Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Aggressive Body Love

Like many women I struggle with body image.  I have times I look in the mirror and I don't like that I see silver hairs on my head and tiny lines at the corner of my eyes.  I don't like the soft spots that have appeared or the cellulite that dimples my thighs.

I look in the mirror and my emotions can run from resignation to sadness to outright disgust.  It does not take long for my mind to start berating me on how I should have used more sunscreen, quit smoking sooner, had fewer sips of wine and worked out more.  Because the fact that I don't look 20 at 45 must somehow be my fault.

I have spent more than one evening researching Botox, calculating how many treatments I could afford to get in one year and, with my limited budget, just what spots would I have done.  The answer is always my forehead because those worry lines between my eyes age me more than anything.

And then I get angry.  I become angry first at myself for succumbing to the idea the my self-worth is somehow directly related to how youthful I look.  And then I add a bit of shame because as a woman facing the prospect of being "of a certain age" I should be trying my best to model the behavior of self acceptance for those young women soon to face that same mirror.  And then I become angry that we live in a culture in which women over 40 are practically invisible; where we are ignored into silence.

Unless of course by some chance we manage, by knife, needle, luck or circumstance, to look "good for our age."  Those of us who escape the adjective of old are rewarded with praise for not falling prey to time and our DNA, as though youth is an accomplishment.

And aging, a failing of character.

I once again walk to the mirror where my eyes see nothing different, but my heart, my gut screams at me to not accept this vision of myself that my culture has laid upon me.

I look in the mirror and my eyes see nothing different, but I refuse to let that matter.

I will look in the mirror and eyes see nothing different, but I will love what I see if only to be contrary to the rules you have placed upon me.   I will set my own standard just to spite you.

I look in the mirror and my eyes see nothing different but I swear to myself that I will choose my own measurement for beautiful.

And I will tell everyone woman I meet that she is beautiful too.  And it will be the truth.

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