This is something I have fought my whole life: the acceptance of the body. I have come to a point where I accept that I will never look like anyone would want me to. In all my healing work, this is one area where I struggle the most and I continue to work on. And I think it is because this is the area that I am to help others with more than anything and so I think a lot about it. I have been developing this post for a while. As I reach the beginning of my sixth decade, one would think the value of appearance would become a moot point. But it does not vanish and I think it probably will not ever in my case. I think in general, most women never give up their concern about appearance. I cannot speak for men as my husband is clearly not representative of the population who is concerned about self-image. HA!
I have gotten to the point now that I hate to check out in the grocery store and will try to find one that does not have magazines. I stare dumfounded at the headlines screaming at the viewer about the possibilities of a summer bikini bod in three short weeks. Or the image of a poor celebrity soul, who may have at an inopportune moment to bend over as a shutter clicked. Who are we to judge? And why? Why do we care so much to have others conform into an image so that we can accept them? I can hear voices saying; well I certainly do not do that. We ALL do that. We ALL have this expectation of an acceptable image which for the greater American population includes a pleasant face and a trim body. If this were not true, why would American media spend so much time and effort to support this defined criteria. Not all populations of the world would agree to it. But this is where I live and work.
This is not meant to be a whine fest either. I have always been one who fights for the underdog. Let me clarify that I do not think someone who has a different exterior IS an underdog, only that I champion the cause for acceptance of the soul there in, no matter the vessel carrying the soul. I know I am not alone in this as there are many who would do something to ban media that encourages women to seek an unnatural exterior to the point of illness. I have several friends who have undergone surgery in an attempt to carve a trimmer figure. In two cases, the women now are chronically ill. One is so sick they have done three surgeries to try and repair damage caused by her gastric bypass. She was not fat in the first place, but her self-esteem was so thwarted, she felt she needed to do something drastic. What has happened now is she cannot eat and so she is emaciated to the point of serious poor health. She has missed a ton of work. She, in my opinion looks like someone who came out of a prison camp. I sat next to her in a meeting and she was complaining about her hair and how ugly it was. My heart broke for her because it was not her body that needed help, but her opinion about herself. She would never be happy with the way she looks because her mind’s eye has painted such an ugly view. Another friend also went under the knife and lost a ton of weight years ago. She now has put back all and more of the weight an on top of it, is severely anemic and depressed. This is a talented smart wonderful lady who is in a hopeless state of sadness over something so meaningless. She is still this beautiful person who teaches and helps so many. Her spiral downward makes me angry as she is now starting to isolate herself from her friends.
I have been told by the medical profession that I am hopeless. One doctor upon meeting me wanted to rush me down to schedule bypass surgery immediately. Whoa, Jack! Let me explain something. I have been heavy my whole life. I was born chunky and roly-poly. Somewhere around five that became not so cute but it was baby-fat. Then, as a pre-teen, a womanly shape started to emerge and yet, not trim. Then the explanation was that I was not fully done refining my shape. As a young woman, I was large or what they call “thick” but that was not what I heard and saw. And that is the point of this post. I heard nothing wonderful about my size and appearance as a girl growing up. My parents and their family were all slim and tiny. My Mom was a size zero as a young bride. She was also 4’9” to my 5’6”. Matter of fact, I was the largest woman born into my family for generations, with the next runner up being my cousin. She was so shapely, she was an underwear model. She would not be able to do that by today’s standards unless it was for a large size vendor. She is and was gorgeous though. Being the largest woman in the family was fodder to a pack of hungry jackals whose creed was to feed or become the food. I was served up often.
I am working on self-acceptance in many arenas. I sit with my lady friends and listen to our conversations which if food is out on the table, someone will self-defecate. Love that word. It means to literally shit on oneself. We do that as women in attempt to beat everyone else to the punch. I can put out the most delicious food for consumption, but until we have had a round of beating up ourselves and explaining how we will go on a diet soon, we cannot indulge in the pleasure of eating. I have stopped doing that and if there is something that someone has made for consumption and delight, I will have some, with no explanation. I have already seen this acceptance with my group of very close friends who now have stopped the litany of excuses why they cannot enjoy something. They just do.
I know in my heart that I want to be part of changing the culture of acceptance for women, well, for that fact, everyone. The first place is to start with me. The work includes no more self-defecating. I struggle with that as I have made bashing myself an art. It is the continuation of the voices that were placed in my head. I literally do a healing technique that I visualize pulling strands of “crap” out of my ears and throwing them away. This was taught to me by my guide and friend, Silke, who discovered bands of black tar attached to my heart and stemming from my ears. (This is all in a vision she saw when she was working on me) It means that I have so many bad thoughts still in my soul about things I have heard that until I remove them, I will not be able to hear the joyous things I need to hear. She is right. I was packed completely and I would never heal until I gave myself room (permission) to hear positive and wonderful things. I am a work in progress. I encourage anyone who struggles with not being able to hear the good things people say about them or spend time beating themselves up to think about what is blocking their ears and remove it. Once you start to clear the channels, you have to start putting in good thoughts and hearing and seeing the true beauty will all have.
One of the nicest gifts I recently received was from my dearest friend for my birthday. She wrote little cards, each with a lovely statement of what she loves about me and how it has influenced her. It is so sweet and I cherish the moment I spend opening a new card to read each morning. This is one of those gifts of a lifetime and I will treasure the cards forever. Her cards are a simple validation given without explanation. It just is. How wonderful. I am thinking that if we did that for our self each day how much healing would occur. When you are feeling lovely, it shows. And that will do more to get rid of the ugliness we capitalize on now. In my imagination, I think of a future where no one will be judged on their appearance, but accepted by the gilded vibration they give off.
In an exercise to document my journey, I have occasionally played with the camera on my computer. I have captured a record of myself in the past ten months. What I saw yesterday was a transformation. Not of any great weight lost or done with any cosmetic repair. But I saw just a sense of relief that has changed my appearance enough that it was kind of startling to me. As I said, I have been thinking about this physical acceptance for a long time. So as part of my healing, I am going to post the image. I starred at this morning and began to edit it in Photoshop. Then I thought that really defeats the exercise. So with all the clutter and mess that the image has, here it is. This is me….and just me. And that is ok.
I have to add that it took me a while to hit publish………….