I’m not trendy.
By the time pointy shoes are out I’m just realizing they were in. If my jeans fit, I’m wearing them – skinny, fatty or otherwise. I don’t buy things that are waxed, especially clothing; I wax things, like a surfboard. I own a pair of camouflage pants. Bought them nearly two years ago. In the juniors section of Nordstrom because the tall dude is all about the camo and spotted them while we were shopping for a gift. I tried them on because I thought for sure they wouldn’t fit, of course. And, of course, they did. He insisted. I acquiesced.
They’ve been my favorite pair of pants ever since. Now camo is so in. I was not ahead of my time, but probably just not willing to engage in conversations about needs versus wants with a then 1st grader through the dressing room door.
The on-trend black velvet moto jacket I wore last week? My first ‘designer’ purchase…24 years ago. I only stopped wearing it when I was pregnant. If it weren’t for being pregnant I would still own and wear shoes that I purchased when marriage was for other people, not me. I don’t know how my Mom had eight children and isn’t today walking around on the equivalent of alpine skis. My feet grew enough with each pregnancy to render my shoe wardrobe useless.
Somebody hit the jackpot at the Salvation Army that day.
I don’t know why I never fell under the spell of the double fashion issues of Vogue.
Strike that. I know exactly why.
I never felt thin enough. Or fashionable enough. Or worthy.
I wasn’t the kind of girl who could wear those clothes and not look like I was wearing an outfit I stole out of some cooler person’s closet.
I had red hair when the phrase ‘red-headed step-child’ was in and my red hair wasn’t even out because it was never in to begin with.
I had my cute moments growing up. My Aunt Awesome nicknamed me Sparkle Plenty, the name of a doll, because my hair sparkled. A handful of freckles were tossed on my face like someone rolled the dice and all the spots scattered on impact. My baby fat never fully grew up until after college.
Blame beer. And toasted bagels with cream cheese AND melted Muenster. Open-faced. Which means twice the cheese.
The nerve of me…
After graduation I found my groove. I worked out regularly because I loved it. I went swimming, hiking and cycling. Sure, there were some weekends spent in the Hamptons when the most exercise I got was crawling to the beach after waking up…at 3PM. But by my early 20s I wanted to be physically fit. I had a lust for life, the planet and fresh experiences to keep me learning and growing.
And I wanted the boys to think I was hot.
My two serious relationships, my only two serious relationships, before meeting my former spouse were with men who were very active. J hiked and biked and chose to vacation in the wilderness, camping for weeks at a time and catching his food instead of hitting the sand and ordering fare from a cabana boy. S was a marathoner, weight lifter, and could get drunk on one glass of wine.
J was a vegetarian. S avoided processed food before we called it ‘processed’.
Both loved their bodies. Both loved my willingness to crawl up mountains and camp on frozen rivers, explore abandoned buildings with headlamps and finish trail runs in the dark.
Both thought I was beautiful – spirit and body.
So why did I marry a bar fly who didn’t work out and thought my breasts weren’t firm enough?
Because I have something to learn about loving my body. I love my soul. But my body…it needs more love and less scrutiny.
You already know I fell for what looked shiny to me in that moment. While my chosen activities up until the time I met my former spouse were consistent with the things I was passionate about, my Ego didn’t let me add it up, didn’t let me see the mismatch and how it would ultimately affect our relationship. How it would affect me as a person.
I bailed on my path, a path I had just fully embraced, and took a 15-year detour, leaving behind the trails for the fairy tale. I don’t regret it. For reasons more than just the births of the dudes. I swung hard in one direction on my pendulum. Had I not traveled so far in that direction I wouldn’t have swung back all the way over here.
I am so in love with over here.
Some of our most important relationships in life inspire us. And others highlight our wounds, poking them to make them hurt enough so we’ll pay attention, ultimately inspiring us – if we chose to let them.
For fifteen years my former spouse barely paid attention to my body. My self-esteem plummeted. Our relationship suffered. But this hang-up didn’t start with him. I had always been hyper critical of my appearance. He came along to give me a chance to experience pure love before I checked out on this life.
Thank you, my former spouse.
(As I’ve said before, I firmly believe that as souls we agree to play certain roles to fulfill needs as we move in and out of the lives of others. His role in my life was a complicated one, not pretty. I don’t blame him, I’m not angry and I have no regrets. I thank him. I feel this relationship has played out exactly as it was intended for us both. The lessons for me I explore here, with the support and love from you.)
So, now I have a 47-year-old body that birthed an 8 and 6 year old (who took full advantage of 40 weeks to grow), leaving me with a road map of stretch marks. On the positive side, my swimming has given me a breast lift so I’m okay with those. Even if they’re not hard. (Firm breasts are silicone breasts. Nothing wrong with them. But if someone says your breasts aren’t firm enough, remind them that breasts are composed of fatty tissue. Fatty. Not firm.) I’m also Swedish. That means I can plow a field. Haul a net full of fish out of the water. Fell a tree and turn it into firewood while making meatballs.
In other words, I am not dainty.
But I am fit. And healthy. And fearless. And I’m not nearly done with this project.
So when am I going to give myself a break and not be so critical of my skin so white it looks like it might glow in the dark? Not exactly a slimming hue. When will I no longer wish I had soft, small feet? When will I see an hourglass figure and not too-big hips, too-long a torso, legs not long enough? When will I finally stop hearing that insult – Your breasts aren’t firm enough?
When I stop focusing on the shiny, to include in my own mirror.
And when I fully realize that anyone who would only be attracted to me if I was tan and my bum cheeks fit into the palms of their hands with room to spare, my breasts pointed to the stars and my feet pedicured themselves, is someone that only cares about the shiny.
Been there. Know the ending.
Somewhere out there in the internets I came across an article about Photoshop and how it is challenging our sanity, contributing to body-hate, eating disorders and throwing gasoline on the fire of our obsession with looks and image and eternal youth. The trends of fashion and body collude in ad after Photoshopped ad to lead us to believe that we aren’t normal, they are. Chillingly thin women are slimmed down even more with the stroke of a brush moved by a mouse.
Thigh gap is an actual term now.
In this article they compared a before and after shot of a woman nearly naked. One au natural. The other Photoshopped.
I gasped with relief.
They don’t actually LOOK like that! I’m not expected to LOOK like that!
I felt like I had been given permission to love my body as it is when I saw those pictures. Kind of. (A lifetime of programming isn’t going to be Photoshopped away with one article.)
All my life I’ve bucked the trends because I didn’t feel worthy of them – cool enough to participate. I’ve been trained to believe that there is only one beautiful. With red hair and freckles and upper thighs that touched, I wasn’t it.
A lifetime before I met my former spouse I would fall asleep wishing to wake up in the 1600s wearing a dress that was far more splendid than the form it hid, in a period in time when women were celebrated for being womanly, with hips and alabaster skin. In the media today there are women who bring the curves, for sure. There is no longer one kind of beautiful. Even with this progress I still look in the mirror each morning and think, Oh, better tack on another 15 minutes in the pool today.
Just the act of writing this out has left me so relieved!
Every day people will judge me. In this particular case, an ‘I don’t care’ attitude is so perfect. Instead, I should care if I am judging me. Because every moment I spend judging me is one less moment I spend loving me. Loving the fact that I don’t chase trends because I’m comfortable with my own style. Anointed by no one and all mine.
Huge progress, kittens. But the real test? That would involve a man.
For that to happen I would need to meet someone who sees magic because he isn’t blinded by the shiny.
One miraculous moment at a time. I want to savor this growth spurt.