• Sandra Caganoff

Our bodies

Updated: Jun 14, 2021



I am turning sixty in a few weeks. I have put my body through a lot over the decades. My first diet was when I was14. I ate tomatoes for two days, pineapple for two and boiled eggs for two. I have no idea what the logic was with this diet and when I look back at that time, I don’t know why I did it.


Or why I was allowed to do it.


My body was just fine.

Clearly the pressure was already on, to be perfect.

I remember the grapefruit diet, followed by the cabbage soup diet, don’t try either of these ever, using belt massagers at the gym, before my wedding going to a place that literally jolted my body with electric shocks to lose tummy weight, starving myself, bingeing, starving, doing an eat-only-lettuce diet, I hate lettuce today, being fat, being thin, being fat again, trying to get my hands on diet pills, they were awful, finally going to weight watchers and learning how to eat better.

When I look back at my wedding pics, I had no stomach to jolt into disappearing. And if I had, would it have been so bad?

I also feel insanely ridiculous about the electric belt shock thing, like, what was I thinking. But I need to be kinder to myself. It was a long time ago.

It took years of stupid diets, bad body image and doing lots of work before learning how to eat semi-normally, for me to be happy with my body today. But I am super aware of it and critical of it. And I have to be honest, my weight still goes up and down. And I don’t like it when it goes up

When I watched the Friends reunion, fun watching it by the way, I could not help but be jealous of Rachel, Monica and Phoebe. They all look more beautiful than they did 20 years ago, and almost as youthful. But they have to work damn hard at looking that way, and they must spend small fortunes on personal trainers, creams, moisturisers, facials, surgeries and more.

They set standards that are impossible to meet if you are an ordinary woman. I am an ordinary woman. I don’t think they mean to do it, it's that Hollywood has set standards for them that are impossible to meet.

We learn, sometimes when it is too late, that we are okay the way we are.

I recently did a boudoir photo shoot. I did it thinking I am going to be sixty soon, it will be kind of sexy, sassy and cool to have boudoir pics. It definitely was!

But what I got out of it was far more than that.

I got that I have a sixty year old body. That it is kind of lovely if a whole lot imperfect. That I have flaws. And that I can look at my flaws and finally be okay with them.

It was my brilliant photographer who helped me. When we looked at the pics together, she highlighted one and said: “Wow, I love this one.”

I looked at it. Looked away. Looked again.

Look at all my ROLLS I said, half laughing, half horrified.

She was looking at the pic as a whole. She hadn’t even noticed the rolls.

You look beautiful, she told me. You have rolls. You’re nearly sixty. You have to have rolls.

And it is true.

We micro manage our bodies. We inspect every little bit of them. We do not look at them as a whole. And we never appreciate them in the different decades.

Mine is entering its 7th decade goddamit.


I am going to be gentler with it.


And love it while I have it.


It’s (mostly) beautiful.


**

Pic by Suzy Bernstein, Johannesburg.

suzykbernstein@gmail.com

Phone: 082 445 1952. www.suzybernstein.co.za

Instagram: suzybernstein_photography




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