Sunday, May 20, 2012

I remember being at a party after the Katy Perry song "I Kissed a Girl" first came out. I was across the bonfire listening to a woman rant about how disgusting the song was as my girls and I surreptiously exchanged amused glances (we all thought the song was super catchy!) I couldn't help but think who wouldn't want to kiss a girl? I mean, let's face it, women are gorgeous. Simply because I happen to adore men doesn't make me blind. It doesn't negate the fact that women are lovely creatures and I can totally get why guys (and some gals) go gaga over us ladies. Soft lips, beautiful curves, loving hearts... what's not to like?

I've always tried to make my girls aware that what you see in magazines or advertisements isn't actually the real deal. I thought that they understood that, but recently Jordan came across an article online showing before/after photos from magazine shoots. More like reality versus make believe. They were aghast at the crazy amount of work done to these photos to create a seemingly 'perfect' speciman. Cellulite abounded, as did wide hips, big bottoms, small breasts and wrinkles. Wow, when it came down to it these models of perfection were simply and beautifully... women. Perfectly 'flawed' women.

I have spent my life costumed in the exact opposite of what society would deem perfect. How tall am I? Well, the short answer to that is 4 feet and 11 3/4 inches. Nope, I never even hit that 5 foot mark. However, my short stature never bothered me. In fact, boys found me 'cute' in my high school years, and since I was shamefully boy crazy this suited me just fine. Taylor has towered over me since she was about 12, and now even Riley Mae is sneaking past, effortlessly. Teeny tiny breasts came as part of the package, but once again I have never pined for anything other than what I have. The abuse that they endured while nursing three babies has made them deeply worthy of my love and adoration. No long legs that go on for miles, mine extend about... 2 feet before they hit a plump bottom. Scott takes one long, leisurely stride for every frantic three of mine. Short stubby fingers accompany me wherever I go. I have a giant nose. :)

I'm not sure when I started to buy into the stereotypes that society was trying to force feed me, but as soon as I realized what was happening I took steps to remedy that. I think the biggest change came as a result of my inner metamorphosis. Once I truly loved who I was inside it became hard to judge and criticize the vehicle that contains all this delicious goodness. Instead I found myself embracing and feeling deep gratitude for all that my body did for me, each day, every minute. It really is amazing once you think about it. Really, what's a dimple compared to a heart that works tirelessly, ceaselessly?

Why oh why have we done this to women? (Yes, I'm sure men suffer too.) I looked at the cover to Ebony magazine yesterday and the two women looked more like dolls than human beings. It's sad that we can't love who we are and embrace that. Instead we'll create fairy tales that seem to support this mythical woman of perfection. Give me a pimple, or a stretch mark, or a round belly any day. 

Last night the girls and I had a chat. Riley suggested that we go around the room and list one thing about ourselves that we loved. Just one??? I was thrilled to hear body parts being flung around the room quicker than I could register them ~ hands, feet, hair, eyebrows, eyes, legs, arms, nose, ears... it seems that there wasn't a body part that they disliked. I can say that as a mom/teacher that was the most beautiful thing I could have heard. If they can walk forward in their lives not only accepting, but embracing, who they are than I have done an admirable job.

I have managed to change the world, in the form of three balanced and beautiful girls. Pretty stinkin' cool. But I'm not done yet.

This is nothing new, we've all heard it before. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, right? But have you truly taken the time to look around you and appreciate all the different sizes and shapes that make up our clan of women? Have you truly made the effort to love and cherish the costume that you wear?  Perhaps this sounds hokey to you. Me? I've come to a point and place in my journey where it isn't enough just to get through this life, I have to do what my heart screams I must. I must make changes when I can, where I can, even if it takes the form of one small and encouraging word. One heartfelt compliment. One moment of mindfulness.

Start small, find one thing about  your body that you love, and wouldn't change if given the choice. Focus all of your energy and gratitude there. When your stinky ego mind tries to wander back to the negative (and it will), bring it firmly back to what you love. Over and over. You hate your toes, but what about your hair? Your hands are ugly, but what about your shoulders? Can't find anything because you're "broken"? Your legs don't work, but do your arms? Your eyes don't work, but do your ears? I don't care if it's your fingernails, just love them. Truly and deeply cherish them. Then search some more, and add in another feature and another until you've tipped the scales in favor of 'love' versus 'hate'. Don't rush yourself, take your time. You may be working against a lifetime of accumulated junk.

The change didn't come overnight for me, but with patience and diligence I underwent a massive shift in  perspective. My body felt this love and appreciation and begin to work with me. Changes will happen, I know, I've watched my body respond to my loving attention and gratitude. It's a pretty cool thing. :) 

I've got a perfect body,
But sometimes I forget
I've got a perfect body
'Cause my eyelashes catch my sweat,
Yes, they do, they doooo!
~ Regina Spektor
"Folding Chair"

I love that song because it really is that simple. I've got a perfect body because my heart beats, my blood pumps, my lungs fill, my legs walk, my fingers bend, and yes, because my eyelashes catch my sweat. Yes, they do. :)

So walk proud ladies, shoulders back and head high. You are beautiful and gorgeous and sexy and irresistible exactly as you are. Once we first find that in ourselves, the world can't help but notice. :)

Thank you to all of the breathtaking women (you) who make this world a beautiful place.

Peace & Blessings ~ Melinda