Friday, May 26, 2006

Boobs, Boobs everywhere!

Did anyone see the BBC programme "My Breasts and I" last night? It was excellent. There were a couple of dodgy moments when the presenter (Jenny Frost) got all shy about her breasts and explained that she happily poses (not topless) for lad mags but wouldn't expose her boobs for a documentary in case her family saw it. (?)

The segment on bare breasted women in New York was entertaining. A photographer was exploring people's responses to topless women going about their daily lives. He was trying to understand why some societies think its okay for men to wander around topless but not women. I often wonder this myself. I HATE seeing men walking along topless simply because I know that were I to do the same thing I would likely be arrested or worse. I digress. Just as I was starting to fume that all the women being snapped were perky breasted youngsters, out popped two of the largest bosoms ever, both pointing south and looking well used. I was thrilled to bits. I actually punched the air and shouted "YESSSSSSS!" We need to see those breasts. We need to know that those breasts are great.

My only experience so far with breast cancer was twenty five years ago when my lovely nana had a mastectomy. All I remember is not being able to cuddle her for months after the op. and I was always aware that she had a "funny" bra with an already filled cup to make her look "Normal". We did not discuss anything about how she felt about her body. I later found out that my Grandad had held her after her operation, looked at her scar and told her she was beautiful. Knowing this has coloured my opinion of mastectomy and reconstruction.

There was a very moving segment on breast cancer survivors and the effects of mastectomy and subsequent reconstruction. In my ignorance I had never even considered what happens if you want nipples that are a darker colour than the reconstructed breast (you can have a kind of tattoo effect). I had never thought about how they make the new breast or what other options there are if reconstructive surgery is not for you. One woman showed a stick on breast-shaped prosthesis that looked like it would seriously irritate the tender skin to which it was attached.

I wish the programme had included women who choose not to have reconstruction and do not wear prosthetics. I wish it was okay for women to lose their breasts to cancer and not feel ashamed of their changed bodies. I know now that some women feel unbalanced without two breasts, something I had never considered before, and I understand that this is a reason for prosthesis. I still think we need to see breast cancer and its effects; we need to see women living with mastectomy and loving their bodies. I'm questioning as I write...would I think this way about prosthetic limbs? If not, why not? I am not ashamed to say that I held my own breasts while I watched.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My stop smoking experience. (as if you wanted to know)

I just read Bitchphd's post about smoking and it prompted me to dig out my stop smoking pep talk, I wrote it for a consumer website ages ago but it could stand an airing...Well it would have helped me to know more about other people's experiences when I was giving up so here goes: (smokers don't take it personally!)

I smoked for fifteen years, 30 a day, through pregnancy, in the rain, on the beach, in the bath, on the loo, full of a cold, during a bout of bronchitis, you name it. I was utterly determined to have my daily allowance. I spent an absolute fucking fortune (I liked the more expensive cigs, you know, the American ones that begin with an M and cost about 5 quid a pack in the UK), not just on fags, I bought loads of perfume and body lotion and mints etc. all in an attempt to hide the smell of smoke. What a waste. But my cigs were so gooooood. Who can resist that feeling of absolute pleasure when you light up after a long, enforced break? It IS good. But it's all an illusion and most of us know that. It only feels so good because we are addicted.

So, after fifteen years of "enjoying" smoking I gave up. What follows is the why, and more importantly the how.

I decided to stop because I couldn't afford to smoke and have a new kitchen. How shallow and sad is that!? There was no moment of crisis in my health, no moment of realization, no epiphany. I just worked out that my home loan payments were about the same as I was spending on cigs and if I didn't stop I would forever be living in squalor. Simple..he he he. It Soooo was not.

I didn't do any of the things you are supposed to do beforehand. I didn't pick a quit date, I didn't get rid of my smoking paraphernalia and I didn't seek advice from a quit group (been there, done that and failed too many times) I just got up, had whatever fags were left in my packet and then resolved not to have any for the next hour or two.

I felt (and still do) that planning the whole quit date shebang would be too depressing, I would worry more as the big day approached and then feel so spineless and pathetic if I slipped up. It’s so much better to catch yourself off guard, take your fags by surprise and jump in at the deep end. Just do it on the spur of the moment because you then have less emotion invested in the venture. We have all tried and failed and tried again and despaired and hated ourselves and smoked defiantly and wheezed and coughed and started the whole cycle again. It is really bleeding depressing.

