Body Image

We women have bodies in every size and shape. The range of hair color is amazing. Eye color, too. So why are we never satisfied with what we have, with the way our bodies look? We are short and tall, thin and not-so-thin, have hair that is blonde, brunette, black, red; that’s wavy, curly, or straight. Our eyes are brown, blue, hazel, green, violet, black. Whatever we have we want something different. If we’re short, we wish we were tall; if we have straight hair, we wish it was curly; if we have curly hair, we wish it was straight. Some of these things we can change; colored contact lenses, perms, straighteners, hair dyes. But our bodies are something different. We can’t be what we are not, even though there are those out there who tell us we can.

And I’m not totally blameless here, either. I’m short and wished I were taller. I’ve never, ever, had a perfectly flat belly. I’ve fought my weight since puberty. Then somewhere around the age of 50, I began to truly understand that I would never have the body I thought I wanted. My body is determined to stay the shape it is and nothing I can do will change that.

I came of age in the 60s, when Twiggy was the latest thing in fashion. Her boyish body made all of us feel fat, even if we weren’t. Fashion model figures are unobtainable for almost all of us, so why do we still try? The few top fashion models are fortunate that they have the body shape and bone structure to look the way they do. And they have to work hard at maintaining that famined look. I was happy to see there is an 80 something fashion model who is still working; that there are more models out there with curves instead of sharp angles; and there are now plus-sized models who are well-known.

Change comes slowly to society, and it has to be demanded by the majority, and it has to be sold as absolutely necessary. I often ponder some of the things we women are expected to do and be. Who decided that hair on women’s legs and underarms was a bad thing and should be removed? Who decided that women wearing dresses or skirts had to wear stockings or pantyhose, or tights? And who decided that women’s breasts had to be confined and constrained in corsets and bras? Who came up with the idea that women had to wear makeup to look good? Many of us have bought into these ideas and now can’t imagine not doing some of these things. We were raised to think these were good; not doing them was bad. I admire the women with enough courage to break the mold. They are the women we should appreciate as good role models.

I have learned to love my body. It is the only one I will have in this life and still works wonderfully well considering how old it is. It isn’t perfect by society’s standards, but it’s perfect for me, and that’s what’s important. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have a model’s body; that I will never be tall; that clothes never fit quite right. But I can also alter clothes so they do fit well; I can carry myself with good posture and grace; I can continue to eat healthy foods and exercise with the goal of being fit. I have this one body, this one life, and feel blessed to have it.

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World wonders

We have forgotten how to slow down; we have forgotten the wonder of a child seeing the world with new eyes. The world is full of wonders if we only take the time to see them. We don’t even have to go searching for them; they are all around us. Consider how a tree grows; it has been said that every leaf is situated perfectly so that it doesn’t shade another leaf and no other leaf shades it; all of the leaves are in the sunlight. I find that amazing!

Have you ever watched a bird fly? Each bird seems to have its own way of flying: the sparrow flaps its wings in spurts; the finches fold their wings against their body, fall a few inches, flap some more and rise, fold their wings and fall and on and on. Their flight looks like a giant sine wave. Hawks flap lazily until they hit a thermal and then soar effortlessly. Hummingbirds hover, can fly up, down and backwards.

Butterflies come in so many sizes, colors, patterns, you would have to be an expert to identify them all. Then there’s the sphinx moth that looks and flies like a miniature hummingbird. I remember the first time I saw one; I was so entranced watching it and then had to go look it up to see what it was!

Then there’s the flowers! We have wildflowers in a couple of beds in the front yard. I planted the seeds about 4 or 5 years ago, yet they continue to reseed and grow year after year. We scattered bulbs in various places about 10 years ago – so long ago we forgot where they were until spring when they sprout and grow and flower. Isn’t that amazing!!

Trees are just as amazing – I have seen little trees sprouting out of cracks in the sidewalk or out of the side of a mountain where no crack is visible. And there are so many shades of green here – who knew there were an infinite number of greens? In spring, when things start waking up after winter (and here that means Feb or March) the variety of shades of green is mind-boggling.

Since living in the desert, I have learned that most of the flora and fauna have adapted in unique ways to living in the hot, dry, climate. The jackrabbit has huge ears that are riddled with blood vessels that serve as air conditioning. Other mammals stay in burrows during the day and are only out to forage early mornings and late evenings. And how do the birds manage to perch on the prickly cactus without getting spines in their feet! The toads only come out to sing in the spring after a rain; the rest of the time they stay hidden in their holes in the riverbank. Tarantulas, too, mostly only come out after a rain.

Yes, we live in an amazing world and I thank the Creator every day for allowing me to see and hear all this wonderful world has to offer.

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What do you take for granted?

I was watching a show on PBS the other night about a family in Turkey that had children who were incapable of walking upright; they walked on their hands and feet. The children ranged in age from the early 20s to the mid 30s and had never had a medical evaluation until the researchers showed up to learn about them. My partner and I started talking about how access to medical care for them could have made a world of difference to their walking ability. Here in the US, if a child wasn’t walking by say, 18 months, there would have been all kinds of tests, physical therapy, etc. (provided the parents could afford it or had good health insurance.) But that also started me thinking about so many things we take for granted in most of the country. (There are parts of the US that are like Third World countries: no running water, no electricity, no access to medical care. But if you have the ability to read this, you probably don’t live in one of those areas. ) We have reliable electricity; clean water; reasonably inexpensive ways to heat and cool our homes; dependable access to food; relatively inexpensive fuel for our cars. Well, I think you get the picture. There have been so many times I didn’t even think about how electricity gets to my home when I flipped on a light switch; or I have turned on the faucet without ever thinking about how my water is cleaned and sent to my house. There are so many things I take for granted; that my partner will be here waiting for me when I get home from work; my pets will be happy to see me; my kids and grandkids will call me often just to say hi, and on and on.

What do you take for granted?