But what I am having a *really* hard time with lately is having spent so many years not appreciating what I *did* have. I look in the mirror at my face & body, and see all the fine lines that come from aging, the crease-lines on my forehead from frowning when concentrating, the dark circles and bags under my eyes from lack of sleep & worry, the sagging flesh of my breasts, stomach, thighs, back, neck... that wrinkle up weird, and jiggle funny, now since I've lost so much weight...
Sure, I may weigh what I did when I was 17, but I no longer have that body. My flesh is no longer taut and smoothly rounded; it's like an old balloon someone let the air out of, lumpy & wrinkled in weird places. And I feel so disappointed. I don't know what I expected, I guess I knew there'd be some loose skin if I lost a lot of weight, but I assumed if I lost it as slow as I have been, that it would shrink up, and I could look nicer than I did when I was fat. And I guess I do when I cover myself up in clothes. If I can find clothes that fit this lumpy irregular body correctly.
But that's not the point... what I am trying to remember - to internalize - starts with this:
It's with you from birth, carrying you from place to place, experiencing the world around you as best as it can. And that old saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," is true. The media portrays what we as a society feel is the best & most attractive, and plastic surgery may be fast becoming just a rite of passage in some circles, and the news is telling us we're all getting too fat & unhealthy, and we learn to criticize the people we see who are less than perfect with our friends & acquaintances, and those voices & images get etched in our brains and don't shut up.
But we are the loudest "beholder" of our own beautiful bodies. We judge ourselves, compare our bodies to those around us & in the media, and we pick ourselves apart, chipping away at any sense of self-love that we have. We try all kinds of things: all sorts of make-up and beauty products, diet aids, fad diets, exercise regimens, surgery... just to make ourselves look like this *perfect* beautiful image of ourselves in our head. But guess what?
And I generally try not to use that word, perfect, because it tends to be so, well, imperfect... but we are. Perfect. Just the way we are. Right now. Lumpy. Fat. Wrinkled. Bony. Pale. Tanned. Freckled. Frizzy hair. Straight hair. Near-sighted, far-sighted, or with 20/20 vision. Tall or short. Broad shouldered. Broad hipped. Willowy or Rubenesque. Old or young. Healthy or failing. Even if you feel like you're the wrong gender, your body is perfect; that's about the gender acceptance, not the genitals. Our bodies are perfect.
I am choosing to accept that it is perfect, just the way it is. As is. Perfect. And yours is too.
I wanted to end this post right there with a picture. I had in mind, a tastefully done nude photo (nothing really showing); so I searched flickr and deviantART for something to represent the heart of what I am feeling, and although I found some wonderful art and photos (check out this piece and this collection), I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. So I thought, "Well, how about one of myself?" I mean, if my body is so perfect, then posting an artistic nude photo shouldn't bother me - I love my body as is - and I shouldn't be bothered by any criticisms of it, right?
Well truthfully, I'm not there yet. I'm still struggling with accepting that my body is perfect and wonderful and worthy of loving just as it is. And that's ok. For now.