I woke up this morning feeling relatively rested.
I padded down to the kitchen, set out food for the cats, started a pot of coffee and sat down in front of my little mobile computing device to catch up on the social media world’s ruminations from overnight.
And that’s when I started feeling angry, upset, and frustrated with the world at-large.
I read a moving blog post from a fellow writer who has been documenting her weight loss journey over the past five months. With her permission, I’m sharing her story, along with my reaction to it. (But be sure and read her story first.)
Let me preface this rant – and it is a rant, I recognize that – by stating what a fortunate woman I am. I am blessed with unconditional love from many different parts of my life. I feel my talents are appreciated, my intellect mostly respected, and even my harebrained schemes are tolerated.
When I read Erica’s experience, I felt the need to scream out: what is it that you influential few have against women?
Empirical fact: bodies change. They never, ever, ever stay the same. We begin life as tiny babies, grow into adults, and over time will age and die. Some of us may leave life sooner than expected, but for the most part that’s how it works. Look to any other living organism and you’ll see it there too: it’s called a life cycle, people, and we all have them.
Some people undergo cosmetic or dermatological procedures, for any number of reasons. It could be for the sake of their careers, perhaps, or for a boost to their own esteem, or as part of a journey that they’re on. They should all be free to decide for themselves what is best for them, without undue influence. What I never consent to is another person telling you what you need to do to your own body so that you can live up to another’s standard.
Myself? I underwent a Lasik procedure more than 10 years ago that could qualify as “cosmetic.” At the time I visited a local clinic that has built an excellent reputation over the years for how it treats overall eye health. As I sat down with the doctor who would perform the procedure, the first thing he said after performing an examination was “you are an excellent candidate for this procedure, but here are some of the risks you should think about.” I never once felt pressured to make any decision quickly and if I had decided not to go through with the procedure I do not think I would have felt any disdain from the professionals who saw me throughout the process. I do not regret the decision – any time I’m up in the middle of the night and don’t have to fumble around for my glasses, I’m glad I did it.
When it comes to my weight, I struggle just like many others do. I can pinpoint the words that were said long ago that triggered the struggle, so I see anyone’s journey to a healthy weight as equal parts mental and physical. While I recognize when I do not eat well, and temper that with days of eating better and moving more, it is still a struggle. It will never not be. That may be why reading about Erica’s recent experience sent my temper to the boiling point.
I would not say that I am satisfied with the shape of my body or certain physical features, but I appreciate that it is my body and wouldn’t go to extremes to change parts of it. I do not want to look like I was able to stop the clock at any one particular point in time. I would not be who I am without all my body’s imprefections.
Those gray hairs on my dark-haired head? I’ve earned every one of them; and I am at peace with the idea that more and more of them will appear, and by not dyeing my hair I am not facing a decision down the road of when I will finally return to my roots. My roots will age along with the rest of me.
The poouch of stretched out skin that now bunches above my belly button? I would never have that if I hadn’t borne my son. The same can be said of the smile-shaped scar on my lower abdomen where the doctor performed the emergency c-section to safely deliver him. She actually apologized during the procedure that the scar may appear above my bikini line, to which I asked “do you really think I’m worried about wearing a bikini right now?”
The lines that appear on my face whenever I smile – both around my mouth and eyes – mean I have had much to laugh about, delight in, and smile over.
The ever-present pot belly means I keep finding new and interesting foods to prepare and enjoy.
The dark circles under my eyes mean that, even though I was woken up overnight by my son’s fear of trains, I got to spend some time holding him close and marveling at his beauty while he fell back asleep.
None of this means that I let myself go. It means that I do not spend hours each day at a gym. It means that I find time each day for what’s important to me and those who I love. Somedays that includes a workout. Somedays that includes a few homemade chocolate chip cookies. Bottom line: I am blessed with good health if not physical perfection. And the days that I can love myself despite my physical imperfections are days of triumph.
What kept me from growling further into the day was reading the final words of Erica’s post. The ones where she forgave this professional, and moved on to celebrate the progress that she has made, and deny this one person’s attempt to make her feel like less of a person to lose weight and take care of her whole self in the process. I realized that what I read was a triumph over those faceless few that will place a rare specimen on a pedestal and call it attainable beauty. It’s a victory I hope more people out there will get to savor. Here’s hoping.