This evening, after sunset cocktails and beach-side food in magical Phuket, I returned to my room to find an article on our website about why losing weight makes you feel better in bed. The title was so shocking, so close, to something I’ve been penning in my head for a few weeks, that I wondered for a brief moment whether I’d written it in the night and forgotten. My Co-Editor Rebecca Reid is always one step ahead; when we were younger, the girl talked about sex more openly and honestly way than any of my friends before, she was into spanking way pre-50 Shades, and she can predict dildo trends for 2015. Who else can claim as much?
Like all good business partners, she senses things before they’ve happened. When I read her piece on why losing weight made her happier, it clarified something that’d been on my mind for months. That I, too, have felt like an impostor – running around London, editing this beautiful, bold sex magazine for women, preaching messages of feminism, sexual liberation and positivity to ever PR and pal I meet, whilst secretly counting calories in Notes on my iPhone and wondering if my boyfriend would still fancy me at half a stone heavier. I wondered for a moment if she’d felt my insecurity radiating from Thailand, sitting in her room in East Finchley.
Because, truth is, for the first time in my life, I don’t feel sexy. I put on a bikini today and I remembered the line from from Miranda in SATC – “I can look at myself in the mirror naked after a shower for more than three minutes without crying, and that’s more than most women”.
I am skinny, by national averages – but I don’t feel like me. The combination of a job where food is always (I mean always) involved, 10-course tasting menus and fear of doing exercise in the cold, has made me gain a fair bit of weight over the last few months. Not enough weight for new jeans, but enough to make me feel just, well, a bit shit. My breasts are bigger, my sides softer, and my cheeks plumper. My Polish cleaner recently told me how I looked ‘fuller’ and I cried for an entire morning. But why?
I wonder if it’s change, more than anything, we’re scared of.
After recovering from disordered eating habits at university – where I’d retreat into Alpen in my bedroom for every meal for fear of my university hall dining room and treated ‘carb’ like a four-letter word – I vowed I would stop being strict with myself. I sought comfort, support and solice in my foodie best friend who slowly but surely convinced me that food was a pleasure, not the enemy, and I ended up running a damn sassy food magazine (she did a good job, hey?) but there are times when I slip.
Religiously weighing myself most nights, I freak at change. Suddenly it feels as if I’m watching every mouthful – food is once again the enemy, determined to make me feel rubbish in Topshop dressing rooms.
Add into the mix of a new boyfriend, pressure to look good when always meeting new people and one hefty Impostor Complex of running two businesses at the age of 24, and you’ve got a breeding ground for anxiety over food. In truth, it’s because it’s one of the few things we can control. I’m forever having to switch between being feminine, young and girly when meeting women to seem un-intimidating, and mature, responsible and sex-less when meeting men to seem serious – sometimes it feels like I’m trying to fit myself into a dress that’s forever changing its shape. Some nights I fall asleep counting on my fingers how many different people I’ve been that day – and food, and control of it, is one of the few constants we have.
Why am I telling you this, dear readers? Because if behind every great man is a great woman, behind every great publication is honesty. We vowed at About Time to always be honest with recommendations – where to eat, where to dance, where to spend your precious, precious time – and AFT we want exactly the same. We want you to believe us when we say you really don’t have to be skinny to have good sex, and you don’t have to be into bondage, experimentation or anal toys to have a good time in bed, but equally if losing weight makes you feel a bit better about yourself – that’s alright too.
Publications are wrong to promote fad diets, quick fixes and trends that only look good on rake-thin girls, but they are also wrong by silencing the conversation around how weight affects women in the bedroom. Whereas a guy will shrug off a stretch mark, a girl will obsess and cry over it. We have to love ourselves – and remember that change can, and does, happen. But equally, you can change for the better – too – if you really want to.
We all have moments when we don’t feel like sex goddesses. We all doubt ourselves, sometimes. While you’re holding in your stomach, we will hold your hand, until you feel better, OK?