09.19.07

conferencing

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:44 pm by rachel

Well, it’s started; or to be more accurate, one down, two to go. Although the Lib Dem conference is a gentle start to three weeks of networking, smiling, networking, hanging around, small talk with ones colleagues, cheap white wine, networking and curly sandwiches… well, I’m exhausted. And completely lacking in enthusiasm for further such jollities. The idea of going to Bournemouth, let alone Blackpool, is turning my stomach.

Not much to report either. Nick Clegg, the pundit’s pick for that unenviable job – leader of the Lib Dems – is an impressive speaker, and someone who is going out of his way to appear erudite, young and dynamic; although he is competing with a man who would only be able to claim the same qualities in the presence of Gladstone. Ageism, no doubt, but Ming seems past it compared with young, or even middle-aged, Turks like Clegg, Huhne, Laws. I don’t think the feeling that a leader should inspire is pity.

The Lib Dem exhibition is a sea of yellow, stalls which mark out the various clubs and societies you can join along with the party. So you have the Lib Dem friends of Israel, which was nicely positioned in the Exhibition Hall directly opposite the Lib Dem Palestine Society. The Christians and Atheists were also in close proximity. Amusant. Anyway, they are from a tradition which allows dissent, so it should be grand.

I attended a girl guiding uk fringe which looked at how young women esteem themselves. Well, I should say girls really, as the research was about 7-10 year olds. Many had issues in their young heads about their weight, about whether or not they were liked by their peers, about their fears of standing out and being rejected. It was so sad – both their experiences, and their conformity as a result of their perceptions. What kind of a society are we that individualism is rejected, difference studiously avoided, offhand comments internalised and used to justify a lifetime of self-loathing?

When I was young my Granny told me that I had a face like a moon and legs like tree trunks. My brother would tell me I was fat and stupid, only removing the stupid tag following my GCSE results, but the comments on my appearance remained. These things still hurt, if I’m honest. Looking back now, I see a slight girl. Looking at pictures of me as a 14 year old, I was wearing the loosest, baggiest clothing possible – XXL t-shirts, smocks, whatever disguise I could find. So it continued until I got a boyfriend, I think, and it started again when we broke up, as I ate myself to coping with it, and then really had a weight to be worried about and ashamed of. As a teenager, I was completely self conscious, and hearing about other young girls feeling the same, I felt terrible, for them and for me.

I want a daughter, and I want to bring her up to believe in herself, to be her own person, do her own thing, and recognise how beautiful she is.