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.

Who are you?

 

How do you define yourself? Who are you? If the first thing you say about yourself is about what you do, then you’ve missed the point. I used to start out with wife, mother, nurse. But that isn’t who I am it’s what I am; there’s a big difference. Who you are has to do with your attributes, your inner self, your qualities; what you are describes your roles in life.

I am a parent, was a wife and mother, and that’s how I defined myself. Then I began to realize that what I did had nothing to do with who I am. I spent a couple of months by myself, groping in the dark, to try to define myself as something other than a used-to-be-a-wife-and-mother-but-now-a-college-student-totally-on-my-own. It took some time for me to realize that my roles did not define who I was as a person. Gradually, my mind cleared, and I crawled out of the black hole I had made for myself to find that I actually like who I am. There were things I needed to change; I was a perfectionist, judgmental, and needed to allow others to be who they are for themselves, not because that’s what I wanted for them.

Today, I am still happy with who I am. I don’t expect life to give me anything, but I do expect to take from life whatever I need to sustain me. I will search out what I need; in books, from other people, from the Universe, wherever I can find it. And I think I can help others who might have lost their way. I will never push myself onto others; they have to want what I have and ask. Does that sound arrogant? Maybe. But I believe I have to take care of myself or I am no use to others who might need me. I know who I am and what I have to offer.  Do you?