In the world we live in, increasingly and terrifyingly so, there is a panoply of things we could, should, and probably always do, worry of. We worry about the environment, we worry about the spread of contagious diseases, we worry about the divide between people continuing to grow, the gulf that separates us becoming canyon-like and sinking. So many different elements to worry of, so many existential threats that constantly bombard us, why, WHY I ask, do we spend so much time, energy, and life, worrying about the bodies we live in, the skin that wraps us?
I am lucky enough to live with, to love, to worship the very ground of, a woman who is one of the strongest, most wonderful, most fiercely feminine human beings I’ve ever met. I was raised by a mother who built houses for a living, literally from the concrete foundation to the paint on the walls, I grew up with two sisters and no brothers, I grew up surrounded for 5 months of my life every single year until I was 17 with anywhere from 12 to 20 girlfriends, and wives, of professional baseball players. I am the closest thing I’ve ever seen in real life to Mel Gibson’s character in “What Women Want” as a child. All this is to say something that probably sounds extremely no-brainer, but nevertheless needs to be said: Every single one of these beautiful, amazing, stunning women wrestled almost daily with some form of body dysmorphia. Every single one of these women was being told on a daily basis that they needed to look a certain way, reach a certain ideal, and sacrifice to do so. Now, before any of you get up in arms, I need to say this as well: I know men suffer from these same things, I know there are body ideals that men are being told they need to reach for (see also: Thor in the Marvel movies, Zac Efron in Baywatch, and many, many others) but the fact is, the reality is, women have been the target of unfair body standards much, much longer than men, and right now, dammit, I’m talking about the women I have known, loved, and witnessed deal with precisely this. Anyway, glad I cleared that up…onward.
I see this worry, I see the consequences of it, and I am simultaneously brokenhearted and outraged. I see my own wife battle with insecurities (sorry my love, not throwing you under the bus here, you’re just my favorite shining example of someone who doesn’t trust the beauty within them) on a daily basis, I see her get stronger and healthier working out and lifting weights beside me, and for awhile I saw her worry she’d get ‘too bulky’ or ‘too big’ and lose sight of the narrative that strength in body and mind were the point, not the visual created. I have seen her worry about the natural occurrences that come with having two perfect children in her past, the shift in skin, the lines where she grew to hold human beings inside her, I have seen her worry initially about her hair that was greying, and all the while, I have fallen more and more in love, been more and more attracted, and felt baffled for the disconnect in what we both saw when we looked into the mirror at her. I saw a strong body that has created life, I saw legs that carry her up Scottish mountains, arms that carry the weight of the world, I saw skin that has grown and shrank and been rained upon by Irish storms, somehow, she didn’t. I am fascinated with this disconnect, while being saddened by it. How can two see such different things?
I remember growing up with Slim Fast shakes in the fridge, confused as my own mother was stronger than most of my friend’s fathers. I remember watching sisters order salads at pizza joints, though I knew they were starving. I remember all those baseball wives passing on the nachos and burritos and cracker jacks at all those summertime baseball games, I remember the slim cigarettes they swore kept hunger at bay. I have such visceral memories of women trying all they knew to become what they saw in magazines, on movie screens, and never understanding. What I want to know is, how can I help foster a new culture? How can I help shift the narrative, how can I help support not just body positivity, but this new and amazing movement of body neutrality? Of accepting, and loving our bodies as they are in their current states, proud of them for what they DO, not how they look. This movement is how you Feel, how you Think, what you do with these pieces that we all share. I love this.
Sometimes, we don’t need mantras or self-love talk, sometimes we just need to be, and to just stop worrying altogether how we’re seen. We’re all human, we’re all doing our best, we’re all the same parts, and it’s time we remember this. We worry of our skin, the shape of our bodies, and we neglect so much in the process.
All this to say, we’re perfect, as is. You’re perfect, as is. I am here, sponge-like and ready to learn from all of you, how I can best help this movement, how I can support it for women and men alike. Teach me, I am yours.
Worry of our skin
and the shape of our bodies,
wonder how we’re seen.
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