Monday, March 30, 2009

Being Beautiful

Though I am told that I don't really qualify as "fat" or even "chubby," I support the size-acceptance movement. I believe that it is possible to be healthy at any size, skinny, fat, or in between, and that we owe it to ourselves to love, accept, and care for our bodies. Too often, though, women are told that our bodies are wrong. Hearing a message often enough (and o, how bombarded we are with this particular message!) can make even the hardiest among us doubt herself. The question for myself was not, "Can I be beautiful?" (i.e., lose or gain weight or otherwise change my body to fit some ideal), but "May I be beautiful?"

Since the beginning of treatment for hyperthyroidism in 2005, I have gained about twenty pounds. During the fag-end of the Bad Old Days, when I had not learned that loving myself was not only OK, but of utmost necessity, I cried when I could no longer zip my size 12 jeans (my "skinny" jeans) or button up my sleek, genuine U.S. Navy pants. The emotional choppiness born of a sudden relocation under bad circumstances and stormy hormones seeking a new equilibrium made it harder to bear my weight gain. In my head, I knew it was a sign of health. In my heart, in my feelings, I cowered before the blaring, jeering voice of internalized body-hatred.

Eventually, with help from my doctor, my therapist, my mother and my friends, I realized that what I had had before, as a thinner person, wasn't anything like a real, healthy life. Still, in my saddest moments, when I forgot I didn't really hate myself anymore, I wished my sickness back so that I could be thinner. A few minutes spent skimming the diaries I had kept in Tennessee were enough to snap me out of it.

One day, in the bathroom at my mother's house, where I was living after moving back to Michigan, dressed in jeans and a bra, I found myself admiring the curve of my hip and how it flowed inwards to form my waist. I ran my hands up and down my sides, from ribs to thighs. I liked the way my body felt; it was larger, yes, but it filled my size 14 jeans and my new, larger bra beautifully. It was soft and sleek and beautifully shaped. I laid my hands gently on my now-rounder belly and closed my eyes against grateful tears. I gave myself permission to see my beauty, to marvel at it, to love it, and revel in it.

Do you have permission? What would it take for you to grant it to yourself?


Julie Dorn said...

You are so fabulous. I'm still trying to give myself comes in spurts, but I'll get there!

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