“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enameled with lovely hues.” ― Thérèse de Lisieux
I recently went dress shopping. I have a few special occasions coming up, and the last time I bought a nice dress was three babies ago. A lot of things have changed since then. Like the mirrors in fitting rooms. I’m pretty sure they put some of those wide fun house ones in my fitting room. Those mirrors are supposed to make you laugh, but I was less than amused with the way I looked in those dresses.
And if trying on dresses wasn’t enough torture for me, I also got to have my yearly check up at the gynecologist. Do you know what I despise most about that visit? It is probably not what you’d think. It’s the part where I step on the scale. Not because I have to face that number (believe me, I weigh myself religiously every morning), but because someone else is going to see that number…and put it in my chart where others might see it as well.
It’s probably needless to say at this point, but I really dislike my body. And why? I’m not overweight. I’m not underweight. I’m just not….perfect.
We live in a celebrity-mad culture that puts way too much emphasis on the superficial. Take for instance the current presidential race, where looks and bodies of potential first ladies are being paraded around, as if they are something that should affect for whom you vote.
Just the other day, posts of praise for Hugh Hefner on his birthday were appearing in my Facebook feed. The amount of “likes” from women alone amazed me. This man, who has a rotating roster of wives and girlfriends; a man who has taught our culture that women’s bodies are made to be viewed and are ornamental; a man who has done nothing for women except to give them an unrealistic view of life and the female body; is being applauded, thanked, and hailed as a great icon. He upholds and promotes the idea that there is an ideal female body, and both women and men are buying into that idea.
And how do I fight this? The idea that there is an “ideal body” has shaped the definition of beauty for me and my body. As my three year old daughter and I strolled through our neighborhood she came upon a patch of flowers. “Which one is your favorite, Mommy?” I told her I liked the daffodils the best. “I like these pink ones, but they are all beautiful.” She was right. This diverse garden of flowers was full of beauty. And just because I had a preference for one flower, doesn’t mean that there was no beauty in the others, or that they had no place in the garden at all. How is it that I could look at this garden and find beauty in all the different kinds of flowers, but fail to see that just because my body isn’t what I’d prefer it to be, doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful? We need to redefine what is beautiful when it comes to the female body. A definition that is not exclusive to one type, but inclusive.
The expectation that our bodies must look a certain way is an artificial one. Some of us are tall, some short, some thin, some heavy, some pale and some dark. We need to stop trying to be someone else’s vision of the perfect body. Our bodies are just as much a part of the beauty of creation as the flowers in the garden are.
Photo: 5789ex P900 beauties of spring via photopin (license)
Our Selfie Culture What would you think if you found out one of your friends spends five hours a week staring at her face? If you are a woman between the ages of 16 and 25, that friend is probably you. Thank you, selfie culture. Collectively, our selfie culture devotes