I have just returned from a few days in Spain and while there was reminded of a statistic I heard on a Woman’s Hour item a few weeks back. 60% of Spanish women are happy with the way they look, compared to just 3% of British women. As the item unfolded, asking how Brits could become more like their Spanish sisters, I found myself wondering why being unhappy with the way that you look is such a bad thing?
A general grumpiness with appearance is just another expression of the British predilection for complaint. To be clear, I’m not talking about complaining in a restaurant or a shop, the British are far too sheepish for that kind of thing, but rather a tendency to chat to friends and neighbours about what’s wrong in our world – the weather, the politicians, the latest failed diet or disastrous holiday, last night’s telly, the job, the commute, the kids, the missus. We are a nation of critics.
Do I have to be happy with everything about myself? Why can’t I dislike my emerging grey hairs and my post-baby body and my dark circles? Nobody’s perfect, but life is too short and I am too lazy for hair dye and stomach crunches and everyday make-up. Knowing that I could change things if I wanted to only compounds my misery. It’s not fate that makes me look the way I do, its slothfulness. It’s my own fault, fuck it, pour me another glass of red.
Why must I learn to be comfortable in my own body? Can’t I just bitch and spend a fortune on Spanx pants until I wake up in Jessica Biel’s? We are constantly bombarded by the media with the need for self-confidence, self-worth, self-love, self-reliance and I for one am tired of all this self-self-self. Maybe that 3% need to spend a little less time in front of the mirror.