Blogging about Japan, food, parenthood, music and life!
I realise I’ve been away slightly longer than I said, but life has been full to the brim.
By that, I mean I went to Belgium for a long weekend, supporting my Hubby and his amazing band at the prestigious European Championships. And by ‘support’, I mean I walked around on the beach, ate Croque Monsieur and waffles, and drank too much at the after party and had to be guided back to my room by kindly members of the aforementioned band.
Never try to outdrink a Welsh band… especially if you’re a small Japanese woman.
Our method of travel, both there and back, involved several hours of coach journey, where I had time to sit and think about the last few months; about the peaks and troughs, and my general personal development – which includes a surprising turnaround in the way I view certain parts of my own body.
Now this might not seem particularly dignified or appropriate subject matter for a blog about Japan and parenting (although the longer I do this, the more I realise I don’t really know WHAT my blog is about…) BUT I need to talk about my backside.
I am NOT the ‘correct’ shape for a Japanese woman. Whenever I’m in Japan, I notice that the women seem, not just several kilos lighter than me, but also more delicately boned, with narrow hips and shoulders… and above all, with small bottoms. Now, I don’t know what happened to my genes, but I certainly can’t answer to the above description. Very likely, a western diet (and barbell squats) have encouraged growth in that particular area.
As a kid, I was thin and brown and bony – unremarkably shaped in every way. So it was quite the shock when at 10 years old, I suddenly developed (before the other girls) child-bearing hips and a 36B size bust. Not only did this result in my mother coercing me to wear her psychedelic tailor-made outfits from the swinging sixties because I was actually able to fit in them, but it caused my already sensitive personality to withdraw, turtle-like, into my shell.
My ballet career was destroyed in an instant – one week I was a moderately successful little dancer, with a good memory for steps and a natural ability to coordinate movement to music. The next week, I was crawling with embarrassment in the shiny pink leotard which cruelly emphasised the dramatically changing shape of my body. A body more suited to burlesque than ballet.
I suppose adolescence is an uncomfortable, painful experience for everyone. I just remember feeling discontented with the way I was turning out. Maybe this is common for people who are displaced from their natural countries of origin, but I constantly wished I looked different.
I didn’t like black, straight hair – it was boring. I didn’t want brown eyes – I wanted limpid, expressive blue eyes. I didn’t want to be short-limbed – I wanted legs up to my ears, and willowy graceful arms. And I certainly didn’t want, at 5 ft 2, to have a butt almost the same width as I was tall. It was the eighties – the narrow hipped, flat-bottomed look was in vogue.
Being unhappy with my appearance was a daily struggle. In fact, it was an odd, almost schizophrenic experience; on the one hand, I would look in the mirror and my first instinctual response would be satisfaction, but then a spiteful inner voice would draw attention to all the things that hopelessly prevented me from blending in with the crowd.
I did some ridiculous things, in my youth, to convince myself that I was like everyone else – things that ironically made me even more conspicuous.
For example, I’d ALWAYS dreamed of having curly hair, but Japanese hair is rarely naturally curly. When I was 16, earning some money of my own from teaching piano to a steady stream of littlies on a Wednesday evening, I finally had the funds and the freedom to book a slot at my local hairdressers. I was given a ghastly bubble perm that made me look like a labradoodle, for the princely sum of £40… and I LOVED it! Somehow, I convinced myself that I now looked like everyone else.
Anyway, I’m done with all that now. I have accepted that I only look like myself, and I’m more than fine with that.
Over the years, I have observed the whimsical and fickle nature of fashion. It was bemusing to find people started dyeing their hair black, and bemoaning their bad luck in having blond, curly hair; bemusing to discover that an appliance called ‘hair straighteners’ existed, because why would anyone want straight hair?? And most bemusing of all to find out that people actually WANTED bigger bums – that there were ‘butt building’ exercise routines, plastic surgery procedures for increasing butt size, and pioneering in Japan, special pants for sale with false buttocks to create a curvy silhouette under one's clothes. Ha! What?!
So, without any rhyme or reason, I find that the physical traits I once hated so much are now attributes?
It’s immaterial anyway. I have finally, finally (*weeps at how bloody long it’s taken) learned to take what I am, and make it work for me...
Hair straight and black? Undercut it. The darkness of my hair highlights the contrasts in the shaved patterns.
Limbs short? Lift weights. Deadlifts are a doddle – I’m already so close to the floor. Lol
Uncharacteristically large-ish bust for my nationality? Hm…. Actually, I’ve never met anyone who saw that as a problem.
Big ass? Forget ballet - learn to dance Kizomba – it’s definitely an asset to have a big bottom, as you’ll see from the video below.
My point? Life is too short to wish we were different. Embrace the individuality. Be proud of all the things that make you YOU. Make the decision to commit to loving yourself – because until you’ve done that, all your other relationships are just built on shifting sand.