Like most women, I struggle with body acceptance. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thinking about, obsessing over or self-loathing about my weight and how I appear in the eyes of others. I’m not really happy with my size. I have to admit, though, I do love myself. I adore me, what I’m about, how I view the world, my artfulness, and my tendency to think in flowers. I do, however, find it difficult to smile down on my ever expanding waistline and blossoming butt. If I could change three things about me it would be to grow a longer chin, stretch out my neck and have thin upper arms. I could deal with the rest.
Trying to find a positive, healthy way to look at my external self has gotten a little easier since I read Anne Lamott’s book Travelling Mercies…Some Thoughts on Faith. Her chapter entitled The Aunties was like a breath of fresh air. It brought tears to my eyes and made me realize I am being much too hard on myself. She discusses the way she has dealt with her own body image struggles (she hates her butt and thighs and the nappy hair she was born with) as a middle aged woman and while on vacation at the beach with her son she adopts a loving, whimsical way of looking at her imperfections and ultimately accepting herself that is both funny and enlightening.
Anne on applying makeup to cover her aging face:
I wasn’t thinking that I looked awful and wanted to look like someone else; that is the point at which you can come dangerously close to female impersonation. I just remembered that sometimes you start with the outside and you get it right. You tend to your spirit through the body. It’s polishing the healthy young skin of that girl who was there just a moment ago, who still lives inside. It’s saying that sometimes maybe one looks a little pale and wan and wants to shine a little light on oneself. Then, when you’re in that honoring place, it’s almost like makeup becomes a form of light, just as on those days when a little cloud cover makes you really notice the sun’s rays that come slanting through. Maybe the key is simply a wry fondness for the thing you’re slapping this stuff onto, instead of a desire to disguise; so it’s not that you’re wearing a coat of paint, but a mantilla.
If you haven’t read Travelling Mercies, I suggest you take a copy out at your library, cozy up on the sofa and read it. Anne is a genuine person whom I believe speaks the truth. She says it the way it is and I embrace that.
Anne implied something that resonated within me and enabled me to think for the first time that despite the fact that I am not a thin woman and I have issues and struggles with my body, I should love my physical self and embrace my body because it is the very thing that houses my spirit-my lovely, perfect spirit that is the essence of who I really am.