Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Body Image

You ever hold a baby and think that baby's healthy body was anything but rad.  Well, I mean, not when it's shitting on you or spitting up or whatever.  I mean, a healthy sleepy baby or a healthy happy baby who's cooing and smiling and laughing because you just sneezed. 

No teeth, squealing glee.  I don't care if you're a person who calls babies crotch droppings, that shit's unbelievable.  Ovary-melting goodness. 

Even if there's something you don't like about the baby's face, and let's face it, if the baby's not on the cover of Baby's Poo Magazine, you think something is askew.  Eyes too small maybe, too far apart.  That baby would be cute if he didn't have that zit or he wasn't giving you a preview of his middle aged male pattern baldness issue. 

But her body?  Gorgeous.  Chunkalunk rolly poly legs.  Long toes.  Dimpled knuckles.  Outie belly button.  Innie belly button.  Weird hairy back. 

I can't tell you how I love to grab my baby's thighs in both hands and raspberry his belly.  Or how excited I am to discover the first freckle on Magnus's cheek.  The tuft of hair growing at the base of Gavin's neck... hilarious!  And the blonde underneath, brown on top, two-tone hair that grows straight out of his head?  I've cut dreadlocks out of it.  I love it.

Baby bodies are so freakin cute.  The top cuteness indicators for me are their feet and their legs.  Although depending on the baby that could change.

As long as they're healthy, they're gorgeous!

Same with toddlers. 

So when does it change?  When did my healthy body stop being this thing that other people examined and adored and become this thing that I went over with a fine-toothed comb to hate upon?  When did a lil extra belly fat start meaning I was unworthy and ugly?  When did your thick ankles start to mean you hated to wear skirts and instead settled on extra long slacks with heels?  Or your looser arm skin start to mean you stopped wearing short sleeves?

I can guarantee you the people who love you most don't look at your body the way you do.  I can promise you the person who loves you most, looks at the way you spin a pen and thinks how pretty your long slender fingers are.  Or loves the way your long neck looks when you've just gotten your hair cut and you wear that small, simple necklace with the tiny diamond.  The people who love you, smile when they see the distinctive way you hop-dance, or the way you slink your head down when you're embarassed.  They don't care a fig about your minor difference from a super model.  They certainly don't care about that mole you're always hiding with high necklines, or that scar on your belly from the c-section you had.

You know what I love?  I love to see the way the scar on my wrist cuts an angle around my wrist as I limply dangle it out the open car window.  I love the curve of my foot when I point my toes.  I love my earlobes.  I never noticed it until my husband pointed it out over and over again, but now I love my perfectly balled up chin.  And I love looking down at my chest as my baby nurses.  It is the single most beautiful thing I've ever seen. 

When I see a woman in a locker room, I think how beautiful her silver hair is against a body that looks lithe and strong.  Or I notice how incredible her round tits are.  She's clearly in her 40s, good for her!  I notice older women with beautiful eyes that shimmer when she talks about grandkids the age of my kids.  Those eyes are framed by laugh lines that ripple out from her smile.  I notice the way my friend's tiny waist is accentuated by her supple hips.  And my god when that girl hip checks you, whoa!  That is one sexy, beautiful motion. 

Yet, when I'm in a locker room, what I think about myself is not about how much I love certain moles and their artful placement across my abdomen.  I hate the flaws I see grow into huge monstrous things that attack me and tell me how not worthwhile I am.  How I shouldn't eat ice cream even though I love it.  I shouldn't eat at all.  I still have 10 lbs to lose from having a baby and for crying out loud, it's been almost six months.  I lean and cower under my towel, terrified that I will ruin someone's appetite with my loose, scarred belly skin.  Heaven forbid my tits, which are doing a glorious job of feeding another human, drip.  That would be mortifying.  I'd laugh and make a joke but inside, I'd be hoping the person didn't wince or yell at me, knowing that's what I'd deserve.

In locker rooms, we women dissect and pick ourselves apart into pieces of meat that should be thrown in the trash.

I think that's a shame.  I think locker rooms should be a sacred place where we see normal bodies and see the bounty of healthy that is possible.  Variety and beauty as a buffet of validation is what should be held dear.  Here, we have an opportunity to dismiss the fashion magazines and movie star images in favor of a sea of healthy options:  supple and dimpled, lithe with ropy muscles, long nourishing nipples, and more. 

These are the type of images we should see in locker rooms.

Because healthy bodies are beautiful.  We just need to work on our imaginations a little.  We need better body images, to build better body images. 

I'm gonna get workin on it.  Just as soon as I finish this master's degree thing I started.

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