Next week a group of my girlfriends and I will be spending an extended beach weekend up in Michigan. This seemed like a good reason to shop since I hadn't purchased a new swimsuit in over five years, so I bravely tackled this experience yesterday at the local stores. I wandered the sale racks and picked through a few suits to bring into the dressing room. What did I discover? Bright, glaring florescent lights with garish mirrors do nothing for one's self-image. As I attempted to wriggle my aged, wrinkled, and dimply body into various concoctions of writhing latex, I grew more and more discouraged. I was determined, though, to complete this grueling task. I was on a mission. I ventured into three or four stores with no success. After a short break at home to recoupe, I went to Target which did have the largest selection of suits for the middle of July. The majority of swim suits, though, were teeny tiny, cute bikinis that would look fabulous on a lithesome nineteen year old girl who only understands a size zero. I then stumbed upon a line of suits by Sara Blakey, the woman who invented Spanx. I finally found a top and bottoms that fit and emphasized my fifty-something assets. The fact that I had to go up a size was discouraging, but it was a neccesary sacrifice for beauty and comfort. As I left Target with bag in hand, I told myself that I was going to work this suit on the beach. I was going to suck in my gut, stand tall, and think hot.
Lately I have been thinking quite a bit about women's view of beauty, especially our own perceptions when we look in the mirror. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to self-esteem. We pick at every flaw. We analyze and critique each bump, wrinkle, laugh line, and bulge. We spend thousands of dollars on anti-aging creams and undergarments that delude us with the promises of youth. Over the 4th of July weekend my family had a reunion, and I took most of the pictures. My son Jack at one point grabbed the camera and snapped a few of me when we were sitting around the fire. I clicked through the previews, and as I came upon the ones of me I immediately deleted them. I looked fat! Did I really have that double chin? What a belly! Since I was the official photographer of the event, now the only pictures of me are in the group pics that were taken on a timer. This is typical of many mothers out there. We snap all kinds of photos of our children, but we are rarely in the frame. This is sad to me. Where are we in the history of our families? Must we delete ourselves out of the story just because we don't like the way we look in those shorts?
We tell ourselves every day that beauty is more than just the physical, but we are not convinced. How do we change this perception? How do all women begin to see themselves as pretty, no matter our weight, size, or age? I'm not sure I have the answer, but I do know I am going to start with that girl in the mirror. If I see a hot chick, then the world will see a hot chick, albeit an old hot chick. I'll still spend too much money on moisturizers, but confidence can be priceless. And the next time my son takes a picture of me, I will think twice about deleting it........maybe.