(Edited to add: This post was chosen and featured at shelovesmagazine.com)
So do it. Click on the link and read. Cry with these women and sing anthems of hope with them too. That's what I did, and I was happy to leave it at that. But in the caverns of my heart I knew. I knew that for it to mean something real and deep, I had to do it, too. I told myself I didn't need to, that I'm not struggling like they are, really...
You know our story is different. We're not sure how, but we've mostly managed to evade the threads of self-loathing that seem to be woven into the fabric of the female being. This heart of ours that pumps bloods through you and emotions through me, it rips a bit when we read of the hatred and disgust women have for their earthly shells. And we wonder what umbrella kept this curse from raining on us. Whatever it was made us one of those rare spectacles that actually believed in our beauty. Through the bad glasses, the not-right haircuts, and the freshman fifteen (or, uh...twenty five), we remained obliviously, blessedly confident.
We grew up thriving under our umbrella, while those who suffered by starving and purging writhed in their lies and others shriveled in the desertlands of wishing they were other than themselves. Will we now lose our grip and toss away the confidence to join the masses chasing the tails of youth?
We've got to know. What is our umbrella? What made us believe that beauty is us?
Maybe it is your nineteen-year-old unwed mother deciding to leave you, the blob of cells, nestled in her womb. You know this body, this life is a gift.
Maybe it is growing up knowing the twinkle of your daddy's eye. It was he who helped you first believe, "You are beautiful."
Perhaps our umbrella is never knowing abuse. Guys treated you with respect, never trying to take a piece of you to have for themselves.
Maybe it is the sacred moment of unveiling on your wedding night and the words of wonder from your groom. He made you the treasure worth waiting for.
Maybe it was all of this, and oh, to wrap it all up and give it to every little girl that ever was.
But let's look even deeper and realize that all these are things that happened to you, circumstances outside of you. These all helped you to believe, but they are not what made you beautiful. For if what makes us beautiful is defined by our circumstances, then aren't we doomed?
For a man could ravage your body, cancer could steal your breasts, time could warp your bones. And what then? If beauty hangs outside of us, then it is there for the taking. But if beauty is knit up in our soul, then it is only ever and eternally ours for the keeping or for the selling.
Maybe it's not an umbrella to cling to at all. Although there are days we forget and join in the toxic wishing, written on the flesh of our heart is the truth that beauty is the very dust of our being, gathered before time, breathed upon with holy kisses, made to mirror all that is glorious and good.
Goodbye, youth. You've been grand, but we are no longer you.
So my dear body, let's drop the fear and get on living with the confidence that comes from being ... beautiful.