Recently I got to enjoy time with a couple of women friends in my life. My pool pal invited me to dinner and despite the questionable quality of the meal, WE had a lovely time, chatting, telling stories, getting to know each other better. She’s a dozen or so years older than me and I’ve been blessed all my adult life to have an older woman friend besides my mother. These older friends have changed along the way. I enjoy them while I get to have them in my life and then I mourn and remember each one who passes for the special light they brought me. In a way I keep them alive because I remember and honor them.
A childhood life-long friend decided we had been missing each other too much and invited me to the beach also this week. We’d planned it long ago so it would be on both our calendars – no excuses. We have the best time talking and reminiscing when we are together but between her schedule and mine, boy howdy bob, is it hard to find a date to fit us both. Us hard working geriatric women, you know, we are so busy keeping ourselves busy.
We didn’t quite make it to the beach. Her car was having fits and it scared the bejesus out of both of us before we even got to the summit of the Coast Range. Neither of us felt we were up to having a vehicle breakdown on the mountain or clear over at the beach. We turned around, came back to town, had a lovely lunch and chat, and know we are going to have to do it again soon. I took her to see the labyrinth I use every week which delighted her. Now she has an image in her mind when she reads my posts and silly Facebook posts. So much fun. We’ll try for the beach another day. August will be warmer.
So. Here we are. Three women of age, who are contributing taxpaying citizens of this society, two of us having raised children, the third having taught our children, all three of us dealing with illnesses and aging. What was our main concern and we all agreed on? How ugly we think our bodies are. Yes. I am going to say it again and I’m shouting it this time. HOW UGLY WE THINK OUR BODIES ARE. Now real loud and angry this time. HOW UGLY WE THINK OUR BODIES ARE.
And why? Really, just why? My body is my body and despite the myth that body size and shape can be controlled (which of course it really can’t) the body is still the body. Currently the female ideal in fashion magazines is a freak of nature. Six foot tall women with slender hips and big boobs just don’t occur naturally. Very few women possess bodies like that. Those models feel free to give health and “beauty” advice but their bodies are not our bodies. We might have the same or similar equipment but it doesn’t all work the same. This concern with bodies really has to do with fashion and power.
And there’s the rub.
We are women of age. Why should we care any more or why should any woman care at all, ever? If a person is going to be interested in us at this point in our lives it will be because of our brilliance, or our cooking, or our caring, not our bodies. That’s the way it should be at any age. The sad thing is little girls, six, seven, eight year old girls, are so freaked out about their bodies they are already anorexic or diabetic. That’s not right. That’s manipulating how people think about themselves.
What does it say about American society that fully half its population (females) hates their bodies because they have been conditioned (by males) to hate them, but the other half of the population (males) wants that female half for their bodies? And then never stop letting us know our bodies are, well, wrong? How circular and twisted is that?
Yes, it’s pretty damn twisted. Strap on your seat belts; this ain’t no amusement ride. WE ARE NOT AMUSED.
Until we all get over that bodies are bodies and AIN’T NO CONTROLING HOW YOUR BODY LOOKS, we are doomed to a dysfunctional society full of depression, repression, insecurity, sexual abuse and harassment, and sanctioned rape. There are two elements one can control about the body: 1. what kind of food you put in your mouth and when you eat it and, 2. how much and what kinds of exercise you take. Despite all the excellent advice and techniques out there, how your body handles stress and how well it sleeps is also not dependably controllable. How your body uses the food and exercise you take is also out of your control. The body does what the body does. For some people all the tips and tricks and eating plans and exercise and genetics work for them to produce a slender “normal/average” body. For others it doesn’t. This is true for men’s bodies too but somehow they don’t seem to have the same amount of pressure. Oh right, they do the raping.
With so many elements really beyond our control, it means we have to break down barriers, appearance barriers and appearance bias. We don’t come out of the same mold and thank the gods, goddesses, the universe, and all the powers that be for that because it would be one big fat BORING world if we were all the same.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of ourselves. To know how to eat and what to eat for maximum health, to learn how and what exercise to take if you weren’t taught in school, to keep yourself clean,well groomed, and rested; that’s really important. But don’t get caught in the appearance trap.
I saw a video with the title Bikini Body, with a very slender, perky boobed, blond wearing a very tiny bikini on the cover. She might have weighed 120 pounds, maybe 34-24-34 to use the old way of measuring. She was young and pretty. But the title implies you have to look like her, to have a body like hers, to wear a bikini. If you don’t have that body you should not wear a bikini. I got to have that body for about three months when I was thirteen until the boobs did their genetically programmed expansion.
I’m not fond of bikinis. You can’t walk in them or swim in them. They are for looking at, not for activity. If we count volleyball bikinis, those are made of special material and the professionals glue and tape them in place. Yikes! There again it’s about appearance. Do they play any differently in a one-piece maillot? I think not.
I am pleased to say my pool has lifeguards of all shapes and sizes and recently hired a young woman of size as a new lifeguard. She is gorgeous, as in very pretty, even and symmetrical facial features, long thick hair to die for, curvy soft looking skin, and the most beautiful smile. She loves teenagers and old women. I’ll take her as lifeguard any day over the boy lifeguard who does his yoga poses and picks his toenails while he’s supposed to be lifeguarding us.
Take care of yourself. Break barriers. Love your body. It’s your body today, it was your body then, and it’s always going to be your body. Take care of it, but don’t worry if it looks like anybody else’s, it’s yours. Find nice clothes and dress up as well as you like. The more you care for yourself the more it shows.
Women are beautiful for their minds, their skin, their curves, their spirit and passion, for their hearts and caring and love. YOU are beautiful today exactly as you are, and beautiful forever because you are more than your body. If we have to keep reminding ourselves we are beautiful within our bodies, so be it.