Today I stripped down in front of a Target dressing room mirror and declared my body good enough.
I was trying on a simple grey t-shirt dress. It required the removal of everything external, and I was surrounded by mirrors. A dreadful prospect, no matter what the circumstances.
For someone who grew up in a household where her beautiful mother was repeatedly debased and accused of being “too fat”, this was A Big Deal.
Who can say the impact that the words we hear over and over again will carry? My mother is a beauty queen–Miss Texarkana 1962 and runner up to Miss Arkansas in the Miss America pageant–and never was she anything remotely close to “too fat” for anyone but my father’s overblown and untouchable perception of what female beauty was.
It was okay to be large, but not TOO large, in some places, but not others. It was allowable to have some excess above the waist as long as it was carefully positioned and never overflowed the boundaries of social grace. To be lacking in that arena, however, was shameful.
I discovered, at some point when pre-tween nosiness was rampant, beneath their bed a strange apparatus made of plastic. My mother informed me plainly that it was a device intended to induce the growth of the bosom.
My father had bought it for her.
He (my father) is a study in inconsistencies and contrast. His view of perfection is irreconcilably narrow. Excess in any form is abhorred, yet, in some areas, excess is embraced, at least privately. Unless you are his own flesh and blood, in which case it becomes embarrassing.
When I hit puberty and fat began to deposit itself willy-nilly over the contours of my body, he recoiled in horror. Wondered if my mother might be able to find some sort of foundation garments that would reign me in somehow. I was offered money to lose weight.
These things make an impact upon the psyche.
What the hell?
I mean, really? What the hell? What the hell is okay? What the hell is allowable? What the hell is abhorrent? What the hell do you want from me?
These questions have never been adequately answered. So I (and countless others like me) are left to answer these questions on our own. Perfection is overrated. Or perhaps it is within our grasp, if only we can stop the insanity that perfection itself engenders.
Today, when I looked at the dimples, the jiggles, the contours of imperfection and reality that made their mark upon my body, I had a choice to make.
Would I choose peace, or war?
I’m not talking health. I’m not saying the choice was to be healthy or not healthy. I am a pretty healthy person any way you slice it. Low weight. Small BMI. The choice was to be content or not content. The choice was to be at war with myself for ever ad nauseum, or to choose contentment with the body I have been given.
This is a big deal. When one has been handed a genetic profile that includes numerous tendencies including body dysmorphia, then being able to look at oneself, flaws and all, and declare it all good, is something akin to God Himself gazing upon His creation and saying “Yes. Yes, this is what I like. This is fantastic!”
I look fantastic.
I have overcome.
At least for today.