A few weeks ago, I wrote about something similar. The change in the seasons, forcing me to find shelter from no, not the heat but from my own body. I used the words "slim" and "fat" a few times. My objective at the time was to locate the "cover-ups" that had been packed away at the end of last summer. This is a new week. I've done some serious thinking during the many hours I have spent luxuriating in the cool caresses of the swimming pool that is one half mile from our home. I love being in the water for so many reasons. Not only is it positively refreshing to the body, but I find it does the same for my soul. I'm reminded of a favorite hymn, one that invites us to "come to the water". Coming to the water, so basic, so refreshing.
O let all who thirst
Let them come to the water
And let all who have nothing
Let them come to the Lord
Without money, without price
Why should you pay the price
Except for the Lord?
It has come as a surprise to me, since returning to the Cape as the parent of "adults" rather than as one of young children, that so many of my friends do not ever, ever go to the beach as we all did when we our children were with us. Why? Because, I'm told, they don't want to be "caught dead" in a swimsuit. And, I'm not exactly talking about mammoth people. I'm talking about women who have lovely bodies, afraid to let their perceived "flaws" be shown. I've even had a friend ask me point blank "do YOU go to the beach and wear a bathing suit?". The tone of her voice implied that she was wondering if I would shame myself in such a way. I'm sure, that as I responded,"why yes, I DO" she conjured up the image of ME in a swimsuit and was aghast. She doesn't. And I do not understand why. She's perfectly lovely in every way and I'm sure she's mistaken about her bathing suit appeal. Another friend, gorgeous in every way, told me just the other day, that she also would not be seen in swim attire, her own body image so bad for so long. Another victory for a former husband who never allowed her to see her great beauty in her own eyes. Body image. Paying the price. I really do understand. All too well.
Body image is one of those things that does not improve with age. We don't outgrow it. We allow it to enter into our thought processes, dictating many of our most important moves, robbing us of pleasures, many that cannot be spoken of here or anywhere. We never see ourselves as others see us, do we? Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad. If only we could. If we could, the procession of people en route to work in Manhattan, for example, might look quite different. Almost every single day, during my commute, I would ask myself "does she know what she looks like in that outfit?". Maybe she did and maybe it was just fine. Just maybe, she was totally happy with herself and not afraid to let the world see that pleasure. Just maybe someone, back at the house said, "you look great today" and that was all she needed to hear. Or, perhaps that lovely faced young woman, her visible body parts covered with tattoos and piercings, never heard those words. Maybe.
Body image. I look down at my hands now, as I am typing and I swear that they belong to someone else. An older woman. A larger woman. Ungroomed. One without as much as a nail clipper or a jar of jewelry cleaner. I have as many body images problems, if not more, than anybody else. But, I have to tell you, It's another hot and humid one so far today and I'm going to get into the swimsuit and I'm going to the water. No one, here, there or anywhere, is going to deprive me of one of life's joys. There isn't a person on Earth with the right to do that.
Think about it. If you're reading this, you are beautiful. Here, there and everywhere. Forever. And, if you have not heard that in a while or in "ever", allow me to share that news with you.