I’m standing in front of the fridge, door open, taking inventory.
I close the fridge. I wander back to the chair where I’m working.
I picture my body when I misbehave with food. I imagine how good I feel when I’m responsible about eating.
These are familiar battles, old arguments, tiresome images I invite or chase away as needed. I conjure a recent photo of Salma Hayek, her curves contrasted with a tiny waist, her voluptuous body that seems to have it all and it goes without saying, her exquisite face.
To me Salma Hayek is the epitome of beauty.
This morning I’m distracted by my skinny jeans. They were loose two weeks ago, and tight over the past few days. I walk to the fridge again and scan. I shut the door and brew more coffee.
Beautiful Bodies, Morning Manifesto
I have Polaroids of my mother and grandmother, lipstick and pearls in place, full skirts accentuating their hips, Playtex bras reshaping their breasts.
They appear in scenes from the 40s and 50s, and in my childhood memories from the 1960s. These were times when a pretty face could be round, thighs more ample, and a woman’s flesh was praised for being soft rather than angular, comforting rather than frail.
I think of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, or the undeniably gorgeous Christina Hendricks. If we hadn’t gotten to know her in her role on Mad Men, would we perceive her in a different light? Does she bash her beautiful body?
I didn’t intend it to be what it became but the words poured out – a plea to myself and to other women, a plea to cease cursing the reflection in the mirror, a plea to admit to wasting years and precious moments, a plea to accept the natural swells of our bodies, a plea to put more store in who we are, what we accomplish, how tenderly we love, how ferociously we protect.
And thus the bargain, the rant, the confession, the incantation, the manifesto – the desire for all of us to proclaim ourselves “the body beautiful” – to set aside obsessions with size, to revere the flesh we joyfully inhabit, to take ourselves back, to own ourselves, to dwell in our moments of pleasure.
Definitions of Beauty
In the middle of the night, I’m watching black and white films from the 1930s. The chorus girls have full thighs, J-Lo hips, arms that are anything but skeletal sticks.
How have our definitions of beauty changed since that time?
As Discovery Health puts it, “thin is in.” Molly Edmonds writes:
Beginning in the late 1800s, the word “diet” started to creep in to our vernacular, and at first, dieting advice was only aimed at men because women were expected to be voluptuous… As the decades went on, a little extra flab became something to be ashamed of, and slender became the figure to strive for… both men and women seek to be thin, sometimes through extreme methods such as disordered eating, unhealthy amounts of exercise and plastic surgery.
I’m thinking of my mother and her lifetime of battles with weight.
I’m thinking of myself and my lifetime of battles with body image.
Ideal Body Type?
I find her stunning. Talented of course, but I’m speaking of beauty, of a womanly body, of pride in how one looks, of knowing that you incite desire, of comfort that I imagine she feels in her skin, though I can’t know if she does.
Don’t some of the world’s most gorgeous women disparage their body parts like the rest of us?
There are times when I’m unselfconscious in my torso and my limbs, moving gracefully, moving strongly, and unaware of anything but how my physical self serves me, accepting of the occasional aches, the pain from injuries, the softening, the slowing, and likewise the speeding up when I’m excited, enthused, engaged in an activity, an intellectual pursuit, a passion.
My ideal body is ultimately the one that keeps me whole and functioning – my body as it is. This imperfect body, my body beautiful.
Image of Salma Hayek, Golden Globes 2013, Bigstockphoto.
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