PROLOGUE: I wrote this post quite some time ago and it has been rattling around my brain and my desktop for many weeks. The women reproduced here are women that, in my humble opinion and from my age standpoint, represent women in the media AND IN REAL LIFE that we can idolize with ease. I sense an appealing reality in them, but that’s just me.
POST HOLIDAY REVELATION
This female body image stuff goes waaaaay back into the art world. But isn't she beautiful? For real. Beautiful.
The Golden Globe Awards were/was on tonight and it triggered a shit storm of thoughts in my head that triggered something else that released another shit storm of connections in my head about women and myself. Here’s what came up:
In these post-holiday months I have been lamenting the ingestion of copious amounts of cheese, which is a shame, because I LOVE cheese and enjoyed every holiday moment of eating it (thanks to an obliging sister). I would like to be able to celebrate the beauteous-ness that is cheese rather than feeling bad about it now.
Jessica, I'm sorry you felt that you had to alter yourself for anyone. Baryshnikov, Sam Shepard, Hollywood, anyone. You are beautiful.
The thing is, the perfect storm of weight gain has possessed me in the last 1.5 years. I have always been in shape and have not worried about weight and at 46, that is something different from most women I know. That said, in my previous years I moved my ass every single day in a myriad of ways – running, soccer, gymnastics, dance, more running, hiking, sporadic tennis, and yet more running. All that motion kept me lean along with good eating habits my mother instilled in me from the get-go.
Wonderful at every age and an actress to emulate.
Flash forward to now.; the frequent sedentariness of my job, the often crippling energy depletion due to hormonal changes, the active metabolism being replaced with lead in my veins that is then weighed down by gravity making exercise seem like running through water, a relationship break-up that made me deeply sad and hunker down with bread and cheese for comfort. It all added up to the perfect storm of putting 15 pounds on a body that has never had to work at losing weight. But I want to now. It’s all I think about. Mainly because none of my clothes fit. I realize this sounds shallow and trite, but maybe I just need to write about it and then I can move on to dealing with some different issues.
She always strikes me as the no bullshit and no facades type.
It is quite physically uncomfortable to go to work in my current work clothes. Purchasing a new work wardrobe is out of the question as I have spent quite some time collecting beautiful vintage dresses and other clothes that cannot and should not be replaced, not to mention the expense of a whole new set of clothes. Hence, my obsession to lose weight.
A woman to relate to.
Running along side this clothing-fitting obsession is my daily dipping into popular culture via people magazine.com or Perez Hilton.com. These sites drop me into the world of women who make up a tiny percentage of the real world and yet are more visible that any others. I have found myself thinking, If Angelina Jolie’s arms are that thin on film, how effing thin must she be in real life? I think my arms are bigger than her thighs! (I read in a trashy magazine at the doctor’s office that she is 5′ 8″ and weighs 97 lbs. Totally incomprehensible.) Yeah, stupid, shallow, WTF thoughts like that are taking up space in my brain. Not good.
While raising my daughter (and when I was raised as a daughter) fashion magazines were not an option. Access to that media was both not a desire nor sought after. Our every day worlds offered enough information about who we were and are supposed to be as women. Our feminine standards were set by grandmothers, great aunts, mothers, and older sisters. “Celebrity” women were not on our radar. When thinking of my grandmothers, and great aunts I remember them as SO beautiful! Really. Physically beautiful as well as deeply kind, loving.
My Great Aunt Helen: never altered, always honest.
Irony of ironies, my daughter has sashayed into the modeling world, beautiful and intelligent. She purposefully walked onto that runway of body distortion only after being raised in a Tee-Pee on a mountain, living with Native Americans on a reservation, learning how to make a fire without any matches, dancing ballet, tumbling in gymnastics, breaking a finger in soccer, excelling at Capoeira, learning Portuguese, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies, certified in and assisting with permaculture certification courses in Kenya, and being the kindest person I know.
My darling daughter.
Latest news from her world is that after London Fashion week (where at 5’ 10” and a size four she had the largest dress size and at age 23 was the oldest girl) she is done with runway modeling. She was fortunate and navigated that lion’s den of neurosis unscathed. I pity the fourteen year old GIRLS in Marc Jacob’s show he used to model WOMEN’S clothes. Hopefully, their parents wake up and snatch them back to reality, because even though they may say it, modeling for Marc Jacob’s can not be their dream at age fourteen. The disconnect in that whole world is mind boggling.
Magic Meryl helped a struggling teenage me realize that a more prominent nose could be a beautiful thing.
Living in Southern California, I am privy by proximity, to Hollywood culture. It has invaded my hometown and I have let it invade my daily visible input. Shame on me. In the midst of my perfect storm of negativity thought such as “I am fat and no man will ever love me unless I lose this 15 pounds” which, while I know it is bullshit, still haunts my waking hours. But only when I compare myself to a non-realistic idol.
Laura Dern has always looked to me like she could be another one of my sisters.
Recently, I had a night out with my niece: my 26 year old, perfect, beautiful niece, who ironically works in a plastic surgeons office as she waits for med-school acceptance. In the midst of general women’s conversation she voiced her desire to maybe get “… a little lip injection. Just a little.”
I was horrified. This beautiful, radiant girl wanted to alter her face, alter her genuine divinity because …. Why? I could only surmise for some of the same reasons I wanted to alter myself – continual exposure to women and images altering themselves to meet an unnamed ideal. I admonished her and made her swear never to do it, and she agreed.
Me and my most perfect niece.
I made a pact with my friends years ago that I would not alter myself, but that was before my perfect storm of mid-life physical imperfections. I fantasize about a non-invasive machine that could suck out all the cold, unwanted fat and dream of my 20 or even 40 year-old body.
Since I am not married, I have no husband saying “I love you no matter what” and kid myself into thinking that if I did, I would be more accepting of myself right now. And I might, but regardless… I try to remember to talk to myself as I would a beautiful best friend, gorgeous niece, or luminous daughter:
“You are beautiful as you are. You are healthy. You are aware and taking care of yourself. You are perfect. Just as you are.”
Rock on, pretty ladies.
PS: And now, on to discussing more the important problems of the world.