Kick around on instagram for a while and you realise that there is an ‘right way’ to do things: pattern weights rather than pins, rotary cutters not scissors, mattress stitch for your knits (don’t even think about back stitching the very few seams that you have – that’s if you still knit your sweaters in pieces – and duh, why aren’t you knitting them top/down in the round…).
Sometimes it feels like your whole life is directed by a bunch of rules. Fashion and beauty can be fun and playful, but they can also be restrictive and tiring. Don’t wear jeans if you’re over 50, baggy clothes make you look fat, heels and low cut tops – are you kidding me! No make-up selfies were a big thing recently implying that make-up was a given and ‘normal’ women didn’t leave the house without a full face of slap.
You can’t be too thin or too fit, but don’t get all muscular, cos people hate that too. I don’t think I need to labour the horrors of fat-shaming that larger women have to face on a day to day basis.
Women are at the sharp end of so many cultural conventions: newspapers have headlines that suggest that anyone bottle-feeding or going out to work (or conversely indulgently staying at home with their baby on their breast) are somehow at fault. Their kids will suffer somewhere down the line. Allegedly.
I’m 56 this year and quite frankly I’ve had enough – I am fed up of dancing to someone else’s tune all the time. I’m going to keep as fit as I can but I don’t give a stuff about my ‘abs’, my kids (who were bottle fed, and saw me being a stay at home and working mum’) are all grown up and they’ve turned out fine. I am going to prioritise comfortable clothes (and I’ll make them myself) with flat shoes that I can walk in and forgo makeup for the 30th consecutive year.
I will use scissors and pins when I sew, back stitch my sweaters (which will almost certainly be raglan sleeved and knit in pieces). I will keep on doing the things that make me happy and that I’m happy to do. I dare you to do the same.
Things I’m knitting and sewing: I’ve finished a pair of socks, I’m still plugging away at Cranberry Gose (I took it to the Peak District with me last week and knit under the camper van awning as the sun beat down…. and I discovered that I’d stuffed up the instructions, but without any stress at all, reckoned I could call the resulting error a design feature)… I also started a shawl (Tales from the Isle of Purbeck) in a gorgeous wool. cashmere mix but sternly reminded myself that the Cranberry needed to be finished before I knitted another row of lace. I am meekly complying.