I went bra shopping today, which is second only to bathing suit shopping on the scale of things not to do when you’re feeling depressed. It doesn’t help that the place is covered with photoshopped pictures of beautiful women. I want to love my body, I really do. When faced with a three way mirror though, I see every dimple magnified, every imperfection, every bit of the results of eating doughnuts. I stop seeing myself as a whole person. True I’m 41 and I certainly couldn’t work out much less, but I don’t see myself with the same eyes that I see other women. Women are beautiful, all shapes and all sizes. Why do I look at myself with such a critical eye? Or a better question, how do I change the way I see myself?
I have three daughters, and I work with young girls all week. I have a very real responsibility to change the way the next generation of girls looks at themselves. And trust me, I talk the talk with them. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that they will do as I do, not as I say. Dammit.
I guess it’s time for what my dear friend AH calls fake it until you make it. I know she didn’t invent the term, but she’s one of those parents I’d like to be when I grow up. She’s one of my hero moms. I’m fortunate to have a powerhouse of real life female heroes all around me. My friend Wyndi is one of my hero women.
I met Wyndi when I went to college. She helped introduce me to the idea of feminism and gave me a heads up about the fact that the sexual revolution wasn’t over yet. Wyndi has (and had) a knack for gathering together strong and potentially strong women. She held meetings at her apartment and talked about politics and women’s rights in a way that opened my eyes so that i could really see the world. I could probably tell you a story about the time we hung bound, gagged and blindfolded Barbie dolls around the college’s central cistern to protest the graduation ceremony. But I’ll save it for another post.
During that time Wyndi assembled a group of smart, self-assured, fantastic women for a feminist theatre piece. The whole production was overwhelmingly full of opportunities to express ourselves as strong women and challenge our personal ideas about the status quo. My costume for the production was a black Lycra cat suit, which was the onstage equivalent of a three way mirror. At the top of the show we had to say these empowering statements about our beautiful bodies. My line-“I am comfortable with the size of my body.” On the night of dress rehearsal, I opted to wear black jeans over my cat suit. Ironically I was not comfortable with the size of my ample butt. Wyndi had no trouble pointing out this irony to me. On opening night I strutted out in my shiny cat suit and acted like i loved the hell out of my entire body. It didn’t entirely change the way I saw myself, but it provided me the opportunity to fake it. And that provided me the opportunity to embrace my curves and redefine them as real, and as me, and as OK.
I may not be ready to stare down the reality of the three way mirror and love all that I see. However, If you see me out you might notice I’ve got a little extra swag. Don’t be hating. I’m faking it until I make it.