I have not always been comfortable with my body. I’m too thick in the thighs, and my behind is in a different time zone. The rest of my family has a metabolism most would deem unnaturally fast, yet I was the lucky one.
It is getting more and more difficult to maintain my dress size. As I see it, I have a choice to make. I can embrace my curves and learn to love my body, or I can work my ass off to work my ass off.
I think we know each other well enough to imagine my decision. I am still going to work at staying fit, but I’m going to try and stress less about what my momma gave me.
How did I become so enlightened? Salsa. Enjoying lots of Salsa. Not the tomato and garlic kind, the sexy Latin dancing kind.
My friends and I took a Salsa class. We spent three hours moving and shaking and relaxing all that we usually try to get into control with undergarments that flatten and smooth as much as they roll and stick to our dress linings. I was self-conscious at first when my junk was still moving west while I was attempting to travel east until I wasn’t. Latin women enjoy praise for their curves. In many countries that is the case. I should have been born in Cuba. For the curves and the beaches. Oh yeah, dictatorship. Let me think… I could live with that if it means I’d love myself more and be on a beach.
I’m going to lament a little about the North American beauty standard touting that rail thin equals beautiful. I bet you can figure out (figure… ha) where I stand on the issue. Plus size models have been renamed real size models, and that is a baby step. Real models are still an anomaly in ads, and companies pat themselves on the back when they hire a real model to capitalise on additional media attention. Why do they have to point out how righteous they are to be right? I would love to see a world where the media embraces real people’s dimensions by just hiring real people. No fanfare, no hero cookie, and no photoshop. I’m pretty sure we can understand what an ad for jeans is trying to sell us even if the model is a size twelve.
Maybe the media is playing to a woman’s curse though? Women will always want what we don’t have. Straight hair wants curly; boy’s hips would prefer girl’s hips; a Canadian girl wants to live in Cuba. Since us real people wish we weren’t so real sometimes, the media might be guiding the way to where we subconsciously want to be? I just caught myself trying to justify the media’s exploitation of the insanely thin. See how easy that was?
I find myself on a beach this week. I know, it’s a tough life. I’m bikini’d up and all out there. I look at all the bodies around me and realise we have one thing in common. We have bodies. Some are big, some small, some pear, some apple shaped bodies. I’m not self-conscious here when I have the fewest amount of clothes on I would ever have in public.
I can’t, feasibly, walk around the cold of Canada in my swimwear, but I can do things that remind me to love my body the way it is by treating it right. Get to a salsa class and appreciate the movement of my body and what it can do (or in the case of Salsa, what it was unable to do). Stay away from that packaged food that tastes delicious but delivers nothing of value to my body. I need to practice not comparing me to anything else because it shouldn’t matter.
A change in the definition of beauty starts with each of us. We all need to love ourselves, our shapes, our flaws, and strengths. We need to accept others as they are because they struggle with their perceived imperfections too. To recognise the beauty of all bodies, the generation that thought Twiggy was perfect needs to show the next generation the way. The media will be fighting us as we try, but it is worth the effort.
Instead of screaming at myself to love what I have which hasn’t been working, I remind myself how well I treat my body with regular exercise and healthy eating choices. I know it won’t subdue the beast I have inside, but I hope it becomes an earworm for my life. One I wish I could adopt instead of the earworm of “Despacito” that has permanently taken up residence in my non-Spanish speaking brain.
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Tip: Getting down and getting comfortable with who you are means you are getting it right.
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