine with the most beautiful views and accidentally bumping into some of our closest friends because I drank beer which lead to more beer and fajitas at home. All these spectacular moments are minimised because I might have gained a pound.

Instead of letting that defeat me I decided to use it as motivation. I want to be that woman who laughs a bit too loud and drinks a bit too much and eats healthily and moves lots but loves a treat. I want to bask in the sun and dance and be silly. I want to appreciate my children and my family and friends and never let them hear me say “I can’t, I am being good this week” again. I want to live unapologetically.

I am still tearful, anxious and sleepless ar times but I am determined. So when the drum begins and the rhythmic hum of “diet, diet, diet” starts to gnaw away at me, I will remember that my life is better than that and I want to have my cake and eat it!

Body and Soul.

22 Sep

This is a bit off piste but my poor friends and husband have listened to my musings and worries so much that I need a new outlet. So I’m going to write it down and send it into the world.

To begin with I need to set the scene/give some background. I have weighed myself regularly for 15 years. Half of my life. I have gained and lost more that 4 stone on 3 separate occasions. I have been treated for eating issues; I have starved and purged and binged. I have used laxatives and run until I fractured my foot all in the pursuit of perfection. I have also had a LOT of therapy and taken and come off of medication for my anxiety and PTSD.

I joined slimming world after my youngest daughter was born and loved it. I lost 2 stone and felt great but only for a while. Recently all these obsessive and disordered thoughts began again. I stopped breastfeeding and my weight fluctuated and part of my brain started to slip in some familiar words. “Greedy” or “fat”, “let yourself go” popped up and I started to weigh myself more than once a day and feel my heart drop every time the scale didn’t say what I wanted. I started to feel overwhelmed and snappy and tearful. I began to berate and judge myself.

I made a big decision. As the mother of two girls, I want to be strong and confident and fearless. When I define myself by the number on the scale I am not those things. I am funny and brave and clever. I know lots of big words and I am loyal and sarcastic. I care deeply about everyone in my life and I am an amazing mother but when I gain a pound I forget all that and I am simply “fat”. The decision I made was to give up the scales. I decided I wasn’t strong enough yet to be comfortable no matter what the number was so I don’t want to know.

This idea seemed a very simple solution but it has proved to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. Below that weighing obsession is all the things that I have used my food restrictions to control. All the things that could be forgotten “if I was thinner” lurk beneath the surface and when you remove the cap that is dieting, they come pouring out like tar. Thick and dark and nasty it has all bubbled up.

I find it so hard sometimes and I feel like I have 2 sides to me. The rational and level headed feminist who believes all bodies are equal and the jealous, bitchy hater who crucifies anyone (mainly me) with an inch of unwanted body mass. I work hard to be kind but I am always on the verge of a secret panic because what if I have accidentally gone enormous and I don’t realise. If I can’t manage the impact of every single calorie then how will I stop the inevitable onslaught of obesity?

It isn’t all doom and gloom. Every now and then I have an hour or a day where I feel gorgeous. I feel like the clouds have parted and I get to taste that illusive nectar that is self confidence. It is the most wonderful and liberating feeling to know that you feel beautiful and worthy and ENOUGH regardless of what the scale or anybody else thinks. Imagine that sort of freedom.

That glimpse through the window into the other side makes the fight worthwhile. It makes the physical pain of anxiety easier to bare and the lovely things about me stand out in the mirror. It gives me strength to know that I am on the road and making progress. There is so far to go but that light in the dark is everything I need to keep going.

I want to raise two little girls who are ferocious and independent. Who view their bodies are a vessel to achieve great things not to fit a certain standard. I want them to be bigger and better than body shape and if I can help it I want them to NEVER know what that scale says because it really doesn’t matter. I want to raise healthy, active women who eat widely, listen to their bodies and never deprive themselves. Food should be a pleasure and an adventure not a cause of shame.

I want to be the role model my children deserve and I want to be the person I know I have the potential to be.

