This is a difficult post for me- challenging, but I hope also cleansing. I did some confessing in my Diana post, and I’ve done more personal work since then. A few weeks ago, Christina gave me a heads up that she was drafting a swimwear set, and invited me to test. Me, in a bathing suit. I have only worn a bikini once in my life, while I was pregnant, when I felt “allowed” to be “fat”. This is me 18 days before giving birth, floating along like a fertility goddess, and I felt amazing. But I knew even then that the bikini would go back in the bin and likely never see the light of day. I had reconciled myself years ago that because of my short torso, I would always have a pooch, I would never “look right” in a bikini, and so tankinis and one-pieces would be my only choices. Seriously, that was my thinking. Short torso= poochy belly = no bikini.
For the last 2-3 years, I’ve lived by that. Frankly, despite living only an hour from the coast, I really haven’t been in swimwear much one way or the other. But James loves going to the beach and facing a swimwear test had me seriously evaluating my insecurities. My first thoughts were- OK, 100 squats and 10 minutes of planks every day, and maybe I’ll look OK. Then I realized that, yes, those would be healthy endeavors, and I SHOULD be doing them (and more), but I shouldn’t be making that effort just to save someone else’s eyes from seeing my body in a bikini. So, yeah I did some planks and squats, and even upped my pull-ups game, but I did it on my terms, and I went for strength over leanness (and my measurements didn’t change a single inch).
Ultimately, I recalled a conversation with a friend where she pointed out that women are judged by their negative space. The less space we occupy, physically and socially, the more “feminine” we are deemed to be. Thigh gap? check. Concave abs? Check. Legs crossed because one leg is smaller than two? Check and check. Arms crossed, bags tucked, eyes down. Check, check, and check. When I realized I don’t even have a calf gap most days (thanks Mom for my awesomely strong calves!) I knew that a thigh gap was not for me. And I got more and more frustrated by the idea that I feel encouraged to be less in order to be more.
So today, I present you with my favorite parts in no particular order, because they are part of me, and I love all of me. Each of these elements have history and meaning. I am, indeed, greater than the sum of my parts.
I have a collection of freckles, moles and birthmarks. This is just a smattering, but I love them all. I think I’ve had the one on my ear my whole life, but I just noticed it and the pair on my foot, sometime in the last few years. I’m clearly not very observant… The freckles across my shoulders were earned in the course of 2 summers in my childhood when I got very bad sun poisoning while at the beach with my family. Not just redness, but blisters and peeling. While that’s not a good thing, I know I had fun earning them, and they are my constant reminder to be vigilant in my self care and monitoring. I’ve already had 2 moles removed and another few biopsied.
I have a small collection of deliberate markings as well. I got this ear piercing and the one pictured above while at BYU. The letter of the law then was “two piercings in each ear”, and most had 2 earlobe piercings, or the truly daring had a cartilage piercing. It was important enough to me that I be different, so this was my bold stroke. I removed the earrings for years when the guidance changed to one piercing in each ear, but since my separation more than a year ago I have been working hard to reclaim my self, my person, my body. The earrings went back in, and I have 2 small tattoos now as marks of that inner battle. This fox represents my son- it’s the closest I could get to literally writing him on my heart (without tattooing my boob, which sounded like a terrible idea).
I am littered with scars as well- I think I’ve been running into things, falling down things, having things run into me from the day I was born. I particularly love this scar on my lip because for most of my life I didn’t even notice it. I started wearing lipstick regularly a few years ago and saw it then. I called my mom to ask, “hey, do you know that scar on my lip? How did I get that?” And she REMEMBERED. I am the youngest of 5 daughters. I cannot imagine the number of wounds my mom must have tended over the years, but she remembered that I got this one falling down the concrete stairs when I was trying to keep up with one of my sisters. She remembered that 20, 25 years after it happened. It may seem like a little thing, but it is reminder that my mom loves me, and knows me. She always has, and always will. I hope when James is 30 years old and taking a personal scar inventory, that I will be able to tell him where all his came from.
The hair, ah the hair. It has taken me years to come to terms with this mess on my head. My childhood was filled with nicknames (most not kindly given) and bad haircuts. Through most of my formative years I either looked like a Chia pet, Ronald McDonald, or George Washington. I have cycled through stylists, methods, and products, and finally settled on a routine that works for me (everything Deva). The fact is, I love my curls now. I keep them long enough to throw into a ponytail, but the days that I let them be free are almost always good days. I know a lot of people wish for hair like mine (at least if all the old ladies striking up conversations with me in public restrooms are to be believed), and I am finally happy with the situation on my head.
Lastly, I love my curves. Truly, truly love them. I have it on good authority that I have a glorious bosom. They have inspired profanity and poetry, sometimes at the same time. I’m not shy about them, I love my boobs (thanks again Mom!). Period. My hips have taken me years to grow into, literally. I have stretch marks from hitting puberty too fast, I’m a little squishier than I wish to be, I almost always need to size up in a pattern just to make room. But they are the perfect size and shape for carrying my son. They were perfect when he was a baby, they are perfect now that he’s a toddler, and they’ll continue to be perfect for as long as he lets me carry him. The bigger he gets, the stronger I get, and that’s pretty awesome as well.