Naked Women Everywhere

Many of friends and fellow bloggers and really, probably something like 70% of females between 15-80 are trying to diet, lose a few pounds, get in shape, and the like. Many of these directives come from a place of new starts and a desire to feel good, go for walks, live longer for our families, for ourselves.

But let's be honest, a lot of these impulses also come from a place of self-loathing, slanted views of perfection, a sense that that size 6 pair of Seven jeans will somehow make our lives better. Maybe we won't feel like the chubby mom at the PTA meetings clad in a big sweater to belie her discomfort with her body. Or the skinny woman at the community pool reticent to get into the water because of the cellulite dimpling the backs of her thighs. Or maybe the girl caked in makeup to hide angry, red pimples, scars from old ones; her closet a mix of things that cover up her back and chest.

I have to say as a group, women are very hard on how we view our own bodies. How many of us have used words like ugly, fat, gross, ginormous, just wrong, or my personal favorite too. As in my thighs are too big, my boobs are too saggy, my legs too big, my stomach too squishy. We're too this, too that. Not to say I'm not affected by these same impulses but I want to offer you a gift of some perspective.

My work at the spa has put me into contact with hundreds of naked women. During the average brazilian wax I get to see bellies, butts, thighs, legs and of course, vaginas in bright light exposed, sometimes under a magnified lamp to tweeze the last few stragglers. Seeing such a wide cross section of women has led me to a greater acceptance of my own body. We are exposed to so many airbrushed and retouched images that we forget what women’s bodies really look like.

With the sole exception of the local university girl’s swim team(those women truly had the most beautiful bodies I have ever seen, an amazing combination of strength and shape), every woman I’ve worked on has cellulite. In fact, skinny girls who don't work out seem to get it the worst. Every naked body that has rested on my table has veins mapping the circulatory system. I have seen scarred knees and stretch marks, some from children born, some from weight lost, others from growth spurts. I have seen scary dark wiry hairs that shoot from all manner of seemingly unfair places like the back of our legs or even our nipples. I have seen navels stretched from childbirth, scars from ingrown hairs, dimpled knees and pimpled butts. I've witnessed mastectomy scars, broken noses healed over in the aftermath of an abusive spouse and more c-section scars than I can recall. I've noticed strangely taut skin from too big of breast implants put into too small a woman. I've seen scars from attacks, surgeries, I've seen tattoos, some cherished others reviled by their owners.

My point? These are the bodies of real women. They are not airbrushed for my viewing or artfully arranged. They are laid bare on a white sheet-covered slab for my scrutiny. We shouldn't compare at all but if we do, because we will, can it at least be to something real. I don't like my legs, they are what I call sturdy. Since the realization as a young girl that my body was frequently appraised by others, these calves of mine have cause consternation, a desire to be long and lithe rather than the mass of roundness and curves I am. My husband teases me about my leg loathing, yeah, you have sturdy legs he says, sturdy to hold up my big babies. And when I complain about my ample behind, he reminds me that in his very humble opinion all these round fleshy parts of my body were designed for the singular purpose of lovemaking.

Let's make a pact to be easier on our selves. Let's try to see our bodies more from the perspective of those who use and love them, our lovers, our husbands, our children, and less through the eyes of an unsympathetic critic. Let's acknowledge all that these bodies have done: housed humans, run races, comforted lovers, warmed babies, fought diseases, given and received pleasure, ushered in the living, held the hands of the dying, cooked things, created things.

Of course I say all these things stuck squarely in the middle of the beauty myth. I don't want wrinkles, I will probably never stop wishing or working for a flatter stomach. I don't ever expect that I'll be free of these kind of longings. My goal is only to be kinder and gentler--resting most of the time, in a place of gratitude for my body that is strong and healthy.

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28 comments:

rassles said... January 4, 2009 at 5:38 PM  

Those words, the ones you just typed? Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the people who will read this agree with you one hundred percent.

I mean, that's a good thing. You have a wonderful mindset and readers as well (your readers seem to be intelligent, open, and unencumbered by petty attitudes. I of course include myself in there. Kind of).

But we are not the people who need to hear this: everyone else is. There's fucking pressure all over the place, and it's hard to ignore, and they all should listen to you.

That being said, this really freaked me out. Really. Because, in all honesty? That larger-hipped naked woman? Is like...me. But I have bigger tits. But nearly all of it: the stomach, the legs, the hips in proportion to everything.

That's fucking weird.