Expect to see me post a lot more about this in the coming weeks. I don’t mind if it’s read or not, it is my manifesto!

Pale Ale, Payne and Creepy Dads

14 Jul

After a hiatus for wedding season I am back to review some recent releases. We have already bickered today about my hatred of The Smiths (I KNOW I KNOW) and the reviewing process hasn’t even begun. I like to think a bit of underlying resentment in a relationship keeps things spicy, right? We had a couple of weeks of socialising (I put ‘partying’ and then realised that was a wild exaggeration) and enjoying ourselves in other parts of the country. Obviously that caused a massive shift in the family routine that meant that our children didn’t sleep for a fortnight. Being a parent is worse than being a Catholic in the penance dept. Have one nice Saturday night out where you drink and dance like you did pre kids and they wake up at 6am the next morning and are awake then, until Wednesday. But hey! Now I am seated firmly on the sofa with a can of really unpalatable IPA from a pretentious but fashionable micro brewery in Berlin and ready to rumble.

I wrote the notes for these reviews about a month ago so who knows if they are funny or not. I’ve been sort of hiding from them because I am pretty sure that the latter is the case but I hope that what the horrible IPA lacks in deliciousness it makes up for in strength and at least if I’m pissed I will find myself funny regardless of what anyone else thinks. Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a wild ride (probably not…)

 

Howie Payne: The Brightest Star

6/10

Another bloody ambush! Stevie LOVES Howie Payne, he quite often abandons us to go and watch him play in Liverpool (I say quite often, maybe twice?) Anyway, he likes Howie Payne more than he likes hanging out at home with his exhausted wife so how am I supposed to say anything negative without causing bad feeling?

I want to like it and I don’t dislike it. It just doesn’t thrill me, it is really nice and light and bobbles along with a friendly, train like rhythm. It is sunny and mellow and the opposite of everything I hold dear. I like sarcasm and irony and scepticism so as much as it is a very jovial and easy listening piece of music, it doesn’t push my buttons. The video gave me a mild headache and I can’t imagine what you do when this is played live. Do you stand with your hands in your pockets and grin or wave them madly, but slowly above your head like you are having a religious epiphany? I wish I knew. To be totally honest, on second listen, I liked it better. However, like a mediocre outfit or kissing someone you don’t really fancy, it didn’t do much for me.

 

Songhoy Blues: Bamako

8.5/10

I didn’t know any background to this band on first listen so my thoughts were originally based on first impressions. I am into it, it has a 1970’s cop show, theme tune vibe. It is fast paced and funky and made me jig about in my seat (upset the dog) Something about it grabs me, it is raw and cool in a way that a lot of western music isn’t these days. It reminds me of hot, sweaty nights and making music because there is nothing else to do.

After first listen I learnt that the band was formed to escape war and fight back against the jihadi regime that had control of Mali and banned music. I think that, quite often, some of the best art/music/literature is created when there is uncertainty and unrest in somebody’s life (Woodie Guthrie, Bowie, Ian Curtis) Conflict, whether it is emotional or physical, breeds a need to express and escape into something beyond a harsh reality. The main lyric of the song is ‘let’s go out’ it is a call to arms, a protest song. In a place where just leaving your house or listening to a band can get you arrested or killed, the most rebellious thing you can do is enjoy yourself and some of that unbridled release of passion and anger bleeds into the song and makes it so much more than just another record. I enjoyed it twice as much the second time around.

 

The Kills: Wait

9/10

I loved this from the start, it is reminiscent of Loretta Lynn. Quite a departure from the Kills stuff I have heard before. Unfortunately it has a bit of a creepy dad essence coming from Jamie Hince. Allison Mosshart looks like his cool, indie daughter who he has persuaded to let him sing on her new record because he once shared a joint with Wings and can play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the guitar nearly all the way through. I imagine he tries to fist bumps people and calls everyone ‘man’. He used to be/is (???) married to Kate Moss so maybe I am totally off the mark as she is supposedly cool…but I’m not.

