I thought I was perfect until I was eleven or twelve. Well, maybe not perfect. I knew my bangs always flipped up on one side no matter how straight my mom cut them, and one day my gramma told me they were awful. And I knew sometimes I couldn't run as fast as I wanted to. But from my vantage point, looking out from my eyes at the world full of wonder, and living in my imagination I knew I was probably a princess. I know - the princess thing is over done right now with pink and sparkles. I didn't have even the tiniest princess like possession. I just thought maybe I would fly someday, or find magic. My body and I moved through time and space completely free-of-self-consciousness.
When I was eleven, or twelve, my girlfriend brought me a message from "the boys" who we had started hanging out with. "You can't be part of the group, Marilyn. The boys don't want you. They said you are too flat." Too flat. Hmmm. Because of my body I lost my girlfriend group and the new group with boys. Suddenly I started thinking of myself from the outside in. I stood watching my body instead of being inside my body enjoying the life it engaged in. That was the first rip in the fabric of my peace with myself.
I learned other things later. I don't have thin ankles. I have big feet. I have a bit butt. My hands are big. Notice how 'big' is the dominant adjective. Big is not pretty. Big is ugly.
And beyond that - my hair brown, like mouse brown. Cow brown. Poo brown. And it is poker straight. Except for where it curls, on the left side above my ear and in the three - count them! - three 'cow lick swirls'.
And even though I prayed, I stayed pretty much flat. Raisins on a breadboard kind of flat. Sigh. I really prayed in faith. I prayed claiming and believing. Many mornings I woke to grave disappointment, cracks in my faith at a tender age.
When I was 24 and had given birth four times, during a pap test I asked the doctor if I was normal. "Normal?" she said, surprised. "Yes, could you just tell me if I am normal?" She laughed. I felt embarassed but it had taken all my courage to ask her. "You are normal." I was glad, sort of.
And at 52 I was reading in National Geographic and started to cry. National Geographic! Can you imagine? I was looking at five black skinned women sitting in a circle around a fire. Five women with no clothes on, mostly. And there I was, or rather, a woman who was built just like me! I started crying and my husband said, "What on earth are you crying for?" I answered, "I see myself. There is a woman like me. She looks normal."
This morning when I was getting dressed I actually stood in front of a full length mirror. BEFORE 'everything' was on. I turned one way and another. I said, "Okay. This is a good body. I am grateful for this body. It is healthy and does tons of work for me and enables me to love. Thank-you for this body." And then I got dressed.
I have decided to make friends with my body. I have never, ever, felt satisfied. I have thin friends who insist on saying how fat they are. I have friends who cannot take a compliment even if it absolutely true. I have friends who literally hate their bodies. Women of faith, women of age. Let's take it back. Let's move back into our bodies and stop looking from the outside. Women arise! This has got to stop. We are cursing ourselves and damning the best gift of our lives.