Body Love and a Never Ending Supply of ‘Try’

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A while back I posted a photograph of me at 20, taken by my father. Looking back at the girl I was then, fit, thin, young it’s easy to see how flawed those people were who told me I was ugly, ‘fugly’ (fucking ugly), too fat and thin and tall and whatever. But now, at 50 (day-after-tomorrow is my half-a-hundred birthday!), I look at the recent photograph of myself and feel very little of the fire and acceptance that I feel for the young woman I was at 20. Mostly I look at the photograph above and think, “Ew.” Then I proceed to pick every single piece of me apart, as if I were not a deeply beautiful human being whose external parts are only a small, shallow coating for the all kinds of awesome that I am inside.

It’s difficult, feeling bad about how I look and it really isn’t about how I look but about how I think other people perceive me: old, wrinkly, chubby. It is difficult because I want, more than I want almost anything, for my daughters to look at themselves now and in 10 years and in 40 years, and to believe that they are beautiful and flawless daughters of the Great Divine Mother. I would love for them to feel honored to have those wrinkles and scars and saggy bits, and to accept themselves as they are. It would be so completely wonderful if, at 50, my girls looked at themselves with love.

It’s difficult, both accepting one’s physical self in world that tells us, loudly, that we are not and can never be enough. It is also difficult hoping to send something healthier and happier forward into the next generation but I have a never ending supply of ‘try’.

That is why you see that photograph of me up there. I don’t dislike it any less than when I first looked at it. I asked my husband to take it so that it would contrast directly with the photo of me taken 30 years ago and it is on this blog as an act of power, because no matter that I’m chubby and have wrinkles and no tan, I am a beautiful and flawless daughter of the Great Divine Mother. 

If you are a daughter, so are you.

Addition: I couldn’t find the tome when I was writing but the words of Eavan Boland from her poem, Anna Liffey, say much of what I was aiming for.

“I am sure
The body of an aging woman
Is a memory
And to find a language for it
Is as hard
As weeping and requiring
These birds to cry out as if they could
Recognize their element
Remembered and diminished in
A single tear.”

and also this, from deeper into the poem

“In the end
It will not matter
That I was a woman. I am sure of it.
The body is a source. Nothing more.
There is a time for it. There is a certainty
About the way it seeks its own dissolution.
Consider rivers.
They are always en route to
Their own nothingness. From the first moment
They are going home. And so
When language cannot do it for us,
Cannot make us know love will not diminish us,
There are these phrases
Of the ocean
To console us.
Particular and unafraid of their completions.
In the end
Everything that burdened and distinguished me
Will be lost in this:
I was a voice.”

4 Comments on “Body Love and a Never Ending Supply of ‘Try’

  1. Ok, so probably completely counter to your point/intent:

    I looked at this and said “I wish I was that beautiful. How hthe hell has she had a bazillion kids and has a body that rocks so hard?”

  2. For what it is worth, there are 20 year olds that look like that picture- and it is beautiful. Yes it is different from the incredible pin-up girl picture at 20, and you are certainly a different person. But they really are both beautiful.

  3. This isn’t about how I look. It is about how the world tells us, as women, that we are not enough and it is about accepting that I/we can never be the stupid, fake, asinine ideal. This post isn’t about *me*, it is about ALL WOMEN and how we are trying so hard to jump a hurdle that we can never, ever clear because if it ever looks like we might make it over the top, the guy holding the end lifts it up higher so we crash into it.
    I’m frustrated that this looks like a plea for compliments to so many, when it is not that, in any way or in any intent. It is for YOU and you and you and you, who won’t post pictures of yourselves in a bikini because you don’t see how beautiful you are. And it is also for me, even though I did post a picture, because I still look at my body and feel all of the judgments the world places there even though I don’t want to carry them.

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