The song itself is a joy, it is totally traditional and effortlessly rich and textured. Mosshart’s voice is a treat. It reminds me of the first time I heard ‘Youth and Young Manhood’ and it changed my life. In reality I was at a caravan park in Lowestoft with my mum and dad but in my head I was in the deep south discovering how it felt to have my heartbroken by a man with a beard. I am sold and will probably listen to it endlessly for a month and then never listen to it again as is my way. Luckily for the rest of my family I have zero musical autonomy in my house so I have to sneak into a corner and listen to anything I like on headphones before someone finds me and makes me listen to the ‘Trolls’ soundtrack or Brian Ferry. Send help, I am a musical prisoner.

 

Another week, another review. The horrible ale has been drunk and now I don’t care that it tasted like a gone off Lilt, I just wish there was more of it. A bit like this review. If you like it, share it. Follow on Instagram lauren.lawless  if you enjoy self indulgent pics of my children and things I have eaten- I know I do.

 

Blondie, Big Thief and Bad Reggae.

4 Jun

I am back, like a lingering smell the review has returned! Is it good. Is it bad? It’s hard to tell. Like a ripe Brie, some people love it and others are repulsed. Anyway, plenty of smell analogies there to be going on with so we will move on.

Last week and this week have all been music that Stevie has mixed opinions on which makes for an exciting (in the scheme of a stay at home mum, exciting) Mr and Mrs style competition. Will we like the same songs? Who will be offended first/the most? It is a risky Russian roulette of music reviews and marriage that could end in death or passive aggressive muttering and I am not sure which is worse. Next week is all music that he genuinely loves and as I have already stealthily acquired a chicken coop against his wishes, I may well find myself on the end of a particularly barbed comment about which way up I leave the spoons on the drying rack, if we don’t agree.

Hopefully this week I am safe and our family will remain intact…for now.

 

1. Blondie: Long Time

5/10

I LOVE Debbie Harry, she is and was so fit and cool. Those pins, that hair and the attitude! Sadly this is not reflected in the latest release (sorry to pull the rug). It starts with the promise of original, true to form Blondie. I was pretty excited and the video uses sunglasses as a clever way to disguise that anyone has aged since 1985, because God forbid celebrities should succumb to the ravages of time. Opening reminds me of that Christmas song ‘Christmas Rapping’ without the ‘clever’ pun. It is fun and lighthearted and then we trail off into a damp squib of a chorus- massive let down.

It’s not very edgy. It is mum-friendly, but not me mum-friendly, my mum mum-friendly. I saw a video of a load of middle aged women, dancing to a tribute band in their white cropped trousers and nice blouses the other day. They had been at a wine tasting and I thought how much they would love this song. They would be kicking off their mules and really letting loose to this one.

I was disappointed and maybe I expected too much as it is a good effort but ‘I can make everybody want to be your friend’ sounds like Debbie is singing to an over indulged toddler and I get enough of that in my day job.

 

2. Big Thief: Sharksmile

9/10

This is superb. It has so many delicious, guilty pleasure influences. It has hints of Journey and Dolly Parton with a splash of Lana Del Ray minus the excessive pouting and remains totally current and gloriously understated (deffo been watching too much Masterchef) Also reminds me a bit of early First Aid Kit which is a firm favourite in our house.

It is really hard to put your finger on why some songs speak to you in a way others don’t. At the risk of being cliche I can imagine listening to it on my way to a dive bar, with the roof down, late at night in America. It is all the angst and excitement that I imagine you get when you might meet you soul mate over a bottle of Corona (I am busking here). It is hard to picture anything more extravagant than that after several months of being in bed by 11 pm and driving an SUV crossover with the ‘Trolls’ soundtrack played on a loop for eternity but escapism is what makes any amazing song such a treat. We will be free again one day…right?

