Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Body I Earned

Mom-O-Matic blogged a month or so ago about shame & blame and how she knows she will not drop the extra pounds until she comes to term with being shamed publicly.

Then last night I found myself scrutinizing pictures of "Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong" on the covers of various tabloids. I watched a piece on Discovery channel about airbrushing, photography, and how none of the celebs and models look like that in person.

We have a cultural dichotomy between what is real and what is not in terms of bodies. Thousands of men and women nationwide are fighting the shame and blame games from both embarrassing past experiences and just the flat fact that they are fat in a society that worships thinness.

Having grown up in close promixity to professional dancers, and spending the better part of my teenage years watching them rehearse in studio (and wishing I had a body like that) I learned young that 500 situps a day does not give an already uuber-fit person the tummy texture we call six-pack abs--surgery does. A close friend growing up ditched a career as a professional gymnast because she refused to eat the required maximum lunch of half an apple, and the required maximum breakfast of a piece of toast and a tsp of jelly. I've seen dancers lose jobs over 8 ounces of extra weight, and not get auditions because of their weight on their printed resume be listed as 2 lbs above the cut-regardless of bone structure, or talent. They are told to skip more meals and come back when they aren't so fat. Jobs in chorus lines are given to girls who match down to height, weight, bone structure, and lipstick color. Once they match your physique, only then do they consider your talent.

I am not fat by any means. I weigh 2 pounds more than I did when my oldest child was conceived and 10 lbs more than my all-time-low adult weight. I eat whatever I want and as much as I want. I've retired from feeling that my goodness and wholeness as a person is contingent on being a size 2. I can tell you truthfully that in the dance world I would be considered a good 30 lbs overweight and my arms are too short, my torso too long, and my shapely legs are way too white to parade on stage.

Yesterday I saw a woman that in earlier months I would have compared myself to and felt the burn of shame at my body. I would have envied her long, tanned legs, tiny waist, large breasts and small circumference of her rib cage. But I don't envy her at all. From spending time around extremely thin and fit people as a teenager who worship their bodies and what they can do, I know she isn't real. She bought her body-her breasts, her rippled abs, hair extensions, and even her suntan.

I earned my shapely breasts that remained buxom after pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sure they aren't as perky as they could be with a little silicone, but they are beautiful and a hospital nurse deemed them "perfectly shaped" for latching on a hungry infant. My torso is textured, not with liposuction induced ripples with but zebra like stretch marks where my daughter liked to poke out her bottom, and the place where my son's feet liked to press-my stomach markings are badges of honor. Her arms are long and very thin, my biceps are large and strong from hoisting toddlers and grocery bags. I doubt she could drag a 400 lb dresser to the other side of the room without assistance like I did yesterday. I can't wear high heels, and this woman wears nothing but; however, I have a college degree and a promising career track-one that regards my looks with a grain of salt but considers the aptitude of my mind and abilities foremost.

She probably turns heads with her shape and heavy eyeliner. I'm sure she has a lot of sexual attention from men. I know her well enough to know that that is what she's all about. With or without a man in my life I know I would be OK, I'm not so sure she would. So no, I'm not ashamed of the body I earned, I'm proud of it.


Anonymous said...

You have shown me that a person can be confident in being proud of who they really are!

All natural women are the hottest!

I enjoyed your post!

mumple said...


I am overweight, and probably will be for the rest of my un natural life. I'm not obese by any stretch, but I'm not a flat tummy kind of girl--never was.

Big deal. Even my doc doesn't stress me on the weight--she tells me that I need to move more (she calls it cardio; I call it insane), but as far as being overweight, I don't look it, and the creaks and groans from my bones have more to do with playing sports in my younger days and standing on concrete for 20-30 hours every week.

My husband reacts to my body the way you see men react to *hotties* on TV and in the movies.

And with them skinny girls, you gotta be careful--you might break 'em.

Lotta said...

Good for you for feeling great about your body!

MommyK said...

It goes both ways. Just because a person is thin doesn't automatically mean they have an eating disorder. Back in high school, I was 5 foot seven and barely over a hundred pounds. One of the guys called me "Stick Boy" because he said I had the figure of a prepubescent boy. It hurt. A lot. I couldn't change my shape anymore than someone with wide hips and short legs could. That guy would probably drop his jaw if he saw me now, after two babies and breastfeeding, I am certainly curvier than I was at age 15.

I have my own issues with body image and weight, although I know I shouldn't.

But since having a daughter, I'm really trying to focus on being positive about my body and what it can do. With this body, I carried and birthed and breastfed two babies. Sure, I'd like that toned tummy, but I want my children more.