At the very least, acceptance.
How do you feel about your body?
Live with it?
Our lives are saturated by the images and messages that insinuate themselves into the fabric of our being. "Thinner," whisper the voices. "Bigger there. Smaller there. Cap those teeth, whiten them, whittle down those cheeks and plump the lips." Wrinkles and gray hair and the inevitable trail map of life -- are they marks of wisdom and beauty or blemishes to be ashamed of?
I'll never be twenty again, or even thirty. I'll be forty-five in less than a month. My face and my body bear the marks of everything I've done to myself, both good and bad. The scar on my left shin where the pointy end of a piece of driftwood punctured my leg walking on the beach in the dark. The waistline where the chaps my mom made for me in high school for horse shows, the chaps that still zip up on my thighs, won't quite buckle after two babies did a number on my hips. The freckles, the age spots, the wrinkles. The hands that are covered in tiny scars from so many accidents with kitchen knives. The scar in my palm where I learned the hard way that the best way to get frozen peppermint ice cream out of the bottom of a carton is NOT by prying it with a butter knife. The scar on my lip where the bad mole had to come off. The skin between my belly button and...well, you know...that wrinkles when I bend over because it never quite regained its elasticity after being so hugely pregnant. Breasts that nursed two babies, not quite as perky as they used to be, but they still point in the right direction. The other stuff that was always there - the junk in my trunk and the wonderfully strong and sturdy legs I inherited from my birthmother. Peasant legs, I call them. My hair, not quite as thick as it was ten years ago but still thick enough, graying on the sides. Short now, because I no longer have the desire to maintain a long hairstyle for the simple sake of vanity.
Do I love my body? I don't know, honestly. Some parts of it I love. Some parts I used to hate, but somewhere in between the years of fighting it, hating it, exercising it and getting older in it, I grew to accept it. It is mine, with all of its beauty and all of its sags, wrinkles, dimples and bags. I work it out to keep it healthy and strong. I keep it really super reasonably clean. It could stand to be thinner and stronger, but I'll be happy with strong enough. I don't need to climb mountains or run marathons, but I want to ride horses, play with my children (and my someday grandchildren), ski, swim, walk, run, stretch and do my own yardwork until the day I die. If I treat it right, it will get me there and I'll be grateful.
Put it in a line with a million other almost forty-five year old bodies and it'll just blend right in. (Unless you sandwich me in between Cindy Craword and Claudia Schiffer, then I'm screwed).
Beauty is not a number on a scale. Beauty is fluid, individual, constant and timeless. For every one of you that does not think that I'm beautiful, there is another who does.
It really does matter that you are beautiful in the who of you. Beautiful in the how and the why. Your physical self, in its imperfections, its glory, its strength and weakness, all of it adds up to beautiful.
My wish for every girl, for every woman, is to celebrate and acknowledge her unique beauty. To enjoy her body in all the ways she can, in loving, in caring for others, in working hard, in play and in rest. To treat herself in the way that we treat someone we love, by being good to herself, caring for herself. Whether she is a professional athlete or a mall-walker, lean or curvacious, tall or short, whether her skin is brown, bronze, freckled, pale or olive, I want her to know that she is beautiful. I want YOU to know that YOU are beautiful.
This year an inspired group of bloggers, mostly women, came together to join their creative forces in a really wonderful project. 12 women of all different shapes and sizes bared it all to show just how diverse and unique and beautiful women are. The proceeds from this project will (after printing costs) will benefit the National Eating Disorders Association.
I ordered my Blogger Body Calendar today. Go. Check it out. If you have a daughter or a niece or a grandchild or a partner or a woman in your life that you care about, won't you order one too?