 

 

 

3. Wrongtom, The Ragga Twins: Woah.

4/10

Oh God, it is so not for me. I feel bad for even saying that because I get the feeling that in it’s field people probably really rate it. Unfortunately I don’t get it at all. It is repetitive and lacks any of the warmth or charm I associate with Reggae and Ska. It has a sexy, 80’s sax vibe going on in the background which jars with the pounding juggernaut that is the the melody. I sort of wonder when the appropriate time is to listen to this? Stevie likes to walk home to this which isn’t totally ridiculous.

Potentially it would be a really great tune to listen to when you have taken a load of speed and want to walk to Brighton to see a mate you knew 3 years ago. It would definitely keep you going for a while but even in that scenario, eventually you would begin to feel like you are being hit over the head and the crushing realisation that Brighton is 150 miles away and you never liked that lad anyway would set in. You’d be left just standing, listening to a really aggressive song that you don’t know any of the words to.

So, yeah, that.

 

 

 

 

If you like this then share it! I am beginning to find that I like writing the negative reviews a lot more than the positive ones which sort of sums me up as a person.

 

 

SO it begins…

26 May

This is a new endeavour so let me set the scene a little. Stevie, my husband, plays me songs on a regular basis, he is well into discovering new music. This usually happens when I am blindly scrolling through Instagram, feeling sorry for myself because I am not a 19 year old, Italian millionaire. He plays a song on the tele or whatever and then we get on with our lives; either worrying about our small, sleepless children or discussing the whereabouts of the box of nails which has been missing for several days now. The coat rack has fallen down and we have no way to reattach it, it is a complex and difficult issue.

It came about that I was moaning (an unlikely tale, I know!) about not writing enough at the moment and he suggested I write a review of 3 new songs from a variety of people he chooses. There is a formula and a set schedule which is gruelling and exhausting so I won’t go into it but all in all I am excited.

So here are my first three reviews. Bear in mind that I have no musical knowledge, I am just dead keen on the sound of my own voice/typing.

 

1. Snoop Dogg: Mt. Kushmore

8/10 (I drew a smiley face in my notes!)

I liked this. As a middle class, middle of the road, nearly middle aged, midlander I wonder if I am cool enough for Snoop. I feel like, potentially I am the opposite of everything he stands for but hey, is that not what life is all about?

It has a 90’s hip hop vibe, kind of retro and current at the same time. I spent a lot of time wondering if weed is still cool these days? It was cool when I was 16 when getting out of your tree on literally ANY substance made you the king. Weed was the holy grail because it was illegal but not actually scary enough to do you any physical harm. You could appear dangerous and gangster without being either of those things. Snoop is still pushing blunt culture and loving it, it would seem!

It makes me want to do really unattractive mum dancing. The kind of thing I see all the popular you-tubers doing but definitely couldn’t and shouldn’t pull off. It’s a dancer, anyway and to be honest, I wish I cared enough not to throw some embarrassing shapes. So does Stevie who gets to watch the videos I send him of my dancing when he is at work.

I didn’t appreciate “I slip my dick in yer daughter” but overall I’m a fan. Better than ‘What’s on yer plate’ from Cbeebies which is what I usually have stuck in my head. A welcome relief.

 

2. Kasabian: You’re In Love With a Psycho

6/10

 My initial thoughts are that Kasabian are a bit shit/smug. That is definitely my preconception. Originally I gave this 4/10 because I agreed with my original assumptions but actually, on subsequent listens, I was kind of into it. I mean, deffo a bit smug but the song itself sticks in your head and it is pretty light-hearted and entertaining. There are some big names in the video which makes me hate them a bit for trotting out their celeb mates to add gravitas to a song that doesn’t have or require any complexity. “You’re in love with a psycho and there is nothing you can do about it” ain’t winning an Ivor Novello anytime soon and no amount of Stephen Graham will change that.

