I have a draft saved in my blogs somewhere. My response to "comedian" Nicole Arbour on her weird, one-woman body shaming skit(?). But that doesn't seem relevant anymore, so I'm going to let it go.
Tonight, I came across an article entitled "What Moms Bodies REALLY Look Like", or something along those lines. It was on CNN and was proudly subtitled with lines like "Uncensored Beauty" and "Bravery". And I looked at these woman. Not one looked exactly like another. But they all looked pretty much like women. I wasn't surprised to see stretch marks, or cellulite. I wasn't surprised to see fat rolls. Or flat tummies, or round lines, or sharp edges. None of them were more beautiful or ugly than another...I just saw women.
As I read some of the captions below the pictures, I read really interesting opinions these women had of themselves-- that they had grown so much in their courage because they no longer wished to erase their stretch marks. That a C-section scar had been a fate worse than death for some, but how they had learned to embrace it. I know all of these were meant to shine a light on the evolution a woman experiences in her body when a body shifts from being of purpose to just one person (ourselves), and is used as a vessel for another life...or, not even used to create a child, but used more, over time, proving itself over and over again of its capability and worth. But really, what these statements did do, was not "inspire" me to be brave in my own imperfections, but rather make me wonder why we even see them in the first place. Why- as both women and men- are we so preprogrammed to search ourselves for flaws rather than for miracles?
If you're reading this, you're alive (Congrats!!). If you're alive, your body is an effing work of FREAKING art right now. You- yes you!- are a miracle. "Don't forget to breathe!"- We never say that to one another, because our body just takes care of it. Our lungs breathe in and filter air for us all day long, our heart beats, pumping blood to our whole bodies. We carry things, and complete tasks. We hold children and loved ones gently. We make love. We run fast, or walk slow. Because we are alive, we are living miracles.
And yet, we learn to view ourselves differently because of scars. Or stretch marks. Or fat. What is wrong with us?
For the record, I'm including myself in the "us". I don't walk around all day saying to myself, "WOW! YOU are ah-mazing!!" I walk around envying the flat stomachs of the world. The people who can run fast, or who are extra flexible. The people who have never had a stretch mark. I've never been "that" girl. And when I do it to myself, it's "not harmful". It's being "realistic" and "aware". It's good for me to recognize my shortcomings, right? Highlighting the things I hate or am uncomfortable with will make for a change...won't it?
Looking at these women, I saw my own words about myself too. Words meant to reassure themselves and others: "Seeing these pictures make me feel I'm not alone". Not alone. In your stretch marks. In your fat. In your skin? These are women who have made life. These women are not disabled. They (I) feel damaged because we don't look perfect, and our only solace is in believing we are being shown that other women are also "not perfect". Which is true. Because, no woman is perfect, and that is not a crime. It is not something to apologize for. It is not something to be ashamed of. It is not something to curse. It is not something to feel less valuable because of. And as I, in my eyes FAR more "imperfect" than the women in this article, read their hate-filled attempts at love and triumph for their ownership of their "flaws", I realized how silly it all is that so many of us, with healthy bodies that accomplish so much and work so hard for us, despise ourselves because we don't look like the picture we have in our head for what we should look like.
I had to see it in writing: The words of women like me, under pictures of women with bodies like mine. Or not. But they all see the same imperfectness of their bodies. And reading it, even laced with the forced self acceptance it is, was the bitter pill: There's a difference between accepting ourselves for what we can do or be, and accepting ourselves because of the realization that we cannot live up to our own expectations. Forfeiting self esteem for the sake of not being disappointed in ourselves is not the goal...the goal, I think, is recognizing the wonder that we all are, and while we can't always turn a blind eye from the distractions of our own (normally unreasonable) expectations, we can tell our self conscious to sit down and shut up when it starts telling us that the triviality of how we look naked even comes close to trumping the insanely profound things are imperfect, messy, beautiful bodies can achieve.
For the record, I think that Nicole girl- any valid points aside (not saying I think she does)- is a bully. But she's not the only one. Before we (I) get upset at someone else coming down too hard on other people (me), we have to ask ourselves...are we any better? And if we're not...how can we be. Because, life is hard enough without being our own worst enemies...and we deserve better.