Written by Meg Mansell
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, I have Covid19. As per usual my timing is impeccable. I’m at my in-law's house in Whanganui and I’m in isolation - darting between the spare room with a mattress on the floor and the front porch with a single deck chair which is where I am when I write this. The best part of getting Covid 19 at Christmas is my mother-in-law's food which is delivered to me via a tray, the worst part (by miles) is not being able to hold Daisy in hopes I don’t pass it on to her. But I can’t think about that for too long otherwise I start crying again, so I thought I would distract myself by writing about my hopes for you this Summer.
I hope this Summer, you are kind to yourself.
Being big myself, you might think I am only talking about people who are plus-size, but I'm not. Although I know first-hand that being bigger does mean that society as a whole has predetermined judgement against you and your body, I know that self-loathing happens at every size. I know that you will have your own internalised hate for one or more parts of your body. It doesn’t matter what the part is, or how you wish it was different - I don’t want it to stop you from enjoying yourself this season.
For lots of people, this means missing out on opportunities like going to the beach or river or some sort of public body of water to cool down in the Kiwi heat. For others, it means enduring the sun whilst wearing jeans or long sleeve tops and covering it up by saying that you don’t really ‘get hot’. It might mean you didn’t get a second serving of your Nan’s Christmas pav even though you know it might potentially be one of her last or it might mean not joining in on the family photos and instead always offering to take them.
But not this Summer.
This Summer my hope for you is to be free of it all. Even if you can only do it for a few weeks, a few days or the small step of just a few hours. Every time you feel that niggling in the back of your head and you find yourself slipping away from the present moment with a self-hate thought, I want you to say no. Firmly. Shake it out of your head, take a breath and force yourself to focus on what's happening in the moment. Can you hear cicadas? Feel the warmth of the sun on your upper arms, thighs and belly? Maybe you are by the beach and can hear waves crashing, or your kids laughing, or your Mum muttering away about how Dad is somehow on his 3rd nap of the day in the lazy boy chair. Allow yourself to let the thought go instead of honing in and focussing on it. It’s easier said than done, I’m no expert. But I have found the more you practise, the easier it gets to do.
You know that feeling when you look back on a photo from years ago that you remember hating, but when you look at it now you think “damn I looked great!” and have no idea what you were worried about? That’s you right now, that hot person in the photo doubting themselves while your future self is screaming at you to enjoy it while it lasts. We have no idea what changes the future will bring, Covid 19 sure taught us that lesson. So please, try to be out of your head and in the moment with family and friends (or even by yourself) - you won’t ever look back and regret getting in the photos, that second helping of pav or in the pool. But you will regret being a bystander in your own life.
Right, I need to shower and wave to my daughter through a window. Have a safe and happy holiday my friend, I’ll see you in the New Year.
Side note: If you find yourself in a moment that isn’t great to be present in (like your Aunty asking why you’re not married yet or your cousin bringing up his thoughts on vaccinations at the dinner table) feel free to sneak to the bathroom and send me funny Tik Toks. Lord knows I need the entertainment right now.