Rumor has it that October 19th is Love Your Body Day. (Note: I would do some fact checking before assuming opposite side of the street parking has been suspended.) While I’m not sure that schools and banks should close, I do applaud the occasion. From what I read, see and hear (mostly by way of eavesdropping) this day is called for. From tweens to seniors, there is a great deal of self war being waged. We all have an off day, but there is something tragic about hating yourself every day.
I am a woman from a western culture, I am not impervious to the internalized merciless critic. However, a couple of adult decades under my belt has pretty much muted that little voice. Has my body gotten better with age? I doubt it (if so, I could probably sell myself to science!) To be utterly reductive, I think I’ve (finally) stopped comparing myself to avatars.
As soon as I was allowed, I became a devotee of ‘Teen magazine. I poured over that magazine, not for fashion pointers, but for role models. Like a Talmudic scholar, I wore those pages out trying to decipher the secrets. Coming to adolescence with the zealot belief that life would be like an MGM musical, I desperately wanted to look the part. ‘Teen magazine promised to be the most instructive. I was self aware enough to know that Charlie’s Angels, and even Julie, the cruise director, were out of my reach. But perhaps the fashion models, only a few years older than I, would hold the key. The fifteen year old me, with a thin layer of baby fat, studied those photo-spreads like nobody’s business. I also, unfortunately, compared myself mercilessly to their perceived perfection.
I still find fashion magazines potentially instructive. I now, however, understand the wonders of lighting, styling, airbrushing and photo-shopping. (Hopefully, today’s young teens are much more media savvy than they used to be!) All this is to say, that the first step to honoring “Love Your Body Day” is to stop comparing it to fiction. The second step, is to stop comparing it to others.
“Others” being a version of your younger self, or the gal sitting next to you. As far as the ravages of gravity and/or aging go, let me be the first to point out that you are never going to be as young as you are right now. Don’t waste another moment bemoaning the fall of your bum. Buy better pants if necessary. (Truly, the virtue of good undergarments can not be stressed enough.) And about that “perfect” gal sitting across from you? She feels fat.
No one sees our perceived imperfections, they are far too interested in their own. Whatever our shortcomings, we’re here aren’t we? Isn’t that everything? Life is too short to not treat everyday like a potential MGM musical. Now as far as those off-days? Change your inner critic’s voice to that of Irving Berlin’s: “Never saw you look quite so pretty before.*”
* Easter Parade