Bend Me, Shape Me

One thing about Sex and the Single Girl is that it rapidly becomes apparent that it was written by the long-standing editor of Cosmopolitan. Helen is OBSESSED with the importance of being thin (she had a 23 inch waist at the time of writing the book) and is all about eating next-to-nothing and doing a shedload of exercise. Her argument is that if you feel fit and healthy, you’ll project an irresistible air of happiness and confidence (with a strong undercurrent of “boys don’t like fat girls”). She goes as far as to advise that a cup of cottage cheese and a tin of peaches is an ideal dinner.


That’s the weird thing about this book – it’s half feminist manifesto extolling the virtues of independence and sexual liberation, half reinforcement of superficial ideals and stereotypes. One minute she’s encouraging her readers to diversify their stock portfolios and the next she’s telling them to get plastic surgery (literally). It’s all a bit Cosmo - their whole “fun, fearless female” thing seems to consist almost entirely of recycled articles about elaborate sex tips (in which silk handkerchiefs feature far too prominently) and how to dress for your body shape (unless, of course, you’re fat, in which case according to them you’re screwed), all under the guise of female empowerment.

Don’t get me wrong – I still really love the book (though I do admittedly despite Cosmo) – it just has a couple of seriously outmoded moments.

Anyway, I’m not about to go around eating tinned fruit for dinner any time soon and I already do a shedload of exercise because of all the running but I figured it was about time I branched out in terms of my regime. So I tried yoga.

I walked into the class feeling extremely self-conscious about my choice of wardrobe (old soccer shorts when everyone else was wearing lovely Sweaty Betty yoga pants) and the state of my pedicure (hideously old and chipped). Since I had no idea what I was doing, I figured the best thing to do was to position myself next to someone who looked like an expert. A non-threatening-looking expert. So I plonked my mat down next to an excessively well-groomed gentleman wearing three-quarter-length trousers who had already wound himself into some sort of strange cobra-like position as his warm up stretch.

I spend the entire class looking at him askance and trying to copy his every move (which was tricky considering he was clearly far more bendy than me). Everyone in the class looked serene as they balanced on one leg and contorted into a swan-like position; I teetered around awkwardly whilst shaking like a shitting dog. The highlight was when I managed to get myself in a shoulder stand with my legs in the lotus position (a feat powered solely by stubborn pride rather than natural strength and flexibility). There we were, essentially stood on our heads, exchanging shifty glances at one another (his increasingly hostile, mine increasingly panicked as my back began seizing). By the end of it, I’m pretty sure the poor man felt violated.

It was good experience, though, and the next day I ached in places I’d never ached before. I think Helen would have approved of my efforts. She probably would have frowned upon the bag of M&Ms I consumed afterwards but I’m afraid she’d have to pry those bad boys from my cold, dead hands.

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