What do I like/love about my body? This is huge and so not simple for
me to write about. It took many, many years for me to own that there are things
I do like about my body. First, I’d like to share a little more about me. I am
48 years young, recently married to the love of my life, and I grew up with
juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA.) I contracted JRA when I was three and got
the most aggressive kind, where it ravaged every joint, made my young body look
old, with small fingers, short arms and an uneven gait; I’m also bionic with
knee and hip replacements. As a kid, teen and young adult, my parents trekked
me to tons of doctors, where they poked, prodded, examined, stared at, pricked,
x-rayed, medicated and splinted me to make me hurt less. All this was done to
my body, and often, the focus was on the joint/parts that were most inflamed. A
wrist this week, a hip next year. Living with arthritis can feel like a
roller coaster. I learned to disappear. I went into my head a lot and forgot my
body. I wanted to escape the pain and stares.
In my early twenties, I found a good therapist, discovered alcohol and broke out of my shyness with men. A late bloomer with dating (another column),
I think all of this contributed to re-discovering my body. You have to look at
your body before you know what you like about it, right? I had never looked in
a full-length mirror. I wore loose-fitting clothes, used little make-up and
rarely brushed my curls. I wanted to portray that laid-back, hippie bohemian
look. Who was I kidding? I don’t think I pulled it off.
self-acceptance is a process for all of us, but a little more complex for a
disabled woman. Liking and accepting my body has been a zig-zag journey, and it
is ongoing. I’m still in it. Something began to shift for me when I came out of
my shell with men; having that exterior validation helped. Another experience
that helped me see was when I posed nude at 42 for my Raw Beauty photography show. Face it — women have it hard with media-driven superficial standards of
beauty. Even the average able-bodied women are screwed. No one looks like
supermodels…not even supermodels!
But over time, I stood alone, and my need for the external validation lessened. I only saw what I didn’t like and always compared myself to others. I
couldn’t see the stuff that wasn’t so terrible and uniquely me. In my late
thirties, I took the plunge, looked and really saw. I joke to Robert, my
adorable husband, that God gave us a broken body, so it seemed just that he
would bless us with some so-called “perfect” exterior features. Yes, this is
going to sound superficial and Robert does love me for my mind/soul, but when I
look in the mirror, this is what I see now and feel grateful for. I love my…
*Round butt, more perfect than geometry.
*My brown curls, bouncy, non-kinky, the kind women would pay a lot of money for.
*My big eyes, green like emeralds.
*My full pink lips.
Or I’m having a bad hair day! All of this is part of my whole, my good, bad and
ugly — perfectly, imperfect me. What do you see when you look in the mirror?
What do you like?
[Photos via We Heart It]