So, it turns out I needn’t ever worry about topics to share with you.
I’ve got late-night TV.
I’m up at o’dark hundred with the cat and the computer and I find this cable show, “How to Look Good Naked.”
I feel a bit saddened by the “featured” woman tonight who needs to make peace with the way her body looks. She is so unbelievably vital, and fit, and beautiful – oh, and she’s twenty-six.
Remember when you were in high school and you thought you were ugly, or fat, or just plain invisible? When you look back at those pictures now, aren’t you just a bit mystified that you could have thought such a thing?
My husband and I needed our passports last week, and, as we waited in line to go through the screening process, he looked through my passport portfolio and found a picture of me at twenty-four inside.
In his very loud voice, he goes, “Is THAT you??????”
I glanced at the picture. I remember at the time it was taken I thought I looked like “Miss All That.” But looking at the picture, I had to laugh at my bad self.
I had all this big henna-tinted 80’s hair and TONS of eye makeup. Basically, I looked all Dynasty-Trash Girl.
Though I was standing there giggling about it with My Italian, secretly, I was itching to take a wash cloth to my own twenty-four year old face.
I feel a bit sad when I think back on all my “style phases.” There was such a struggle to “find” my look. I made the same mistake the young woman in the How to Look Good Naked show was making. I let others decide.
If I was Barbie, I had schizophrenic fashion sense based on which “Ken” I was dating.
There was Musician Jennifer. Lawyer Jennifer. “Don’t Worry be Happy” Party Jen. Then, there was Cowgirl Jenny, and IBM Big Blue Jennifer. I remember Glamour Shots Jen and later there was Bridal Jennifer and Mini-Van Jen.
Will the real Jennifer Boykin please stand up?
During the course of the show last night, it was revealed that one of the reasons the young woman didn’t like herself is because she had let her boyfriend dominate her fashion expression.
He cut her hair. She wore his clothes. As the show unfolded, you could see him becoming increasingly uncomfortable as this woman’s true beauty was revealed to herself. Though he had a smile on his face, I’m not sure he liked the transformation.
And now we get to the heart of it.
My experience is that a woman’s true beauty is revealed to herself as she begins to “own” more and more of her true nature without regard to what others think is best for her.
The more you “stand in your own power” as my friend Kadena Tate says, the more beautiful we become. And, conversely, the more we hide behind a façade that is based on what others think is best for us, the more invisible we become to ourselves.
Taken just a little further, a woman’s inability to own and accept herself manifests as eating disorders, self-mutilation, cosmetic enhancements, and increasingly more dangerous “procedures” to achieve some ideal of appearance that is either impossible or just plain unattractive.
Not long ago, there was a news story of a woman who was permanently disfigured because she wanted a JLo booty and all she could afford was some guy with a hypodermic needle in his living room.
He injected cement into her butt.
Lots of it.
The pictures were horrendous.
Making peace with our bodies, deciding to claim our beauty – as we look right at this moment — is such an important topic, not just for women our age, but for the younger women we are bringing along. If you were sitting in a sacred Wisdom Circle (or at the coffee shop) with girls and women of all ages, what would you tell them about loving their bodies?
I’ll start – Dearest Younger Members of Our Tribe, Please learn to love your body. And don’t wait thirty years to do it. When I was your age, I was unkind to myself, and there was no reason to be.
This body has weathered many storms. It has delivered four children to this world, and buried one. One day at a time, decade after decade, this body has risen every morning to face the challenges before it.
It has worked with people, fed people, loved people, served people, and now, created beautiful visions with people. These beautiful legs have carried me through my journey to you and this moment.
I honor my body just as it is today. I celebrate what my body has survived and I love that it has brought me to you.
Photo: Flickr, Enokson