I’m comfortably in my 40’s; I’ve had 2 kids; I weigh more than I ever have; I have stretch marks, cellulite, hyper-pigmented scars from years of being a tomboy and playing roughly with my sons; I always seem to have a few mysterious bruises on my body. My back is as reliable as the weather and my knees complain constantly. Yet, I’ve never loved my body more.
I’m not finer; I’m not sexier; but I AM bolder. And I love it.
But I recognize that some don’t. Some women don’t appreciate the bikini pictures on Instagram and the tight dresses worn to social events. But, that’s not a me thing; it’s a woman thing.
You know she is too big to have that on.
I’ll admit she’s got a nice body, but she doesn’t need to let the world know.
She’s way too young.
She’s way too old.
She’s somebody’s momma.
She ain’t going to find a man to marry her dressing that way.
My man would never let me wear that.
Who will take her seriously?
At what point will we allow other women to embrace and love themselves: mind and body? Isn’t that Sisterhood? I’ve never heard men tear each other apart the way women do. What is it about us that makes us uncomfortable with another woman’s confidence, shape or decisions? Has society trained us so thoroughly to view another woman as an adversary that we are immediately threatened, offended, disgusted or angered by simply the look of another sister? Our brains are set to judge and react the moment another woman steps into the room. That can’t be right. It seems that we should be celebrating when we witness self-love (cause that’s what I am talking about–not those that some dress scantily because of self-hate, abuse, or insecurity).
It took me a long time to get here—to this point of loving myself, including loving my body. I was the girl who did the “we must, we must, we must increase our bust” breast pumps as a teenager, prayed for a butt, bought Suzanne Sommers Thigh Master in a desperate attempt to reduce my mom-inherited thick thighs, and bought bottles of Ambi and cocoa butter to fade stubborn elementary school scars. At some point, I have bought caffeine creams to reduce cellulite, considered lipo, gotten body wrapped, and endured ridiculous-ass diets. I have had, and still have, days when I feel ugly or fat or just wrong.
But when I became pregnant with my first son, I starting experiencing fewer of those days. The first time I truly felt beautiful was when I was obviously pregnant. My journey to body-love has continued from there. This body has delivered two babies; pulled through a couple of major surgeries; countless vacation-adventures. It still allows me to dance until the wee hours of the night; play basketball with my boys and hike mountains. I am past the age where my mother first got cancer; and am at the age where I have friends who are dying too young or suffering with body ailments that cause them to feel old.
So I push myself to take care of this body, so that it will continue to take care of me. I workout when I don’t want to (and I never really want to) and resist eating many things that I want. I make sacrifices daily. So when I want to show my body off by wearing something sexy or revealing, it’s more about showing off my work and dedication than it is about showing off my body.
Admittedly, I like feeling sexy too. I don’t believe that I should have to sacrifice being sexy because I have a man, two children, a job or am middle-aged. I can be a professional, hold degrees, be a volunteer and still desire to feel sexy sometimes. Who created the idea that a woman must shed the desire to feel and be sexy at a certain age or certain stage of her life? And I am confused why people assume that when a woman wants to be sexy; it’s because she is searching for sex or a man. Sure, sometimes women use sexiness to attract men, but that’s oftentimes not the case. When it is the case, a woman should be able to make that choice about what to do and how to use her body. It is her body! It is my body! I want to celebrate it—in my way (some think that cherishing one’s body is keeping it covered, some think that revealing the body is a way to celebrate it. No one is wrong).
My journey for self-acceptance—mind and body—has been personal –as each person’s is. The woman who seems to have the perfect shape but was catcalled for 8 years as she walked to school; the morbidly obese woman who is trying yoga for the first time; the tall woman who everyone says looks like a model now, but was dateless in high school, the woman who ran track and felt that her legs were too muscular to be considered feminine — are all on a continuous journey of self-acceptance. We all are.
So, let’s stop body-shaming each other. Ending objectification must start within our sisterhood. Let’s assume that each woman is participating – as best as she can- in a journey to heal, to embrace, and ultimately to celebrate her whole self –including both her visible and her invisible scars.