(Dedicated to Ricki, who is visiting soon…)
So my mom has been here visiting all weekend, and in fact I’ve been staying with her uptown in her hotel on 57th street. Lovely visit, ov. But we had this one conversation that I found interesting, and totally connected to an issue I’ve been pondering. That issue is beauty. Here are some questions I have about beauty:
Why do we have such limiting rules about who is beautiful? Do you always need another pair of eyes to confirm your beauty? Are beautiful things always more beautiful when they are still (able to be looked at) and possessed (able to be touched/held)? Do things I find beautiful that aren’t physical (kindness, HUMOR, compassion, intelligence) matter at all? Do I want to be beautiful? If so, does it matter more than all the other stuff about me? (For the record, at this moment, it’s I don’t know but men make the rules, yes, yes, not really, sometimes, most of the time)
Anyway, I’ll ov be talking more about all this, but suffice it so that that I made a decision towards the end of last semester that I was done w/ the cycle of indulgence and guilt we all go through, and that I didn’t have time to have the perfect body so instead I was just gonna try and like mine just how it is. (That 10 lbs is only ‘extra’ if I’m trying to look like celebrity freaks who are not only the minority physically but also they’re airbrushed. I don’t need a six pack to write my thesis.) So I mention this to my mom, that I’ve been liking my body just fine, and she says something like “Well there are still little things you could do that would make a difference, you know like eating less bread.”
Why should I eat less bread? I like bread. And I am a perfectly healthy and normal size and shape. Yoga and biking keep it all in check for me, not to mention the surplus of veggies and lack of dairy/meat (yup, I’m vegan, which I’m sure will come up more later…) The point is, she is so programmed (like we all are) to think that 5 lbs less and we’d be happy. Or at least happier, and probably in a relationship and also more valuable to the world. But I was 5 lbs lighter in August, and I was certainly not happier (or attached.) I also didn’t really look that much better. Any better. And between now and then, no one who has seen me has registered a complaint (nor has anyone ever, for the record) because it’s only us girls who have this weird obsession with being littler, lighter. If you think everyday that you’d be happier if you lost weight, you need help. I don’t know how much help, if you are a self-helper or you need friends or therapy or whatever. But its frustrating to me that my own mother, who I know is proud of me and thinks I’m beautiful blah blah blah, still couldn’t help but counsel me towards the zero end of the scale.
(By the way, wanting to shrink does have connections to wanting to be invisible, disappear, go unnoticed, ect… Just sayin’.) Speaking of beauty and self worth, here is an old school Broadway standard that discusses this topic. It’s from A Chorus Line. I know the preceding monologue, and will recite it for you if you ask nicely.
The PS is that once I let go a little of that eternal quest perfection and decided I’d rather be smart than beautiful (also substitute funny/sexy), I felt a lot more confident. Like when I stopped trying so hard and feeling guilty, it opened up this space for breath and sassiness. I have no idea if that will last. But for what it’s worth, usually if you have to cling really hard to something, thats a sign of how much you need to let it go. If it’s meant to stick around it will show up again and settle into your life in a way that fits better. If not, it will fly away and you’ll be lighter. And funner. And freer.