People Watching

I have mentioned that we spend a lot of time people watching and I know that lots of other people would list this as a hobby too! I find people fascinating. We like to guess what nationality people are, how old they are and what relation they are to each other. I love clothes so I enjoy looking at the fashions people sport. In fact, I think it’s the easiest way to tell English people from other Europeans. There are also people who choose very fashionable outfits for their children, I’ve noticed. For goodness sake, there is now fashion for dogs - with pooches sporting everything from a jaunty bandana to a full outfit. There’s a guy in Marina Rubicon market who sells complete outfits and even tutus for dogs!

Promenade in Puerto del Carmen

So what conclusions have I come to, with all my months of people watching. It’s this – pure and simple. Everyone has a belly. Only very thin people and Paula Radcliffe manage to get through life without developing a belly. I have always had a horror of bellies and hated mine. I rarely wear tight fitting things that show it off and I don’t think I ever did when I was younger and thinner. Men and women of all ages, sizes and builds all seem to end up with one. So is a belly inevitable then and why can’t I accept mine? What am I worrying about and where did this fascination and horror of the belly come from?

I blame my maths teacher when I was about 13. She was tall, like me, and wore two different colours of the same knitted dress every day of the year, even in the heat of summer. She was otherwise slim and not overweight but she had a real pot belly which was situated just under the belt of her dress. I didn’t like maths very much and obviously spent too much time assessing her tummy! I certainly don’t remember anything about equations or logarithms but I do remember her and her belly. Perhaps that’s where the seed was sown that I would carry around with me all my life.

I went on a holiday once to Tunisia when I was in my twenties and was horrified when a market stall-holder gave me a free lucky charm, as she said nodding to my pot belly, for ‘le bebe!’ Mortified that she thought I was pregnant, I decided that the belly must never see light of day again! I still suck in my paunch whenever a camera appears for fear of a photo showing my tummy sticking out! I rarely wear things that show it and remember the advantage support tights had when I was working as they held in a multitude of lumps and bumps. No wonder the woman who invented Spanx (magic knickers that hold everything in) is now one of the richest women in the world.

What I see in other people, as they go about their holidaying in Lanzarote, is that most people don’t care. They have accepted their belly and let it all hang out. I find men with big beer bellies fascinating as, from the back, they often manage to look OK until they turn round and the big belly nearly blocks out the sun! Women nearly always have bellies whether they’ve had children or not. I’ve read that nearly 40% of Brits are overweight, which is a serious issue but apparently half of all Germans are overweight. That’s a massive problem.

Babies have little bellies that we find adorable and so do young children. They are obviously natural and there for a reason so I don’t know why I am so horrified by them. As we get older, our bodies change and we nearly all develop some signs of ageing. Things that were once held up high, head south. We go from being toned to being saggy, although I can’t ever remember being toned! Nearly everyone seems to develop a belly so I will just have to give in gracefully, stop noticing them in others and learn to love mine.

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What not to wear in the sun

Marina Rubicón