After writing about how transformed the mirror became when looking at my spectacular face on my last blog, I came upon thoughts that were hiding in the corners of my mind. Feelings of aversion to my aging, sagging skin. I have a friend who lost 100 pounds to my 40 pound weight loss; she decided that she was going to wear no sleeves this summer even though her upper arms were imprinted with her weight loss and her age. She was going to think of it as her badge of honor instead of a badge of shame. I had to admit that I was definitely not going to wear sleeveless clothes.
I have been taught through so much osmosis to dislike any part of my body that doesn’t compare to the perfection of models, stars and people who are famous for being famous! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love beauty. Men and women who I perceive as beautiful are captivating. But when did I start believing that I myself – a perfectly normal human specimen – had to be perfect to be acceptable, even to myself?
I grew up as a sex object. As a very young child I was a sex object to my uncle, a quiet much-loved man who was huge in my eyes, at 6’ 3” tall. I was small and undeveloped physically and mentally but I was overdeveloped in terms of my sexuality. I am stung by stories of young women around the world who are married off before they are 13 years old. If I believe I am a sexual object in my developing years, then my body and my sexuality are my instruments. I was an average child who saw my value by how I could manipulate another’s blatant base sexual instinct. The misuse of my body in exchange for safety, love and acceptance.
Those many years ago I became aware that I no longer wanted to value myself only as a sexual being. I desired to find a spiritual and intellectual value to my life in my 20s and the struggle was put to bed much later on when I married my most trustworthy husband who loved all of me. There was no drama related to mistrust or loyalty or commitment. I slowly became trustworthy. There was a cushion of peace and acceptance; it was a solid place from where I evaluated my thoughts and beliefs about love, acceptance, family and simply being.
I am not a sexual object. I am not here only for anyone’s sexual gratification, not even my own. I am here to be myself and through lots of internal work, recovery, therapy and coaching, I have an amazing life! I value each day, each mistake and each little shame that is trying to communicate a message.
My huffing and puffing about the mirror is deflated and cracked when I admit I won’t wear a bathing suit, won’t wear no-sleeve dresses or shirts. It is an unconscious belief that I should not subject you to seeing an aged women’s body. Aren’t we repulsed by old bodies? Don’t we dismiss old bodies?
The other day I was listening to my favorite radio station, Entertainment Weekly. A guest said he was at a fan event when a 65 year old woman approached him. His thought – “What does she want? Resuscitation?” She is spirited and he is surprised. I’ve heard Samantha from Sex and the City referred to as old and dried up. Really, resuscitation at 65? Old and dried up at 45?
As a society we have no idea who our older women are and how deep our spirits reach. We have raised and loved children, nurtured husbands and mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and fed the soil of society by working, writing books, making scientific discoveries and achieving record breaking feats in sports.
We have come a long way baby, but in regards to sexism, racism, ageism and homophobia, we are in the thick of it and just scratching the surface.
Are we ready to participate and teach another generation that loving ourselves deeply and taking no shit is evolution?
Society’s progress will include us; we will own our leadership by owning our own souls. Not in isolation or with righteous indignation – but with ownership of love, respect and support. To give it, to ask for it, and finally, to expect it.
I went to a party the other day and wore my summer dress. I didn’t wear a cover up. Such a small act with such a big impact on my thoughts. My own liberation – it is about time, don’t you think?
What small act might you do today to achieve the liberation of your mind?