Naked Women Everywhere
Sunday, January 4, 2009
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.