Victoria Smith is a regular contributor to The Critic, writing on women’s issues, parenting, and mental health. Her work has also appeared in The New Statesman, The Independent, and UnHerd. Her book Hags looks at the demonisation of middle-aged women in politics and popular culture.
In this episode, Stella and Sasha chat with Victoria about the depths of body hatred and body loathing. Victoria shares her perceptions about experiences described in the context of gender dysphoria, seeming incredibly relatable to her experience of anorexia and disordered eating when she was younger. The conversation exposes the distress of the burden of acclimating to the maturing female form at a young age manifesting as dysphoric perceptions of reality — a coping mechanism for discomfort.
Another fascinating concept explored in the conversation is how with age, females continue to experience confusion and discomfort with their changing bodies and find themselves in a constant state of reconciling not just their own experiences in relation to their bodies, but society’s reactions to the changes in both their physical presentation as well as their attitudes, expressions, and contributions to society.
Victoria speaks charmingly about the sentiments behind her recently published book, Hags: The Demonisation of Middle-Aged Women; and how society has always fostered a certain lack of respect for the wisdom and discernment women of a certain age contribute to culture and the symbolism behind it. There’s a sort of generational war between young women and older women that has always seemingly existed and yet the journey of experiencing womanhood has a way of bridging the gap between the two.
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“It seems that gender dysphoria was in this magic kind of ... you’re not allowed to criticize it. You just have to accept it.” — Victoria Smith [6:06]
“People don’t really understand how horrific it is when you have a deep-seated eating disorder and it does equate to someone with deep gender dysphoria.” — Stella [29:26]
“It’s a constantly evolving process. That is what is so scary about making permanent medical decisions about something that is so in flux.” — Sasha [35:54]
“You just don’t know how you are going to feel in 5‒10‒15 years’ time. because so much can change. Both with your body and how other people around you relate to it.” — Victoria Smith [39:51]