I have been ruminating over this post by CJane for a while now. It is a discussion on the body as a thing of beauty, an incomparable gift, that we (women, mostly) look at as imperfect, substandard, or undesirable. CJane had posted earlier about cosmetic surgery, and asked what her readers would change if they could. In the new post, she asked what her readers loved about their bodies.
Many of the comments, including mine, were about things like hands, feet, collarbones, things that are inherently lean. I’ve thought about this, and I find it interesting. Not many of the female commenters loved their abdominal region, though the ones who did loved it for its ability to produce a child, not for its appearance.
I left a comment:
I love my feet. I have long spaghetti toes, and the baby toe is curled on its side. Dainty little ankles, and lots of tendons poking out all over. I also have great cheekbones. When I turned 30, I lost all the baby roundness of my face, and now I almost look sophisticated, with my hollow cheeks, pointy chin, and exotic, far-apart alien eyes. At least in pictures.
My body is a machine. I can run for an hour, and hold a baby for two or three. Not at the same time. I am a milk truck. I feed a whole person just from what my body makes each day. It’s funny to think my baby is made of milk.
I have these cute little rolls on my back.
I think the parable of the talents applies not only to abilities, but to other attributes, as well, including physical ones. Maybe we knew what we’d get, and maybe we didn’t. I don’t think we cared. I believe that the prospect of birth and life was far greater than any caring we might have ever had about our physical appearance. I think we knew it would be hard, but we wanted it anyway.
I have thought and thought about this idea of liking parts of my body. I read all the other comments, and tried to imagine liking, nay, loving each of those body parts. I’ve hated certain aspects of my physique since I was a teenager. I remember being asked, as a Freshman in High School, if there was anything about my body that I liked. I replied that I liked my hands, “because that’s the only part of me that isn’t fat.” I was 13, and, looking back, not fat. My self-image has always been negative. I’ve dreamed of all the things I would change if I had the chance. By “change,” I mean surgery. I’ve always wanted breast-reduction surgery. I’ve wished I could have the floppy, stretch-mark scarred belly removed, and a flat 6-pack put in its place. I would have my hips contoured to be smooth, instead of bumpy.
For the past week or so, my feelings have been changing. I noticed it for the first time when, on a drive on the freeway, I saw a billboard advertising “non-surgical” reshaping, with a picture of a perfect hourglass shaped woman. I found myself thinking how sad it would be if everyone received this treatment. We would all be identical. There would be no variation, no interesting diversity. Nothing to set us apart from the crowd.
Thinking about this brought me to the realization that I no longer want to have anything on my body changed. My body is so unique. My shape is the only one like it in the world. I love my body because it’s strong and able, but I also love it because it is beautiful.