I was kind of apprehensive about typing that at first, because it means people know what I look like naked (hee hee hee, I said naked). But you know. Whatever.

baroness von b said... January 4, 2009 at 7:34 PM  

It's taken me 47 years on the planet to come to this point, to where I'm actually proud of what I've gone through and where I am. Thank you, dear lady, for calling on us all to revisit loving our bodies for how they've gotten us to where we are, right this very moment. What a lovely, lovely post!

greenbean said... January 4, 2009 at 8:21 PM  

welp, I find myself still doing post process photo liposuction on many people. (start evil laugh) Bruhaha feel bad about your bodies, keeps me busy n working! (echo out evil laugh) muhahahah.
all kidding aside, yeah surprisingly guys feel the same way too. we just hide it better, but deep down we hurt inside too =(

Dan said... January 4, 2009 at 8:58 PM  

Bravo!

Mongoliangirl said... January 4, 2009 at 10:05 PM  

My body ain't no joke and I love it. By "ain't no joke" I mean I am HUGE. Not fat...but HUGE! I am tall and strong and am so proud of the hard work I've done with this wonderful body of mine. Just last night someone said, "Those are a working woman's hands!" Yes they are! Thank you Miss FF. I really like this post. Signed, the Mongolian Amazon Woman!
PS: Like the new look around here. But am clueless about the comments section.

Anonymous said... January 5, 2009 at 7:43 AM  

lol

cndymkr / jean said... January 5, 2009 at 6:14 PM  

I loved this post. It rings so true. It's something I have to work on every day and as I age it gets easier. I think it does simply because I care less about what other people think. Now having said that - I still want to lose weight and have boobs that stay up on their own and all that other stuff, but if it doesn't happen it's ok.

That picture of the back of the woman with the laced up back - ouch, ouch. It made me cringe.

bacioni said... January 6, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

Thank you for this post! We are our own worst self-critics (well, some of us are). It's so easy to compare the imperfections we can scrutinize in the mirror with the fully-clad women around us, so your (non-judgmental) viewpoint is refreshing.

We all have bodies, be they big, little, tall, short. It's my goal to remember that it is my spirit that gets hurt when my head makes judgment against the body my spirit inhabits.

Anonymous said... January 6, 2009 at 9:51 AM  

your post brought tears to my eyes. we are more than our bodies, i think. we have souls that deserve some attention too.

Kris said... January 6, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

I think I found a new favorite post.

SSG said... January 7, 2009 at 2:19 AM  

i have missed ya formerlyfun. A new year a new look? Liking the green. And loving this post. I really wanna write a post now. You know what's sad? Sometimes I dislike myself so much i can't enjoy what I'm doing and I drift off into the part of my brain telling me bad things. I dont know why i do this sometimes, but posts like yours help some aspects of it. You rock. Happy new year!

Magpie said... January 7, 2009 at 5:50 AM  

Really good post.

Do you know this site? http://theshapeofamother.com/blog/

You'll like it.

MJ said... January 7, 2009 at 10:26 AM  

*applause*

Captain Steve said... January 7, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

First off, I've been out for ages, love the new (?) template.

Secondly, you are a mad genius.

Gypsy said... January 8, 2009 at 7:37 AM  

This is precisely the reason I was such a sucker for those "Real Beauty" ads from Dove.

Nicely said, girl.

Arizaphale said... January 8, 2009 at 8:16 AM  

The other thing to add is that you may as well love the body you're in because in 5 years time it's probably going to have deteriorated some more and you'll be looking back saying "I wish I looked like I did back then."
I know this.
I have done it.
Thanks for reassuring us all from a position of great knowledge and experience :-)

Dirty Pirate Hooker said... January 8, 2009 at 9:35 AM  

Dude, I LOVE your new blog design!!! It's awesome.

And yes, I agree. Be happy with what you've got. And I will be. Right after I go purge and lose 10 pounds. It's my 'winter coat'.

tiffany1377 said... January 8, 2009 at 2:38 PM  

Brilliant post!!

nicedaydesigns said... January 8, 2009 at 3:05 PM  

Wonderful post, and I think more women need to read those words, so I'm putting a link on my blog.

