I’ve had this T-shirt sitting around half-knit for the past two years. I hit pause because I wanted to do a draped neckline instead of the pin-tucks, but that required planning and research – I’ve never done a draped neck before – and I never had time for that; or at least, the time I did have, I was far more interested in spending on my own designs.
So I finally gave up on the idea of a fancy neckline (the pin-tucks are great anyway!) and picked it up again this week. (I’m very much ready for a mindless non-design project right now.) And I had to face some facts.
The waist shaping – which I’d already reduced significantly, because I have not so much waist these days – was a bit low and a bit tight. The hem was a bit short. Ok, so I’m expecting it to stretch out after washing and wearing, being pure bamboo. But even so. This was not going to end up a shirt I’d be comfortable wearing.
Ideally I’d reknit it a size or two bigger, and a bit longer, with the waist shaping an inch or two higher. But I don’t have enough yarn. So I’m going with just cutting the waist shaping out, and adding length, as well as bust darts. I’m trusting to the bamboo’s inevitable stretch… And to weight loss.
Clearly, this is the dodgy part. What makes me think I’ll get smaller? It hasn’t exactly been the trend. Ok, so I can identify reasons for my significant weight gain since having kids: lifestyle changes, bad habits around children needing to be fed all the damn time (and me hoovering up what they don’t eat), hormonal factors. I’ve eliminated the hormonal birth control, which meant I immediately stopped gaining weight. But actually losing it has not been happening. Not even a little bit.
Queen of oversharing I may be, but I have avoided talking about my weight online. For many reasons. Chief among them that (a) it’s boring and (b) I really, really don’t want to be part of the “food = sin, fat = evil” conversation. But you know: it’s a huge thing. Isn’t it?I want to accept myself at whatever size I am, but truthfully, I am not happy with my body. I am fat; not hugely, but definitely, and I’m not scared of that word. I don’t like how fat feels, though. Admittedly the kids love my squishy, wobbly body, so much fun to play with and to cuddle, and I very much enjoy them enjoying me. But I don’t like how I feel in my clothes, even when I’m lucky enough to find clothes that actually fit well. I don’t like where the fat sits on my particular body (tummy, mostly), I don’t like how my curves have shifted into matronliness, I don’t like being unable to wear my favourite clothes – and I’m very, very reluctant to buy new clothes to fit my current shape. I have of course bought some. But my body has shifted size and shape so often since pregnancy, I’ve learned to be a bit sceptical of its changes. And of course, being bigger than I’ve ever been when not pregnant, there’s a whole added level of resistance. I just don’t want to believe this is really my shape now.
But I have a lifetime of body issues behind me, and I know some stuff. I know that I’ll never magically lose weight without some solid effort. I know that exercise alone won’t do it, either. I know that diets will do it, but not for long. I know that I really, deeply, bitterly hate and resent diets in any form. I know that I can’t fool myself into thinking a diet isn’t a diet by calling it a “lifestyle change” or suchlike.
The logic is pretty clear, right? All the evidence points to this: I’m not going to lose weight. And yet I don’t believe it. I don’t accept it. Hey, if I got this way because of bad habits and hormones, and I’ve dropped the hormones, surely I can also drop the bad habits and turn this bus around?
Maybe I can. Maybe I can’t. I guess I’ll find out… slowly. I want to believe that it’s possible to continue to enjoy food, and enjoy my body, and slowly, sustainably, change my habits and my body. Ok, so I’ve spent 20 years trying to change the stories I tell myself about food and about me, and it hasn’t worked yet, but I’m an optimist. I’m heading into what I hope will be another significant life change – two kids in school; more time for myself, including exercise – and I think I’m ready to start looking after myself better. I hope I’ll finally feel like myself again, and surely that will help.
Meanwhile, I have this T-shirt to knit. Miles and miles of straight stocking stitch. Boring, or meditative, depending on my frame of mind. With all that work, I’d really like to think I have a chance of fitting it well in the end.
And that’s entirely the wrong way round, isn’t it? We make our own clothes partly for the sake of getting something that actually fits us better than whatever weird standard-size crap we find in the shop. I’m supposed to be able to knit something to fit me perfectly, exactly as I am, and through that to love my body better. But honestly: it’s not working.
Oh well. There’s a lot of T-shirt to knit – I ripped it back almost to the start. That gives me a whole lot of time to figure this out, right? One way or another.