Friday, November 20, 2009

Real Women Have Curves

"We don’t need Afghan-style burquas to disappear as women. We disappear in reverse—by revamping and revealing our bodies to meet externally imposed visions of female beauty."
Source: Robin Gerber, author and motivational speaker

Ever look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what happened to your body as time flew by, since you've had your baby, since you've lost that last 10 lbs, since you just couldn't make it to the gym anymore? I have. As I approach my 30's, I find myself in steady state of wonder of how much my body has changed since I was 21 or what will change 10 years from now. While I pondered this thought, I finally got some sense of clarity. While we do need to preserve our bodies and fight for good health, we must always ask for grace for what the results of our efforts may be.

Some years ago, a group of friends and I were having a conversation about our dreams/wishes/hopes. The obvious ones: "I want to find a good husband, " or "I want to publish a novel," of course came up. A brief silence overtook the conversation shortly thereafter when one of the women said, "I just want to watch myself grow old and enjoy the process." While she may not have been the brightest one among the bunch, her words spoke of nothing but true wisdom. Just then, I realized that her words, like a warm blanket on a cold day, would be comforting when I look at myself in the mirror and I notice a new wrinkle, or a gray hair.

Today, the barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells "ordinary" women that they are always in need of adjustment. We are encouraged to believe that the female body is an object to be perfected. The overwhelming presence of images on TV screens and magazines, billboards and music videos of painfully thin women with perfect noses, and wrinkle free skin means that real women’s bodies have become invisible. The saddest part of this is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by beauty industry's standards. This focus on beauty and desirability destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate we currently live in.

While America is a true culprit of this, the world has begun to share in this ugly habit. For instance, in India, skin bleaching is becoming more and more popular; "Bleach skin, increase sex appeal." In Brazil, fake breasts are the new trend. In Tehran, a large majority of women seek out the Michelangelo of Tehran for just the perfect nose. In Saudi Arabia and in Europe, the number of women/men who go under the knife for cosmetic improvement continues to grow.

While I do know that this entry might conflict with the fact that I am a dietitian and I constantly strive to make myself, my family, and my clients look and feel their best, it is also important to take a step back and realize what means the most. Yes, it is important to take care of your body, eat right, exercise, and strive for a better you, but, we must realize that there is beauty in decay...there is beauty in change, there is beauty in getting old....