(preface: I think these are the kind of posts that we aren’t meant to write. You feel pretty, PRETTY? Wow, how DARE you…Vanity is so unbecoming, and your arrogance adds ten pounds to your neck. Well, I’m doing it anyway!)
This is a post I never thought I’d find myself writing, for so many reasons. I do self-deprecating way better than I do anything else (including laundry, dancing and baking.) But mainly, because I never actually thought I would be of this opinion. But here’s the thing:
I feel prettier at 41 than I did at 21.
When I was 21 so much of how I felt about myself (well, my looks anyway) were caught up in other peoples opinions, creating a fragile and precarious muddle of my self esteem.
If a boy complimented me, I felt pretty.
If a girl on the bus checked me out from head to toe and then rolled her eyes and whispered to her friend, I felt ugly ( I also felt like stabbing them but I’m saving that for my homicidal tendencies post.)
If the bus driver saw me running to get on, and waited, I felt pretty.
If he rode on, I was ugly. Why else would he leave me stranded, right?
For the most part, being 21 was like riding an emotional roller-coaster without the benefit of cotton candy or winning a stuffed tiger afterwards.
And now, here at 41, I do feel pretty. I feel like I have safely landed and I like the way the ground feels beneath my feet.
I’m not “all that!!”
I never was, nor will I ever be.
But c’mon, it sure is nice to appreciate as many parts of yourself as possible.
And of course some of that is fed from my husbands opinion of me, I think that’s healthy and an important part of marriage. I would have a huge problem if he found me unattractive (of course, the problem would be bigger for him, but again, leaving homicidal posts for later.)
But mainly it comes from – and this is as corny as an afternoon summer bbq – it comes from how I choose to live my life.
Lately, through luck and good fortune, I ‘ve had the chance to look at my physical accomplishments realistically. I recently wrote an article for Today’s Parent magazine about going from the couch (the couch that comes with an endless supply if ice-cream, you know the one) to running 5km. It was a terrific experience, (no spoilers: but go buy the magazine then tell Today’s Parent how much you enjoyed it, really, go do it) and it left me wanting more.
It also left me looking at myself and treating myself very differently.
I do wish my body would catch up to the image I hold of myself (which is 50 pounds lighter) but for someone like myself, who has never challenged myself physically before, this was a huge breakthrough. Especially because I am so used to all the cautionary warnings and entire lists of what not to do for Women. Over Forty.
Choose the wrong shade of lipstick or skirt hemline or fabric and you are pathetic and skanky and asking for it and trying to be your 16 year old daughter and all that.
And I realized that this is bullshit.
If wearing your hair down to your ass makes you feel like dancing, then go for it. If your “Juicy’s” make you feel youthful and vibrant, go for it!
Lately, I’ve had conversations about weight, specifically about my attempts at losing weight. I’ve had major gains/losses over the years but for the past 4months, have slowly changed my approach. For me, losing weight is about gaining strength. I had a taste of that with the running program (but mainly just from keeping myself upright) and I am hooked on the power of that one tingly feeling, so foreign to me.
One women remarked that she wouldn’t want her daughter to hear this conversation, but I wonder why not? I think it’s important that there be an emphasis on physical strength and physical endurance – this doesn’t come from books or playing the piano, it really does come from what we put in our bodies and what we do to our bodies. I think that, under the right circumstances these are absolutely conversations that our kids should be part of.
I look around at my friends (yes, this includes the twitter and facebook ones as much as the real life ones too) and all I see is their beauty and confidence. And I am so pleased and content to have arrived here among them, finally.
Cue the awkward ending music…..