Wednesday, April 29, 2009

31 Flavors

the body of a woman
Photo by Amma Maw

This post is not about ice cream. Not directly anyway. It's about women, and our bodies, and our relationships with them. It's about the fact that multiple women, ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties have started conversations with me in the past few weeks about how they've gained weight and how unhappy they are about it.

This is a topic I have touched on before. And, in one way of another, it's been one I've been having my whole life. The degree to which I obsessed about my weight when I was a teenager is just sad. And now I'm stuck is this weird limbo, alternating between wishing various parts of my body away and the recognition of just how ok my body is. More than ok, really. I mean, I can walk and dance and make love and rock my child to sleep. And what more do we need a body for? And yet.

Without exception, the women who have brought up the subject of their weight to me lately are beautiful. They too have bodies that work, but they are also physically lovely. They have different shapes and sizes, different curves and soft places, and they all look great. And, even more than that, they are amazing people. Mothers, students, artists, academics. They are intelligent, creative, nurturing — so much more than the sum of their parts. And yet.

How much time have we lost punishing ourselves? Dieting, bingeing, suffering, opting out. And for what?

Please hear me: you are lovely. Look at the women around you. Not the ones in the movies and the magazines. Look at the women next to you in line, on the bus, at your child's school. Be as kind and gentle to yourself as you would be to them. Try experiencing your body for what it does for you and yours — the strength in your back and arms when you lift a child, the power of your legs as you walk up that hill. The hip onto which you can sling a kid or a sack of groceries (or both!).

Look, this is so easy for me to say and so much harder to live every day. But I know in my very bones that this is the truth, my truth. And I know how deeply sorry I will be as an old woman if I look back and see that I wasted not just the years of my youth, but these wiser years, when I knew better. Please join me.

And if you know a woman who is struggling, send her this link. Or better yet, call her up and tell her how lovely she is. It will mean the world.


Leslie said...

Hey girl, this is a fabulous post! Honest, loving and so very wise. Your words are a gentle reminder to step back and see ourselves through the same kind, forgiving eyes we see our sisters with.

Leslie said...
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Unknown said...

wow julie, you just made me cry. the truth is amazing that way. beautifully said. thank you. --mandy

mary ann said...

Julie - thank you so much for allowing my photo to accompany your lovely words. m.a.