Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 18 September 2014

Body Image

I’ve been meaning to talk about body image on this blog for quite a while, but I’ve been unsure about how I’d do it.

I thought I might just stick a picture of myself up here in my undies and say, There you go! I look like this, and it’s all down to genetics. And you look the way you look for precisely the same reasons.

I discussed this approach with another woman, a rather beautiful woman, as it happens, and she advised me against doing it. So I haven’t.

It is the truth, though. There’s really bugger all any of us can do about our bodies. We can control our weight (although for many of us that's a big problem), but as for shape, height and proportions, we’re pretty well stuck with what our parents gave us. It’s all in the genes.

That is also true of the women we see all over the media, advertising everything from shampoo to knickers, to cars and dvd players, for crying out loud. That is also true for the bodies we see plastered all over everywhere that remind us 24/7 that we are sexual beings and we’d damned well better be attractive so that we can compete with everyone else who happens to share a gender with us and find a mate.

Well, I’m sorry, but it’s all just so much rot. Kate Moss’s body is a result of genetics just as much as yours or mine is, and just as much as Marilyn Monroe’s was. Cindy Crawford can put out as many fitness videos as she likes, but she can't tell me that if I do what she does I can look like her, because it's nonsense. I can’t change my height, or the fact that my limbs are disproportionately short, and I sure as hell can’t alter the passing of the years. Not for nothing, Ms Crawford's love life has had its ups and downs, as has Ms Moss's, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to replicate Ms Monroe’s sad string of love affairs.

Can we please stop putting ourselves through the agony of being forever concerned about our bodies and how they compare to other bodies? We’re not enriching our lives or our relationships with this stuff.

Experience tells me that it is rarely the most physically attractive person in the room that gets most of the attention, and certainly not the best kind of attention. The next opportunity you get, when you’re in a room with, say, more than a dozen people, just watch what happens. See who people are drawn to. You might just be surprised.
Talking of clever and funny:
The Husband, as painted by the dort,
one of the most attractive women I know.

Me? When it comes to men, I’m always attracted to clever and funny. I never care what they look like. If you lined up the men I’ve dated, you’d quickly see that, physically, they have very little in common and their age range spans three decades. If you lined up their IQ test results or their professional qualifications, or you listened to them talking you’d probably find they have all kinds of things in common.

We’re really talking about women though, aren’t we?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Here goes, girls. Are you ready for this?

Straight men like women!  

There... I’ve said it. It’s out there. Men like women, and, what’s more, they’re generous. Most men will find something to like, something to find attractive about almost any woman. They home in on the good things and ignore the flaws. I kid you not. If you’ve got pretty eyes, a nice smile or glossy hair, that’s what a man will see. He won’t see that your nose is a little crooked or that your legs are a little short or your breasts are on the small side. You’ve got BREASTS! for heaven’s sake.

Sit in that room with those dozen or so people and watch the woman who gets the good attention. She probably won’t be the prettiest woman in the room, but I can guarantee that she will be the most confident. I can guarantee that she will smile more than other women, that she will appear less self-conscious and more open, that she'll be enjoying herself more than anyone else.

The most attractive woman in the room won’t be the prettiest, she’ll be the one least concerned about the way she looks and most interested in the way other people think and feel, and how she thinks and feels in relation to them.

You’ll like her, and so would I.

I want to be that person, but then I honestly believe that we should all want to be more like that woman, including all you wonderful men.

There are better things to concentrate on in our lives than the perfect body, which probably isn’t identifiable, because these things are endlessly subjective, and which is utterly unattainable. One of those things is a keener awareness of others and how we relate to them. 

We all lack confidence, but we can all pretend we have an ounce or two more than we actually have. The effort of pretending might make us forget our wobbly thighs for just long enough to meet someone new and make a good impression. And if jumping that hurdle doesn’t give us a shot of real confidence, I don’t know what will.


  1. Oh Nik, I just can't be bothered. I'm tired. I'd like to have the confidence to go into a room and say, 'Sorry folks, I've had a really shitty day. Would you be a huge love, and get me a gin. And then you talk. I'll listen.' And soon we can all sit back, mellow, and watch that confident woman you are talking about.

    Love the painting. Why did that 'rather beautiful woman' advise you against taking your clothes off? I wonder...

    jenny x

    1. And that's how you demonstrate, Jenny, that you're the woman we're watching.

      She did tell me why, but it's all too political to relate, and, honestly, I struggled a bit to find it relatable.