Another damn body image post.

I just got back from our annual trip to Ogunquit, Maine.  As always, it was a nice break from our desk jobs/bills/aging parents/if something goes wrong in the house WE have to fix it reality.

It was not, however, a wholesale break from giving myself a break.  It usually isn’t.

It was one day of waiting until the pool was free of fellow guests so I could go down and swim laps, because I didn’t want anyone to see me in a bathing suit.  It was frantically calculating how much I was “allowed” to eat (if I walk the Marginal Way twice, I can have ice cream).  On vacation.  I did this ON VACATION.

I was on vacation, and I couldn’t get away from myself.

Listen, it’s tiresome.  I know this, but I am hard-wired, to a degree, for self-hatred.  I’ve long since stopped trying to force my body to conform to a standard that is simply not realistic.  At 40, I am too damn tired to keep fighting my genes.  But self-worth as defined by the number on my scale or the tag on my dress is still an issue.

Our bodies are our bodies, and if you’re 5’10” and a size 2 and you’re not killing yourself to look that way, fantastic.  I just wish that – well – you weren’t the standard by which the rest of us are being measured.  I would like mainstream media to acknowledge beauty in all its shapes and sizes.  I would like to see someone who’s – for example – 5’4″ and a size 8.  Or 5’2″ and a size 12.  Or 6’1″ and a 1X.  Whatever.  SOMETHING ELSE PLEASE.  Are we really that difficult to photograph?  To design for?  To LOOK AT?

And so I fought with myself all week in Ogunquit, calling myself things that I would never in a million years call my friends and loved ones.  Until we decided to go to the museum. There, tucked into the corner of the Barn Gallery Associates Wing, were a couple of sketches by Gaston Lachaise. Bellies, thighs, breasts. I walked around the museum, but I kept going back to those sketches. In just a few strokes, there was this palpable reverence for a body that was so similar to my own.

As soon as I got back, I fired up the laptop and absorbed as much as I could about Lachaise. His inspiration was his wife, Isabel.

Isabel would be his lifelong muse.  Her figure was something to be celebrated, adored, immortalized.

And you know, I recognized these sculptures.  It’s not as if I’m not aware of the preponderance of art that is entirely appreciative of women like me.  But this was the first time I really GOT IT.  Gaston thought Isabel was the most beautiful woman alive.  I look in the mirror and see something pretty damn similar, and I think (at my nicest): “You know, you could stand to maybe skip lunch today.”  I won’t even repeat what I tell myself at my worst.

What am I doing?  That up there is BEAUTIFUL.  I am beautiful.  Who CARES what the people at the pool think?

2 thoughts on “Another damn body image post.

  1. This is an awesome post. I get you. I SO get you. I SO get the self loathing. AND the fear of what people will think. It really is time for people {men and women} to just plain stop believing the lies in the advertisements/television/magazines. Not a one of us has the same genetics and not a one of us should strive to look like another of us, but instead strive to be the best us we can be……whatever size or shape that may be. I’m in for the beach with you and Paula 🙂

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