Sunday, July 08, 2012

Body Image

“My *** is too wide. My ******* aren’t big enough. My ankles are thick. I don’t like my *******. I won’t go out in a swimsuit.” You don’t have to be around women very long to hear these comments. And yet, for as long as I can remember, I have felt such comments to be irrelevant at best, and even ungrateful.

I want to turn around and say, “Your *** is exactly the size it was meant to be.” Subject to the ability to modify through diet and exercise, that is. “What makes you think you deserve a different one? We weren’t all meant to be models nor were we all meant to be geniuses. Someone in the world will think each of us is beautiful, bright and lovable, even if only ourselves.”

It is our own responsibility to come to terms with what we have, and what we don’t. We may mourn losses as we age. I am sympathetic to the late Nora Ephron’s “I’m sorry about my neck.” I, too, am sorry about physical losses as I age, but I work hard to slow them down, and I am fortunate to have the few losses I have. To date, there are some parts that hurt (wrist and shoulder) and some parts (knees) that require ongoing intervention, but everything works! I see others who are not as fortunate, who have deteriorating conditions, and I grieve for them.

It would be nice to be prettier, thinner, more fit, but it is startling how many people want to have body image issues on my behalf. People want to dress me differently, change my hair, bleach and straighten my teeth, give me different diets and exercise programs. I take their advice with thanks, but I am perplexed why they have so many opinions about my appearance. And why they feel free to share them.

More than one man has conveyed to me that I’m not pretty enough to marry. Okay, but there is not a lot I can do about the size of my ***, my drooping *******, or the fact that I am not particularly athletic. Since I wasn’t planning on marrying any of them, I have to wonder what was the intent of that message? If they weren’t planning on marrying me—why not just…not ask?

Why be hurtful? I’ve come to conclude it is more about these men than it is about me. I don’t even blame them. What they want is what they want. I don’t gain anything by trashing their view. And I’m still friends with all of them—I can think of at least three—but a little more at arm’s length.

I work hard to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in all areas of my life. I am grateful for my body and how it works for me. I am grateful especially for my mind, even though my memory is not what it once was. I am grateful for all my friends, even the ones who aren’t perfect—that would be all of them. How fitting, since I am clearly not perfect either.

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