As I grow older, I have a definite tendency to become more health conscious. As children we were always active and our parents fed us mindfully, but the last six or so years have found me giving up meat, taking up running and practicing yoga. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve accepted the fact that weight and health don’t have to be correlated. At my skinniest, I’ve not necessarily been my healthiest, and vice versa.
We all nod knowingly when we hear ‘youth is wasted on the young,’ but it seems painfully poignant when I see my peers today finding themselves with an acceptance and even respect for their figures despite the real or perceived flaws. We dress to our body shape, we go to the gym, we buy Spanx and watch our portion sizes. We have moments of pizza-induced weakness and thigh-loathing, but overall we realize we are not, nor will we ever be, the genetic freak that is Heidi Klum. We flaunt what we have, whether it be breasts, bum, clavicle or calves, and we strategically camouflage the other bits.
I can’t speak for all of us, but as I see 30 in my future and realize 20 isn’t even visible in my rear view mirror anymore, I work on seeing myself as a constantly perfected work-in-progress. I don’t mean that to sound conceited, but I think many a man would be shocked and women would be saddened if we truly added up the time spent worrying about our flaws. Sure, I’d love to be a little thinner in the area I refer to as between-the-belly-button-and-knees, but mostly I just want to fit into my favorite jeans for a few more years and live as long as possible. The 27-year old me, unlike the 16-year old me, realizes that the primary purpose of my body is not to provide eye-candy for men or to serve as a mannequin for tiny t-shirts. Even with so few years logged in, I’ve seen women beat cancer, battle M.S., birth children with great ease, birth children with great difficulty, run marathons, care for loved ones and stay standing through it all. If I’m having a good day and turn a few heads, I won’t complain. But our bodies clearly have a higher purpose than pleasing men (or women, for that matter).
I can’t get back the time I spent as a teen hating my body. I also, unfortunately, can’t get back the time spent watching ‘Speed’ repeatedly just to let Keanu make my palms all sweaty. Or those hours wasted bawling to Jewel when my first boyfriend dumped me. The point is, I’ve learned my lesson. From now on I, nay WE, will accept our lumps, be more forgiving of both real and imagined cellulite and/or hair on the upper lip. After all, life is bigger that that…and we have self-tanner and wax to deal with the other matters!