Once upon a time, I purchased many, many magazines in a month. I bought just about every ladies' magazine that was on the racks. If it spoke to "ladies interests" (?) I bought it.
My husband *hated* my magazine habit. To him, it was a waste of money. When the economy tanked and we needed to cut the expenditures big time, one of the first things to go were my beloved magazines. I tried for a while to retain my hold on them - I asked for subscriptions for birthdays and went to the library, but gradually, those shiny pages became less important to me. I began to notice that many of the stories were repeated in different magazines. Often, the headlines were virtually the same - 99% dealing with diet, sex or beauty - and sometimes the stories conflicted each other.
Today I took some of my kids to the water park. We have season passes, and it's a tremendous deal for us - it's a clean place to spend a lot of the summer. I wanted to have something to read while there, and didn't want to bring my Kindle, and so I thought maybe I'd stop at a convenience store and pick up a magazine.
Something light and easy to read. Something frivolous. I couldn't find anything I liked and so I went without. I decided to watch people instead.
Last week I read a fantastic post about body image and wearing a bathing suit proudly, no matter your size or shape. The author shared a picture of her older female family members, all of whom were wearing modest bathing suits, smiling and laughing. None of them appeared to be self conscious, ashamed of her body of embarrassed to be photographed.
They just looked - happy. I'll bet they never read a ladies' magazine in their life.
Today, at the water park, I saw lots of bodies. All different shapes, all different sizes - and I was at first embarrassed and ashamed of mine. It's not the tightest. It's not the slimmest. In fact, it's heavier than it was 5 years ago. But it is what it is and this is the body I have - and I'm not buying a new one.I 'm not as heavy as I once was, and I'm not in bad shape, I kept teling myself. Get over yourself already.
Luckily, a kiddo of mine FREAKED out and took my attention off the size of my booty.
I saw women, both large and tiny, wearing bikinis in bodies that showed more skin than society would think allowable - and they didn't care. I saw some very large women in bathing suit dresses, down to their knees, with sleeves and collars - and those women's bodies were on display just as much as the ladies in string bikinis. A body is a body. No matter what you wear, what color or shape it is - your body is going to fill a certain void in space and that size is the size it is. I don't think that people understand that, and living in black doesn't make you look any smaller - so if you like colors and prints - and I most certainly do, although I love wearing the black as well - wear it, already.
There were women wearing less clothing than I wear when I'm going to bed - and I didn't see one self conscious glance, one hand covering a butt, one t shirt over a bosum.
No one looked self conscious.
In short, no.one.cared.
And, at that moment, I realized that ladies' magazines, with their airbrushed covers and internal angst - how to get a good man, how to keep a good man, how to be ever MORE sex-ay! and here's WHY your body type is horrific - reading those magazines, I think, does the women of the world a disservice. We are surrounded with tricks! and tips! and hints! on improving ourselves and being better - when, all along, maybe we were good enough to being with.
I vow, this summer, to wear my bathing suit unselfconsciously. To not worry about "saving others the sight of me in a bathing suit", to skip "sparing folks the sight of my bodacious booty and thighs that meet in the middle".
Thigh chafe, for the win. <sigh>
I had an email conversation with a relative who I consider a friend, who bought a retro bathing suit similar to the ones I have - whose hubby HATES her suit. She LOVES it. What should she do, what should she do? Wear the suit, was my advice. If you like it and you are comfortable in it - wear the suit. Be proud of who you are and wear the suit.
It's a lesson that I'm slow to learn, one I need hammered in over and over and over. Your body is your body. It's no one elses - it's done things that no one else has, faced struggles and turmoil unique to you - so be in your body and be one with your body.
I'm not advocating a free for all at the all you can eat buffet. I'm not advocating a lifetime of twinkies and soda, pizza and brownies and chips and dip. I still firmly believe in moderation and exercise. Daily exercise.
But if you are doing the best you can do, it's going to have to be good enough. Stop reading the magazines that tell you everything you do is wrong! and deficient! and not good enough - and go hang out in the water park with 600 of your closest neighbors.
I guarantee you'll feel better about yourself.
Because you are beautiful.