When I receive a magazine sent to residents of our fine city every month, I read it because I read everything. However, the ads infuriate me and always have. For some reason a slew of quotes and experiences converged on my mind this week, so when that magazine came in the mail with an ad that said something to the effect of "hey, your kids are back in school, come get your boobs lifted and your fat slurped away because you have kids, but you really don't need to look like you do cause that's just awful for the rest of us," I felt myself snap, a snap that finally allowed me to accept a truth I'm proud to claim:
I like my body.
I've learned that people who say negative things about others' bodies are saying more about themselves than they are about the people they are attempting to shame. I'm resolving now to stop letting the body hate that pops up now and then be an inside job, an attack on me by me.
And I think it's time we all start this practice because it is the only way I see putting the people who assault my consciousness with these ads out of business. And they NEED TO GO!
Jamie Lee Curtis said in an article back in 2012 (and I'm paraphrasing, no one sue me, the article is at my Nanny's where magazines from 2005 still live, and maybe a few from 1992.) that we celebrate kids changing, their bodies growing, them moving to the next phase. But for adults, and I would say especially for women, those celebrations stop at some point. It all just becomes everyone screaming "Reverse, reverse! Back out of the cellulite and the stretch marks! Pull back until my skin is smooth again!" There's no celebration. We're so superficial. Our milestones aren't deemed pretty enough anymore, so we just pull away from the progress.
And we do it to ourselves. I saw a sign at my eye doctor's office the other day. One of the receptionists had posted it so she had to look at it all day. It was the quote from Kate Moss that says, "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Um, love you Kate, but I'm not taking advice from someone who lived on heroin through the better part of the nineties. Plus, have these people never tasted food? Never face planted into a pan of gluten-free brownies that didn't taste like cardboard after looking for those angels for two years? Do people who believe this even eat? Cause we are all about healthful living around here, and if you switched the word skinny with healthy I could get a little more on board with that quote. But there are about 10 million ways to be skinny without being healthy (ask Ms. Moss), so why are we setting the bar so low? Look pretty; die on the inside. No thanks.
So why don't we embrace the changes we've been through, the signs of life, and move on? Even when we want to, I think there's a hesitation because of how we've been programmed. Someone compliments our appearance: act coy, brush them off. Someone expresses a criticism about our appearance: believe them, talk about how we're trying to fix it, let our good feelings about how we look go. I'm guilty of all of it. Mindy Kaling said, "Some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don't hate themselves. So that's why you need to be a little bit brave." This is true, so let's just make people uncomfortable and be brave. Let's just start being brave, about everything, but let's be brave about this.
It's not about not acknowledging flaws; it's about knowing they make us unique. It's not about being gluttons; it's about being healthy for the right reasons. It's about not trying to be the prettiest girl in the room so we can aspire to be so much more. It's about lifting people up for their beauty, inside and out, and getting past the idea that our very narrow view of what beauty is means others are ugly because we say so. And for those of us who are okay with our bodies but still occasionally hear comments when the scale goes one way or the other, who are given a hard time for being a less than A-cup, let's nicely and with the love of Jesus put people in their place. I'm thinking, smile, say "I love my body", hope the person is smart enough to shut up.
As for the ads, I'm thinking of writing a letter and sending a picture of my beautifully stretched belly that has served as home for four children, my tree trunk thighs that have carried me through dance classes and down the aisle to Dennis. I'd let these people know I'm not interested in erasing evidence; my job is to collect every experience I'm given and wear it proudly, privileged to participate in the process of aging.