It’s me again, your intermittent blogging friend. It seems that the last two years my journaling entries are short and less than what it takes to fill a post here. My follow through doesn’t follow me when I leave my station on the back porch in the morning.
For a while now, I’ve had some thoughts about body image. These can be of the paralyzing variety. I would have to say that in my conversations with women of every shape, size and age, it’s fairly unanimous, we are insecure about our appearance in our over sixty bodies.
Are you like me? Did you believe all the things you’ve read about how confident, productive and kick-ass you were going to be in your senior years? (Yes, I said senior years! Come on now, we’re over sixty!) How you would wear whatever you want and never care what anyone thinks? I keep wondering when the super confident body image train is going to pull in to the station? I wanna ride that train baby! Instead, I’ve found myself a bit stuck with extra pounds that arrived just after menopause and are sticking to me like white on rice. My “muffin-top” has turned into a bagel bulge. I’m getting the dreaded “mam-maw arms”, as we less than affectionately call them in our family. And my muscle tone, well, let’s just say, what muscle tone?
BUT I DIGRESS, as my female conversations often do at this point. That’s HOW I KNOW THIS IS A THING. A THING, a commonality that many among us over sixty are experiencing. Last week, I had an epiphany, (you knew it was coming) Now, I could give you that lecture about how lucky we are to still be alive and healthy, but I know that you already know that, and quite frankly, it’s just an unnecessary guilt trip for having these thoughts. Lets be real, IT”S REAL! Body image, self imposed body shaming, it’s real. If you’re not having these struggles, please exit now, you’re not part of this conversation. (The liars club blog is the next site over.)
Okay, back to my epiphany…I started looking around at other women and I’ve noticed that all of us are struggling with the same body issues. All of our bulges and sags come in different degrees, but they’re all similar. Hey, guess what? Your best pal has a protruding abdomen too. Take a real look past your self conscientiousness, we are all aging together. We’re all women and as we age our abdominal muscles relax and if those abdominal muscles have also been stretched to capacity with a pregnancy thirty plus years ago (that happened to max out at eight pounds upon delivery), THEY ARE TIRED! And maybe your Uterus (okay, I said that word!) has dropped a bit, or tilted and it’s leaning out, IT’S TIRED TOO! It may be saying, “Sister, I’ve served you well, but i’m outta here!” And those Maw-Maw arms you may be sporting? Well honey, it’s called GRAVITY. To coin a phrase by CHER, “If I could turn back time”. In her case, plastic surgery helped that dream come true, but for the majority of us, that’s not reality. We are here, this is now, and this is what we’ve got.
“TIME’S UP” I think times up for this kind of negative self talk. Always wishing you looked a different way so you could wear a bathing suit again. The time for judging others for how “she’s let herself go” is over. The reality is that we are a sisterhood that could be supporting one another. We could be strengthening one another. I think the key is to JUST SHUT UP. Don’t carry those comments about someone else, their choice of clothing, the weight they’ve put on, their gray hair, etc…JUST STOP. All of those conversations that we think men are the carriers of ? WE ARE DOING IT. We’ve always done it, and it has to stop. Be good to yourself with your self talk, and be good to your sisters too. A friend once told me that she thinks its sexist behavior for men to comment on a woman’s appearance, and I’d have to agree. But what does that make it when we comment on another woman’s appearance? We’re not being a good friend, heck, we’re not being a good human. I have been more than guilty. My full disclosure, I’ve played fashion faux-pas with the worst of them, I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. And you have too at some time or another, it’s a girl thing. But what if it wasn’t? What if we began a more positive conversation with other women about other women? What if we began having more positive conversations with ourselves, letting go of that negative self talk?
If nothing else is gleaned from my post here today, I hope you get this message above all, I NEED YOU. The woman next to you NEEDS YOU. We need each other. Support your tribe. Be KIND in your conversations about other women. Be kind to yourself with your self talk. You’ve made it to sixty and beyond. Celebrate that victory and that body that got you through it. I see us all breaking through that banner of victory at the 60 & 70 & 80 mark with our arms linked in the arms of other women as we celebrate one another, and perhaps we’re shouting “TOWANDA!!”