I can’t remember any Kasabian songs to compare it to and I wondered if that is because they are a bit beige but then I found the milk on the bookcase the other day so this would suggest that it is more a case of my brain being slowly destroyed by 3 years of parenting on zero sleep or nearly 30 years of wine binges. Neither of which are Kasabian’s fault as far as I remember…

Stevie used to get mistaken for Serge from Kasabian so maybe that’s why he likes it but for me it was only alright. I sort of ran out of stuff to say about this one because my feelings are pretty mediocre about it all. It isn’t groundbreaking but I didn’t loathe it. High praise indeed!

 

3. Aldous Harding: Imagining My Man

9/10

I whole heartedly love this. She is exactly the sort of woman that Stevie would leave me for; dark, ethereal, strong-featured, bit weird, all his top qualities and she is musical. You would imagine that this would make me hate her, so it is testament to her talent that I adore it.

This song reminded me of all the female singers I liked circa 2006 when I had just got into Joni Mitchell and Martha Wainwright. I am totally into the amazing lilting voice and how effortless it seems. There is a lot of conflicting ideas and maybe that is why it is so hypnotic. The vulnerability coming from a woman who appears to be very strong, it is very feminine from someone who is quite androgynous. I put down my social media and pay attention when this song comes on which is impressive. Normally someone or something has to be on fire or the one year old has to be at least 4 steps up the slide ladder before I am roused from the brain sapping powers of celebrity Twitter spats.

1 point off because I have never been the sort of person to peak too soon, unless it involves a buffet.

 

There you have it, my thoughts on music that nobody asked for but everybody got. I have posted this before Stevie has seen any of it so I hope it doesn’t end in divorce or there won’t be one next week, which would be a shame.

Feel free to read and share and follow me on Instagram if you love pics of babies and food (who doesn’t? Monsters that’s who)

 

Angsty Mum! Firsts

25 Jul

I haven’t blogged in a while as I have been busy having babies. This has been particularly life changing as one would imagine. I’ve gained 4 and a half stone TWICE, I have slept less than I did when I partied constantly, I have eaten more pork pies than most people have eaten in a life time and I haven’t fitted into a pair of designer jeans in nearly 3 years. However, I am probably the most comfortable I have ever been. It is crazy to think that I used to go into meltdown when I gained a pound, if I had to leave the house in an outfit that made me feel fat or if I thought I looked too boring and now I will happily walk down the street with someone else’s sick on my back. I have complete responsibility over the life of two other people which is quite surprising when I am the sort of person who would wake up fully clothed under a radiator that was 4 feet from my bed. I couldn’t get myself to bed but now I am charged with getting two incredibly resistant, tiny women to stay asleep.

I don’t do this alone, I do it with the help of my long suffering husband. Once upon a time he used to have to lock me in and hide the key in a suitcase when I was drunk and unruly so I didn’t run off and now he has to talk me through why I am not a terrible person because I called the oldest child an idiot when she deliberately trod in dog poo (no one came out of that well)

This weekend was the first time I had properly drunk since I fell pregnant with our youngest. A whole 14 months of moderation/abstinence. I’d forgotten who drunk me was and my word she’s a drag (imagine patsy from Ab Fab but with more crying) We spent the day in the sun at a food festival and I hadn’t drunk as I was driving. Whether it was the heat or the simmering resentment of watching other people doing what Brits do best-getting carried away because the sun has been out for 2 minutes-I decided Prosecco when I got home was the answer. I also realised that I couldn’t turn up to the BBQ we were going to that night with an open bottle of wine so I’d have to buy another. Then I drank them both. I am definitely less terrified about being drunk when the kids are in bed. I’ve got over my fear that I might drop one down the stairs or out a window if they wake up in the night but I have not managed to over come the fear I get the next day that I may have in some way let them down by being a drunkard. Basically the more children I have, the more people I am creating to stand in judgement of me. I am pretty sure that my 4 month old doesn’t care that her mother is sweaty, anxious and bloated due to her hangover or that I spent a lot of time drunkenly describing why I hate Nigel Farage to people I barely know but you can never be too sure.