Monday, July 18, 2011

I Sing The Body Eccentric

Last weekend at festival I overheard a woman discussing her struggle with body image. Her complaint is a common one: feeling fat in a world that values only thinness. However, her solution struck me as brilliant. She explained that every time she walks past a mirror, she jiggles her belly. She pulls up her shirt, grabs two luscious handfuls of fat, and gives them a shake. She went on to explain that it makes her laugh, which makes her feel good, and that acknowledging her non-industry-standard body in a positive way makes her more comfortable in her skin.

Now I consider myself a curvy gal. True, I’m thinner now than I was in my immediate post-baby years. But I still have floppy tits, stretch marks, and jiggling arms. I’m making peace with that. My tits and belly both sustained my children. My arms carry heavy grocery bags and bust out some bad-ass hoop moves. So while my body may not reflect the conventional beauty standard, it’s functional. I like it. More than I have in a long time.

Like the woman at festival, I’ve found small ways to make myself comfortable with the sensual, fleshy vessel that carries me through life. I practice yoga, which makes my body stronger and more flexible. I dance. I find transcended moments in motion where mind and body are united in gestures of strength and grace. I wear revealing clothes.

There are, of course, heated debates about the politics of women’s clothing. I won’t touch on those here. However, I do hope to make a case for occasional exposing the valleys and mountains of the body to a little sunlight. In my opinion there is nothing more lovely than stripping down to short shorts and a sports bra to sprawl in the sun while my kids play in the yard. There’s nothing more sensual than hooping topless in my living room or in a swimsuit at the creek. There’s nothing more comforting than child’s pose in the nude.

Showing some skin, especially in the hot, humid Missouri summer, isn’t about sex appeal. It’s about making contact with the body as-it-is when there’s no one to impress or criticize. It’s feeling the sun, grass, breezes, and cool sheets on skin that usually hides behind clothing. The mass media bombards me with polarized body images every day. If I’m not careful to reaffirm my body and notice the beauty of women around me, it’s too easy to believe those images are both real and ideal. When I strip back my clothes and inhibitions, I strip back the layers of media-inspired misconceptions. In their absence, I find a body worthy of love.

1 comment:

  1. Look at the first porn photos made during the Civil war for guys who'd been to lotsa brothels and knew what worked better rather than what wore clothes better. Look at 19th century authors to see where the anorexics dont have the hormones to get off on sex. 'Saucy' meant sexy for a reason.