Body of Work

Who needs to take an angry nap after seeing this photo? Me, too. Before picture? You look fab darling. Love it, work it, honor it.

About a year ago, Zuzu and I were at a grocery store stocking up on processed foods and unwhole goodness. I was elbow deep into the condiment shelves when I heard her yell,

"Mom! Look at that man! He is so short and so fat!"

My head whipped around and I clamped a hand over her mouth while angry whispering, SHHHHHHHHHH. It was a gut reaction and afterwards we had a more civilized conversation about the whole thing.

There is nothing wrong with being honest. There is nothing wrong with observing truth. However, sometimes we need to keep our honest observations to ourselves. We then talked about all the different kinds of people God has put onto this good green earth. Some are tall, some are short, some are bigger, some are smaller, all bodies are beautiful no matter how different they look from our own. Even more importantly, we all have the same worth. It is what is inside that really matters and we talked about how that inside goodness is what we should spend our energy trying to observe. I felt pretty damn proud of myself.

Friday we went to Trader Joe's to make our monthly donation to their rapidly filling coffers. I can't help myself. Mama loves their masala veggie patties and all those bins of peanut butter cups. While we walked down the frozen aisle I noticed that one of the employees working in it happened to be a little person. I looked at Zuzu, reflected on our conversation from last year and felt confident in her behavior. Thank goodness I've taught my daughter the beauty of the diversity of our forms, I thought. Then I self-righteously rifled through smugly packaged boxes of organic pizzas hand fired in Italy for my eating pleasure.

I felt a tug on my skirt. When I looked around Zuzu waved her hand so that I would bend down to hear her loose-toothed whisper.

"Hey, mom. Did you see that guy that is short? Don't worry. I just went up to him and told him I think he is really, really cool. Isn't that way better than what happened that other time I saw a short person? Because we are all great. I just think he is so cool! And I wanted him to know it."

Ummmmmm. Not exactly the lesson I thought  had taught her. And at first, I was mortified. And we did talk afterwards about the fact that people are cool for lots of reasons and that I am sure that man IS cool, but the best way to know about someone is to, you know, get to know them.

But I don't know. Maybe she's on to something. I think right now so much of the media and marketing against the objectification of our bodies pushes us to ignore their existence. Like who cares about my body? Care about what is inside and ignore the rest. But that seems to presuppose that not all bodies are created equally. That we must ignore our forms to be truly appreciated. I don't buy that line of thinking. We are not just bodies, true. We are more than our bodies, absolutely. But what if instead of claiming there are no beauty ideals and beauty doesn't really exist, we shouted out an appreciation of our forms and those of others. What if we decided that it is okay that our bodies are really, really part of our identity , really, really beautiful no matter how they present in form, and really, really cool?

My religion believes that body and spirit combined make a soul. One needs the other to be complete. Just that philosophy alone makes MY body, my cellulite, my stretchmarks, my breasts that well, droop a little, so effing beautiful I can hardly stand the glory of it. I'm sick of working to ignore how I look in pursuit of some higher understanding and I am not going to burden my girls with that unrealistic un-truth. Bodies are more than the meaty packaging for your heart. They are an integral part of self and if we just allowed ourselves to look outside the constraints of Door One - Bodies are all that matter and Door Two - Bodies don't matter at all, we might find a really interesting and empowering third option.

The way you were formed is really, really cool. And I just want you to know it.