I want to thank you so much for being here, whether you’ve been reading my blog for years or just stopped by. I’m so grateful for this incredible community of smart, funny, thoughtful readers, and I love your comments so, so much. This year, I am fortunate to celebrate Christmas with my family. We laughed, we cried, we ate great food. I loved having my grandmothers with us and to see how much fun they had. “Be glad you are healthy, young and pretty, ” one grandmother said. “Being old and sick is no fun,” the other one added.
Of course, they are right. Getting older is perpetually complicated, especially when our bodies don’t feel as comfortable and cozy as they once did. It is difficult to watch a body shift and stretch and increase in capacity and size. As a woman, it can be even trickier to embrace who we are physically, to celebrate our unique aspects rather than compare them, and to be grateful for a fully functional form.
I will turn 39 next year. Wow! Time flies. Unlike many of my friends, I am pretty lucky and have not undergone major surgery, had a significant health diagnosis or experienced any physical trauma. Instead, my body has worn and grown in all of the usual, subtle ways. I may be wiser (ha!) now than when I was 29, but I have also accrued a few wrinkles. My body has simply changed. I also cannot (or rather don’t want) eat chips and drink wine every night anymore. Hangovers also felt a lot different in my 20s.
While the idea of self-acceptance is straightforward, the context is not. I don’t know if it is just me but I feel that today’s culture is too loud and confusing when it comes to defining what is physically desirable. I have wisened up and intuitively understand that reaching towards the unrealistic goals of beauty seen in the media is not a good use of my time or energy because comparing my body to others and looking at photoshopped models thinking that this is the norm is just ridiculous.
While my grandmothers spoke about the past they also mentioned ideas and goals based on what they used to look like, what they used to weigh, what size they used to wear and the evolving seasons of their life. I remember one day in my early 20s that I found myself in a fitting room with a rack full of jeans and summer dresses, hopeful that they would fit and cover areas of my body that I did not like. I remember this poorly-lit-fitting room and my very critical eye. I felt too big! My legs were too big! My skin was not glowing! I also remember leaving the fitting-room frustrated and sad. This scene has happened periodically over the years, but with growing irony until it just stopped.
While my grandmothers spoke, it became clear to me that no matter what age I am, it is perpetually tempting to look back, envious of my pre-marriage, pre-baby, pre-divorce, pre-job change and pre-whatnot.”I wish I would still look like that, ” my grandmother said while she showed me a picture of her on the wall. “You are beautiful the way you are, Oma,” I said.
See your body as a strong, healthy vessel. I believe that my current body is precious and healthy and beautiful as it is, rather than comparing it to previous iterations and images. I show compassion to myself and where my body is right now. Weight loss and gain can be normal, cellulite is not a curse, and hormonal changes are a powerful force within the body’s system. I have the power to elicit change. I can help myself to grow stronger and healthier, lose weight, or gain weight and that this is a privilege. Also, my friends, many changes take time as does anything worth embracing.
And, instead of seeing my body as personal billboards for all of the things that I am not, maybe it is smarter to look at it for what it truly is: a physical representation of the life I have been given, the life I have birthed, the places I have seen, the experiences I have had, and the memories that I have accrued.
If my body is my most tangible testimony of a life wholly-lived, well, then I’m choosing to celebrate the hell out of mine. Want to join me? I’ll bring some chips.