I say bollocks to the National Health Service approach and just try it this way. Get some gum, not patches because the faffy bit of smoking where you find the pack in your bag/pocket and take out the fag and light up is important to smokers. We like to have something to do. So now you have a blister pack of fruity gum-(Nicotinell is best, trust me) to fiddle with and the whole process of putting the gum in and remembering to chew and park is just enough of a distraction. Wearing a patch is just too passive for me; I want to have to work for my nicotine!

So I made it through my first two hours and felt quite confident enough to do another couple and before I knew it, it was bed time.! Wahay! A whole eight hours fag free and not as bad as I thought. It was bad, I won't lie to you but it was do-able. I didn't die. I didn't even get too upset and wasn't that nasty with my family. Most importantly I didn't set myself any goal that felt too big. I always kept in my mind that I was trying to avoid smoking "today". With each successful day your confidence grows. I have done over 1000 days now. I don't REALLY count them anymore; I just sat here and worked that number out. And I really don't miss smoking at all. In fact I hate it. I regret all those lost years and all that lost money. I regret being a bit smelly. I regret not being able to sit in the library and do any work because I had to get up and go out for a fag every 20 minutes and I curse the days that I smoked around my daughter and sent her to school smelling like an ashtray.

What you can expect when you give up:

Cravings!!! The gum helps but it takes a bit longer than a ciggie to work. You need to be calm and tell yourself to hang on a minute and if it is ABSOLUTELY intolerable you can have a cig. It won't ever get that bad.

You will miss smoking. It feels a little bit like bereavement. You cigs have been with you through thick and thin. They love you and help you out when you need it. When they are gone you feel quite sad about it for a while. Just remember that all the time you thought they were being nice to you, they were actually slagging you off behind your back.

You might sleep badly for a few days. Just have a horlicks and a nice warm bath and remind yourself that when you wake up you won't have toilet breath! It passes.

Now we get to the positives:

You will smell great!

Your fingers will turn a normal colour again. No more yellowy orangey stains. And the same goes for your teeth, eventually,

You feel fitter and can breathe easier. This is such a big and unexpected bonus! You never really think you have problems when you smoke. You only know you did when you stop.

You won't be a social pariah. You will sit through a flight and not be nasty and cranky, you will be able to go to the pictures and enjoy a film.

You will feel so unbelievably, utterly, fabulously proud of your incredible achievement that you will wake up every day feeling smug and satisfied and nothing beats that! Giving up is difficult, if you can do it then you deserve unlimited praise!

So that's that. Long winded but I hope helpful and not preachy. Please try giving up. You are so worth it.

Feminist Standpoint Theory Anyone?

I have to understand it pretty quickly. I am not current on this particular theory and all I know is that it may encompass various theoretical feminisms. Googling seems to throw up too much random crap so if anyone can point me towards a readable potted version I would be really grateful.

I slept very badly last night and today I have a headache...I feel decrepit!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Is YOUR wife fat?

I got a free copy of the Sunday Times yesterday. (I fed my neighbour's cats and was told to take any papers that came and keep them for myself. Just so you know I didn't steal it) It has so many sections that it is almost laughable, but the one I really enjoyed was the "Style" supplement. Because I'm just so stylish.

Nestled in amongst the advice about spotty teens, adverts for £500 lampshades and £210 Yoga bags, expensive clothing suggestions and miracle face cream hype was this nugget by James Delingpole :

Can You Tell Your Wife She's Fat?

Well can you? Turns out, you can. If you can no longer pretend that you still fancy her you can be direct and tell it like it is. Or you can tell her best mate and get her to tell your wife. Or you can sneak in a weekend at a health farm and pretend YOU want to slim down. Or you can take your wife to a fabulously expensive clothes shop that only does tiny sizes and let her work it out for herself. (This one carries a risk: your wife may lose the weight and then you will have to actually buy the expensive clothes.)

Here's the killer quote from the whole piece: "When we start going out with a woman, we do so in the expectation that she is going to remain more or less the same as she was when we bought into the package." Well.

You know when you just can't start expressing what you feel because you don't really know where to start and you might not be able to stop and your head might explode and they won't get it anyway and life's too complicated already so why bother.....That's how I feel about this. I KNOW it's meant to be tongue in cheek. I KNOW I'm supposed to have a sense of humour about these types of articles. But I just can't find it funny. I find it sickening. I leave it to you to take the piece apart, please make me feel better!