I feel more confident now, in myself, than I ever have. Is this because I am nearing 40? Is this just what happens with age?
I remember being a tween (probably around 12 years old), feeling like the walk from the bathroom to the swimming pool was some sort of walk of shame. I remember trying to hide the birthmark on my upper right thigh with the palm of my hand, wishing my legs were smaller and less noticeable. Wishing that my…my…everythingwere….different. Because surely no girl should have to live in the body that I inhabited. A body that was, at 12 years old, a woman’s body. I remember getting catcalls from older boys and just wanting to absolutely die, to shrink, to disappear. It was unwanted attention. I thought it was bad, thought I was bad. I wanted to be like those tiny little skinny girls, the ones who were still girls.
Now, more than 25 years later, with 100% more thigh jiggle and overall skin droop, I walk without even a thought. I walk because that is how you get from point A to point B, bathing suit be damned. I’m not getting catcalls anymore (well, from my husband, because–bless him–he happens to still find my aging body attractive). I’m just a woman, a grown woman. A woman comfortable in her own skin.
Do I have my moments? My moments of doubt? Where I become that 12 year old girl again, full of self-doubt and remorse and dread? Sure. Of course.
Do I think my body is “perfect?” (What the hell does that mean, anyway???). Nope, of course not. I try to avoid fashion magazines. I remind myself that those models are mostly 20 years my junior and that they live on lettuce and air and cigarettes. Or that they come from a different genetic stock. I remember what it was like when I weighed just over 100 pounds, after my pancreatic surgery 4 years ago, how my hipbones hurt at night from the pressure of the mattress. How my concaveness scared rather than delighted me. I’d rather be a slightly rounder version of me. The version that is healthy and whole and eats cookies (sometimes too many) and drinks wine and doesn’t obsess over looking exactly SO. I remember what it was like to be 25 and to count calories and to sometimes eat too many and then to throw it up or exercise for hours and hours, a punishment. A punishment for not being perfect. A struggle not worth those tears.
My body is me, but I am not my body. I am more than my body.
My body can do things. My body made babies and fed them. My body got sick and then got better and continues to serve me pretty darn well. My body gets me from here to there and it bends over to pick things up and it lifts things and it twists and accommodates and holds it all up. My body can breathe the air and it can take in deep gulps of water, of life.
I am strong and I am capable and I have my head in the right place, finally.
I still wear a bikini because, well, I find it more comfortable and because I don’t generally like the constriction of swimsuit fabric on my stomach and because I don’t think I have anything to hide. I have been on this earth for 38 years and I hope to be here a while longer and I might as well enjoy it with the warm sun and the sweet breeze tickling my skin.
Do I need to apologize for the space that my body occupies? To I need to apologize for my body’s bumps and lumps and scars and hair and general imperfection?
I am so much more. We are all so much more.