I was reading Pasta Queen’s excellent "Ask A Loser" entry yesterday and one of her commenters posted a link to a blog called The Skinny Website, wherein an intellectual discussion was taking place about a photograph of Star Jones and her Hideous Arm Flab.
I have no idea who the bloody hell Star Jones is, but Wikipedia tells me she’s an American lass on the telly who was once rather large but lost 100lb. It doesn’t really matter who she is because this entry is about the arm flab, or rather people’s reaction to it.
A few choice (unedited) comments from the Skinny blog:
"ew she is sooooo fugly!! the hanging skin is really discusting"
"she is the example of why people shouldn’t get very fat in the first place (put down the cake star). you will never get your old body back without seriuos surgery, that flabby skin is just NASTY"
"Why on earth would she wear a dress like that with her arms flapping in breeze? Disgusting. What’s the point of losing all that weight… when she looks so gross with all the left-over, floppy skin?"
The purpose of the site is to discuss the rise and fall of celebrity weights, and that’s fine by me. It’s not something I want to be involved with, but it’s a big ol’ internet with plenty of room for everyone and all their niche interests. And it appears there’s many folks wanting to weigh in on burning issues such as, Does Victoria Beckham look skinnier this week, does Geri Halliwell have nice legs or not, and does Rhianna look nice in her new bikini?
No matter how gaunt or gigantic the celeb happens to be, some commenter will say she’s too fat, another will say she’s too skinny, or her hair is shite or her thighs are too big for her torso or she’s just plain fugly. You can’t please anyone.
What is my point here? I do have one, I swear. I was looking at the photo of Star Jones’ arm flab and all the horrified comments and cacked myself laughing.
"If that’s what they think of the Star Arms," I thought, "What would they think of mine?"
You may recall I spent a good few years being completely paranoid about my arms. In the early days I referred to them as giant pillows spewing out of my shoulder sockets. Then they were known as the Boeing 747 arms. Then I was hysterical when I could only find a sleeveless wedding dress in 2005 and even more hysterical when my giant arms were displayed to the nation in Grazia magazine.
But then last year I granted myself the Right to Bare Arms. Five years of weight training had bossed them into far better shape than I ever imagined possible. This year they’ve got even better. Actually to be honest, the real turning point was when I was standing in the change rooms at Zara in a sleeveless dress, whinging about my mega arms and my sister Rhiannon screamed at me, "Shauna. Get over your fucking arms!"
So I am at peace with them now, you see? I am actually proud of them, how they stayed faithfully by my side, adapting and changing despite those years of abuse.
But back to Star Jones. I realised that although I may be happy with my arms and all their imperfections, there are giant packs of bitches out there that would find them horrific. They would be hacking at them with knives. They would cross the road if they saw me sleeveless on the street.
It drove home to me, yet again, that you have to be your own cheer squad. You need to be your own biggest fan. You have to set your own standards and work hard to impress yourself. It is pointless comparing you and your body and your abilities to someone else’s. Someone is always going to be thinner/prettier/fitter. Someone is always going to look at you and think you’re hideous. It makes much more sense to compare yourself now to where you’ve been or where you want to go next.
If I’d seen that Star Jones Arm Flab pic three years ago I would have had the same first thought as I did yesterday, "If that’s what they think of the Star Arms, what would they think of mine?". But instead of laughing about it I would have seriously bawled my eyes out. And put on three jackets and Groucho glasses before I dared venture into public.
But these days I have finally reached a point where I honestly do not give a toss about what anyone thinks about my body except for me. I’m happy with how it looks and what it can do in all its dimpled imperfect glory. All the healthy eating and trips to the gym are for my own selfish enjoyment, not to make my body less unpleasant for the masses.
And if anyone started poking fun at my arms now, I would happily tell them to rack off… then flap my big arms and fly far, far away!