This is my love letter to our bodies. To our incredible, complicated, beautiful bodies.
I don’t know about you, but I spend an inordinate amount of time wishing my body was a different shape. I focus on the bits I loathe and I never, ever think about the fact that my body is functioning day and night to keep me alive. That the acid in my stomach dissolving all the food I wish I hadn’t eaten, is strong enough to dissolve razor blades. That I use around 200 of my muscles just to take one step. That this little old body of mine, the one I stare at in the mirror with contempt and scrutiny, produces 300 billion new cells a day, just to repair and renew while I’m busy destroying.
I’ve just been to see Dawn French in her new stand up show, Thirty Million Minutes.
I’m a stand-up comedy aficionado. I’ve been to as many stand up gigs as you’ve been to… music gigs. Or libraries. Or whatever you’re into. Whatever it is you’ve done a lot of in your life, compare that to my stand up comedy history. Last night’s Dawn French gig at the Theatre Royal in Brighton was one of the best, I’m talking top three, I’ve ever seen. (Bo Burnham and Lee Mack can have the other spots on the podium.)
For starters, it wasn’t just jokes. It was an ode to her life, it made me cry with laughter and cry with poignancy.
But the reason I came away feeling really bloody lucky to be alive, is because Dawn beautifully and poetically celebrated her gorgeousness and made her audience feel gorgeous too.
My husband took that picture, I don’t mind telling you. Look at her. Look at Dawn French. Isn’t she just one of the most beautiful women in the world?
Society, and by society I mean women’s magazines and Hollywood films, spends way too much time gently bullying women into thinking that unless they look like this, they are not good enough:
That they are bad, ugly, disappointing females. Dawn is full of confidence, happiness, kindness, honesty and warmth. Those are far more beautiful qualities than a 23 inch waist, currently being paraded around California as the new necessity. Size 000, the new thing. An absolute travesty against intelligence and life beyond the mirror. Hey girls – don’t worry about getting a degree or being kind to animals or the planet. Just get your waist back to the size it was when you were seven years old. Then you’ll be a successful human.
I won’t say too much about the content of Dawn’s show. See it for yourself. Take your mum. I did – and by half time she was complaining that her laughter muscles ached. My auntie Kiki spent the entire show in (happy) tears. Like me, you might come away feeling like a new person. I don’t want to focus on my perceived faults and flaws anymore. I want to focus on building my personality. I’m still going to exercise, because exercise clears my mind and I like feeling strong. You never know, the world might turn to shit tomorrow and you might need to be strong enough to wrestle bears or something. (See a previous post about why I had laser eye surgery for similar theories.) But I’m going to stop moaning (to my husband, every day. Poor man) about my lumps and bumps. Life is quick. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or thin or lumpy or bumpy or grey or bald, as long as you are happy and kind and alive.
I’ve spent too much of my life thinking about this:
But all that really matters is this:
So thank you Dawn French. Thank you for helping me re-evaluate what is important. For making me walk through the streets of Brighton after your gig in a blissful daze of delight at all that is good in my world. For showing me that life is rich with wonder and chapters and experiences and hardships and love.
And for my new mug. With handy calculation at the top. I am 16,819,200 minutes old. And I’m not going to waste another minute.