By: Schuyler Biedron
“I've learnt to appreciate my body, because it's taken me all the way here and will take me to the end.” - Clémentine Desseaux
A few days ago, my incredibly generous boss asked if I wanted to borrow some of her summer clothes for a trip to Hawaii I had planned that week. As we poured through her gorgeous closet, I felt a bit low. I told her my bathing suits weren’t fitting too well these days and that one in particular rose so high, it basically televised my cellulite and a large, awkward freckle on my butt that I had been embarrassed about since I was a little girl. She started laughing, “Oh honey, we all have cellulite, and I have a mole on my butt too! It’s adorable.” I smiled and asked her if she ever felt self-conscious in bathing suits because of these “flaws.” As she looked up, she paused and then confidently replied, “I used to, but not anymore. People are lucky to see my ass.”
Unfortunately, like many people, I have wasted much of my time longing for a body I didn’t have. Even though I was blessed with strong health and good genes, I still struggle often to feel comfortable and happy in my own skin. I am constantly beating myself up - wishing I was more toned, more flat and more desirable. This unrealistic, ruthless obsession to be thin has created some very unhealthy, lonely moments for me: starvation, binge eating, throwing up, strict diets, abusing laxatives, weeks with too much exercise, months without any at all. While my path towards self-love has certainly been a rocky one, I am trying, one step at a time, to discover the healing, relief and serenity that come from a healthy relationship with our impermanent bodies.
It’s hard being a woman! We are groomed to believe that we should look and feel a certain way that is unrealistic for most of the planet’s population. And because of that, we grow up feeling less than for so many different reasons: our weight, skin, body types, body hair, shoe sizes, tummy sizes, nipple sizes, boob sizes, butt sizes, even our vagina sizes! How can we become strong, confident, sensual women with curves and imperfections when the patriarchy, media and fuck – even other women - have tricked us into believing that we’re not supposed to?
Today, I am working to let go of the body I wish I had, and love the body I currently have. The body that may be a little squishier, looser and paler but also wiser, kinder and still beautiful. I am accepting that no matter how hard I try, my 31-year-old body may never look like my 28-year-old body; my 31-year-old body will look differently than my 35-year-old body; and one day - if I’m lucky to look back at 70-years-old - I will shake my head and smile as I miss and yearn for it all.
I am learning that it is a privilege to age and grow and be. I often wonder, instead of beating ourselves up for looking older, saggier, wrinklier – can’t we be proud? Proud that our ever-changing bodies only prove that we have seen, learned, fought, grown, and survived as women in this day and age? I mean, think about it, how badass are we?
I know now that it is a daily choice to feel sexy and empowered in our skin, instead of gloomy and ashamed. So, as I sat on the breathtaking beaches of Kauai with my tummy pouch and freckled butt hanging out, I did the work. I let myself feel the self-pity, defeat and disappointment, and then chose to change my perspective to one of self-compassion, acceptance and gratitude. Each of us were born into a particular body for this particular lifetime, and you know what? It is the only one we will ever have. As women of all shapes, sizes and colors leading this generation, let’s take some action towards resilience today. Let’s choose to love and cherish ourselves – blemishes and all.