I’ve decided to give up.
I’ve decided to give up hating myself and my body for things that at some point became my standard of “value” or “good” or “attractive.” I’m giving all that up. No, I’m not planning on sitting on the couch mainlining chocolate and Fritos and washing it all down with soda and hot cocoa. But I am planning on smiling at myself in the mirror more and not wasting another minute on comparing myself with someone else who might not actually even exist.
I read the other day something along the lines of “if we stopped hating ourselves, think of all the businesses that would go under.” Imagine that, will you? Just how many industries exist solely to convince you that you are not good enough the way you are.
At about the same time, I read a heart-felt blog post by a writer I admire. It was heart-wrenchingly honest about hating her body. I’ve written similar posts in the past. I’ve written words that were like ripping off all the Bandaids and baring all my skin, scars, and soul. Words about hating, absolutely hating myself.
But I’m done with that.
Good lord, how I’d love to get all those years of my life back.
This isn’t some Lenten thing, although it does happen to be Lent and lots of folks give up stuff for Lent. No, I’m giving up hating my body because this is the only body I get. I’m going to keep doing what I can do make this body as strong and healthy as it can be, but I’m going to forgive it for not looking like someone else. Because this is what 46 going on 47 looks and feels like for me, and I’m damned glad to have the chance to be me.
I’m 5’2″ (well, more like 5’1.25″ but whatever) and it has never really bothered me to be short. I don’t talk about it in euphemisms or pine for pants in longer lengths. But I have always wished I was thinner. Even when I was thin, I wanted to be thinner.
The list of things I was genetically predisposed to be, like green-eyed, or short waisted, or short arms (like T-Rex short, seriously!) or so many other things has never really bothered me. Because even from a young age, I knew that those variables were out of my control. So the one thing I could control, my weight, was the thing I focused on. And, of course, I always compared myself to people who were manufactured and enhanced in ways to make me want to do whatever it took to look more like them and less like myself.
At age 46, that all seems ridiculous.
But at age 5 and 8 and 11 and 17 and 26, it all seemed normal to accept what nearly every person and message on media was saying to me. “Do this and you’ll be _____!” How many of us have been sucker-punched down that rabbit hole of lies and consumerism? I would guess that most men and women I know have spent way too much time thinking that if they could change “x” about themselves, then they would be happy. It is way too easy to list all the things we don’t like about ourselves than what we do like.
The truth is, as I look forward to my 50s, I want to see myself for who I am instead of who I am not. It is a blessing to have gotten this old and this much wiser about bodies. Because the truth is, our bodies are not all of who we are. They are only part of the equation.
We are more than our ailments or descriptions. Yes, those are part of our package, but they are only part.
So today, as I got out of the shower, I waited to put on my robe. Instead I looked at my 46 year old body – the only body I have, and I appreciated it for what it is. I’m here, and I’ve done many, many things. And my body proves that.
Standing there, buck-naked and a bit chilly, I smiled. And I noticed that when I smile at the woman in the mirror, the girl in there smiles back.
I’ve spent most of the first half of my life unhappy because I compared myself to someone I thought should exist. I plan on spending the rest of my life happy to be the me that actually does exist.