Me and my body? Love-hate relationship. When I was 18 and at University a few of my girlfriends from the residence and I did our "measurements" - and because two of them were kind of small-boned and petite their body stats reflected that. Me, I weighed in at the perfect hourglass 36-24-36 - just enough boobage and hippage to be set off by the cinched waist. I was 5'8", long-legged, and blessed with the kind of metabolism that shrugged at the sight of chocolate cake and said eh, have it, doesn't bother ME.
I had - still have ,they have come down as much unchanged as anything can have done in the intervening years - pretty hands, long-fingered and slender, the hands of a pianist or a surgeon, the hands that turned out to belong, in the end, to a writer. For a very long time as a kid I had the "writer's bump" on my middle finger, a callus where a pen rested as you hold it to write - and in some ways that was a badge of honour, something that told anybody who cared to look and knew anything about how such things occur just exactly who and what I was, a writer, someone who held a pen often and long and lovingly. These days, with my creative endeavoours occurring largely at a computer keyboard, I've lost the callus of penmanship, and there are times I regret that, despite all the avantages that a computer keyboard brought to me. But one thing that hasn't changed is my love for beringing my fingers - when I was younger it was simple little silver bands, one (I remember) set with a fragment of green jade - later on I put on "grown up" jewellery, but the fact remains that when I take off my rings (to knead dough, for instance) I barely recognise my hands as mine, so used am I to seeing the rings there.
If you asked me what I liked best about me, I would probably tell you that I had good eyes - they're hazel, greenish-brown, with a grey ring around the iris which I inherited from my mother and before her from my grandfather. The eyes can change colour sometimes - if I had been crying, for whatever reason, or if I am furious, they turn a deep green, and sometimes my husband tells me that they"re just plain BROWN, dammit. But hey, I know what they are. They're hazel. They've got green in there somewhere. I like that about them.
You might have called me a certified nut because if I had hazel eyes I also had, at some point, chestnut hair - when I was young, very young, I had thiick straight hair and my early childhood photos show me with hairstyles that relied on that,smooth straight bangs and everything. When I hit puberty, I went to sleep one night with THAT hair, and woke up the next morning with this unruly curly mop which frizzes radically at a hint of moisture in the air and which, if it gets wet and is allowed to dry naturally, stands out from my head like a cloud. I have a photo somewhere from my teenage years when this was rampant, sitting out in the garden in the sunlight drying my hair. The photo is from the back, my hair is long, you can only just barely see the edge of my butt where I was sitting down, and the rest of me... is all hair. I look like a little alien creatire who will any moment pull aside that hair curtain and show a pair of weird stalked eyes hiding behind it. When i chopped this mane, it was done while the hair was plaited up - I still have the braid up there in an upstairs drawer, a wonderful warm red-gold shade of old mahogany, thick as my wrist and weighing a quite startling amount for what it is. My hair has thinned since then, and it has fulfilled the promise it made when I was seventeen and started turning grey - it is silver-white now, glowingly so, it shines in sunlight like mithril. But dear GOD, I miss that mop with which I once struggled. I know I used to have HAIR. Big hair. I wonder sometimes just where it went. If I cut off my braid today, as I did back then in the day from which I still have my rope of hair, it would look nothing like that older version. I used to, when I was a kid, wear my hair in two plaits, one to each side - well, my single braid right now would probably compare to ONE of those plaits. Half the head of hair I used to have. If that. Sigh. I suppose it's all a price you pay for growing older.
I have scars now, which I didn't have when I was young. I have laugh lines around my eyes. My skin is older, less elastic, less moist. But my eyes are much richer because they reflect all the life that I have assimilated over the years. My hands are stronger for that experience. I may have acquired extra inches around the waist and a myriad of other imperfections that creep up on you with age, but I'm pretty comfortable with my body, with my self.
I like what my years have brought me. I like being me.
For more information on the National Organization of Women and Love Your Body Day, go here.