It's usually women who are their own worst enemies and critics, the more honesty and openess that we have maybe we can break down some barriers and start loving ourselves for the way we are.

formerly fun said... January 8, 2009 at 4:20 PM  

rassles-
first of all, if you look like that you're hawt because those curves are beautiful. I know there is tremendous pressure to be thin but I do not trust guys that wantyou to look like a teenage boy. I am all for being at a healthy weight, I myself need to lose 15 to fit into my height/weight requirements but I think all that pressure and negative self-talk is part of why the weight sticks. Uh, and uhm, beer.

baroness-
Thanks and I'm glad you're at a happier place body wise. As I get older and see what the REAL bad stuff is with regard to our bodies, a few wrinkles, scars and flabby places aren't so scary.

greenbean-
I think you're right, men worry, even obsess a little too, but women are far more valued for their looks. A big dude or less attractive per our social standards can still get women if he studies hard, works hard, makes money, same cannot be said for woman.

Dan-
Thanks.

Mongolian Girl-Notice I fixed the comments, want to add commentluv but it's jacking my comments section. I also love the imagery of you as an amazonian women.

jean-
like I said, I don't think I'll ever be totally free of those longings just hope to get a little better every day at not being punishing.

bacioni- well said, it's so easy to feel bad when you compare your body to bodies that after all the arbrushing and filters aren't real representations.

anon-
thank you and I totally agree. It's ok to want to look good but it cannot be where your self-worth rests.

Kris-
Thank you.

ssg-me too, I really have to make a concerted effort to stop myself in my tracks when I get obsessive about picking out the things I don't like about my physical appearance. Some days I win the battle, some days I don't.

Magpie-Thanks, and I'll check it out.

mj-Thanks.

captain steve-
welcome back and thanks.

gypsy- me too, I almost included a picture here because everytime I see those ads I am reminded that this is how women look not the heroin shiek thin models, not the emaciated, airbrushed, hair extensioned....

Arizaphale-is that not so the truth. I see teen girls all the time clearly incomfortable in their own skin covered up and shrinking looking and I want to say, oh enjoy the body and the skin and the perky boobs now my friend, revel in your youth but what is it they say, youth is wasted on the young:)

DPH-Thanks and fight it!

Tiffany- Thank you.

nicedaydesigns-
Thank you so much.

gullybogan said... January 8, 2009 at 4:27 PM  

The best solution to the problem of women and their poor body image, based on your observations, is for women to simply all go naked.

I think that if women could see other women naked on a continuous daily basis, they would soon reach the same realisation that you have reached on body image.

We might need some sort of transparent sheath for women in cooler climes, to keep them warm, but i'm pretty sure that whoever takes over the task of designing clothes from the defunct fashion industry could manage something like that.

Hedon said... January 8, 2009 at 9:31 PM  

You rock!

I have to agree with this post 100% and hope you encourage everyone to rethink their relationship with their body.

I hate to see women let a bunch of air-brushed make believe photos make them feel badly about themselves. There's nothing wrong with being young and thin, but there's nothing wrong with not being young and thin, either.

Way to go!

Gwen said... January 15, 2009 at 9:24 PM  

As a 33 year old women who's recently had a mastectomy, and who's struggled with both anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and body dysmorphia at various intervals my entire life, I am profoundly moved and inspired by your words. I've often written about this phenomenon of a culture where women are allowed, and expected to hate and disavow their own bodies. It is both refreshing and encouraging to read something that invites all women to reconsider their own value, remeasure our standards of beauty. Thank you for this important post. ~gwen

Sarah said... April 19, 2009 at 6:14 PM  

I knew there was just one more reason I liked you so much!

I absolutely 100% love this post.

Jenny, the Bloggess said... June 15, 2009 at 5:40 PM  

Profoundly beautiful, my friend.

Anti Wrinkle Treatment said... September 29, 2009 at 7:51 AM  

Classical. Dynamic women of today.

FBCVH: Pastor Rob Casey said... October 12, 2009 at 9:02 PM  

as a Pastor, I have a barrage of issues that I face in the lives of both men and women. I often deal with men who are struggling with pornography addiction and women who are struggling with self image. I stumbled upon your blog article and have to say that I loved what you wrote. I'll probably keep it as a reference article for the next time I'm sitting across from a gal who's believing the lie that her worth is bound up in her body. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
~Pastor Rob Casey

Albert said... January 10, 2011 at 2:12 AM  

Well said and beautiful words is used. Women might be concerned about all these issues about their body. But men will start to concern at some point of time too. I think this article should have a "man" version too. I know many men are concern about their tummy and hair.

If I have a wife with cellulite, stretch marks and wrinkles, I don't really care. She loved me with all her heart and willing to make an important decision to be with me for the rest of my life.

Honestly, I have nothing to add to what you've said. Just my thoughts. Hope you can write more of it. Thanks

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