It’s What’s in Her Head

I had a lovely friend approach me today about my last blog post where I talk about the time (years) when I avoided looking at my body in the mirror. She was shocked that this was the case. She told me she thinks I’m extremely attractive (aw shucks), so she was surprised by what I wrote.

Slide1We talked for a while, trading stories of body image and our first-hand knowledge that attaining a lower weight had not, for us individually, magically created a healthy body image. We digested the stats, that 90% of women are dissatisfied with the shape of their bodies, that up to 50% of women are on a diet at any given moment, that the average woman spends 31 years of her life on a diet, that women – when provided with silhouettes of body types – consistently choose shapes that are larger than they are.

It didn’t take me long to convince her that my body image problem was, at least to some degree, independent of my former body shape problem. In fact, I saw her get it within the first sentence of my response. She got it because she knows, as I think many women do, that for many there is no reshaping of the body that’s going to be adequate. I’ve experienced this many times, reaching (or at least nearing) a weight goal and still only seeing the flaws, setting yet another goal toward recapturing my only minimally adolescent body. Continue reading

The Mirror

I’ve come up against a challenge of age lately. It’s not a BIG deal, definitely qualifies as a “first world problem,” but it got me thinking about some stuff that I thought maybe a few of you could relate to. I have reached the point where in order to do something to my face that requires specificity of location (plucking hairs, putting on eye makeup, applying ointment to something that needs healing), I need my specs. I just can’t see the details that close without them. Problem is the specs get in the way of a majority of the procedures I would need to use the mirror for in the first place. “Ahhhh. THAT’s why those mirrors are around,” you know those magnification mirrors. Sometimes they light up so you can have some kind of notion of how sunlight or club light will affect whatever look you’re working on, but let’s face it, it’s mostly about the magnification. And those mirrors aren’t just sold to people my age (or my ocular age which is a bit higher) and older; all kinds of people are okay with looking up real close at imperfections on their faces so they can do whatever they need to do to feel good about how they present themselves.

Slide1It got me to wondering how we can be SO okay with looking with such great scrutiny and intensity at our faces and then refuse to look at the rest of us in the mirror at all. And notice I say “we” here, because this is something I totally used to do, avoid eye to body contact. The objection here is: “But you look great,” and that objection has absolutely nothing to do with what goes on in MY head. For years I did not actually look at myself in a mirror that showed more than my face while undressed because the critic in my head was OUT OF CONTROL. What other people saw was of little interest to me. It was what SHE saw, that mean girl in my head, that had worn me down over time. Better to avoid her altogether by not looking and getting dressed early in the shower to rest of world progression. Continue reading

A Letter to My Body

Dear Body,

I want to write you a love letter, but I know what you need first is an apology or my compliments will sound shallow and empty. So, there we are. I’m not good at saying it, but I really am sorry.

Slide1I’m so sorry for all of the times I had unkind thoughts about you. I’m so sorry for all of the times I blamed you for the way my clothes fit. I’m so sorry for all of the times I wouldn’t even look at you in the mirror. I’m more sorry for only seeing flaws when I did look. I’m so sorry for treating you like a traitor, an enemy, something to fight and work against. I’m so sorry for not loving you. I’m sorry for the times I decided to eat next to nothing. I’m sorry for the times I decided to eat mostly junk. I’m sorry for deciding that you weren’t worthy of better treatment than both. I’m sorry for not using you better, for either neglecting or deciding to run marathons starting now. Continue reading

Marines United With Us

As usual this week has been chock full of news and things I could choose to get outraged about. I’m trying a new thing where I try to limit and focus my outrage like a laser beam rather than just letting it splatter all over the place ineffectually… So for me there are two big stories this week, that ended up being a little too similar for my liking. The two stories? Marines United and International Women’s Day.

HOW can they be the same at all, you might wonder, a story about men in uniform sexually harassing and humiliating their female counterparts online and the day of a general strike for women’s labor? Pretty much seem like polar opposites, don’t they, that is until we all get to comment on them, until we get to participate with the news, until we become part of the story. Continue reading

Nobody Cares

I realize that title sounds like we’re leading into a “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me…” moment, but there is no worm eating going on over here. Bear with me because I think where we’re going is important.

IMG_4336Last week I had the serious good fortune to be in Italy. Now, there’s a lot to say about Italy, but what I want to say today was also prompted by a friend of mine who just decided, in spite of her vociferous inner demons, to buy and wear a bikini to her local pool. She was pretty freaked out and decided that her fear was her best indicator that this was exactly what she ought to do. She did it, took a picture, and posted it on Facebook.

I’m guessing that the bikini to one piece ratio at her local pool in the U.S. (East Coast if that makes a difference, which now that I’m thinking about it, it might) is VERY different from said ratio in Italy. In Italy, I was one of maybe 4 women on the beach in a one piece, and two of the other 3 were great grandmothers. The other, perhaps another American. I lay there in my one piece which seemed kind of sassy when I tried it on, and felt like a total prude. I saw every shape go by and all of them were playing, at the beach, in their bikinis. Bikinis of all description, covering varying (within a relatively small range) amounts of flesh. The rest of the flesh? Out there, sunning, swimming, building sand castles, applying sunscreen, napping. Perfectly normal. Continue reading