Image: @jFor months, my little boys have chattered about the end of the school year. And with it, the opening of our neighborhood pool.
As I sat in the living room thinking about putting on a swimsuit for the first time this summer, I was filled with that old familiar panicking in my stomach.
My boys ran to put on their swim suits while I silently dreaded the thought of going in public in mine.
They were especially excited on this day because a very dear older relative was visiting us for the holiday weekend. They wanted nothing more than to play with her at the pool. As they ran out of the room, I expected to see excitement twinkling in her eyes as well.
Instead, she met my gaze with a saddened face as she sighed, “I just hate to put on a swimsuit… I’m TOO wrinkled!” My heart sank into the pit of the stomach I so desperately wanted to hide.
Then it hit me
And that’s when I felt my breath rush out…. as it hit me:
I could spend my whole entire life starving myself in an effort to make myself feel comfortable in a swimsuit.
But even if I did this, and I would still have the feeling of being thinner – but still not good enough. Even if I got back to the emaciated frame I once had, I would still pick it apart in the mirror with my critical eye. If I returned to the smallest number I’d ever achieved on the scale, or if reached an even smaller number, I would still have body insecurities in my swimsuit.
There is simply and absolutely nothing I can do to stop the “wrinkling” of my life. We all love this woman dearly, wrinkles and all. She spent a large portion of her life raising four amazing children. She worked for decades helping others, who plays the piano. If that wasn’t enough she also has a love for dancing, and makes the best homemade taco shells I have ever tasted.
Yet, instead of focusing on spending time with three children who adore her…. this woman was focused solely on the wrinkles on her arms and legs. At that moment I truly inhaled what a travesty it is that women who do amazing things their entire lives can in a split second reduce their worth to outward characteristics. Things they actually have little to no control over.
Powerful, beautiful, creative, loving, women dismiss their value and intrinsic worth only to focus on their size.
Their wrinkles. Their hair color. And all of the other meaningless physical aspects our society tells us matter more than our heart and our spirit.
It is heartbreaking. Yet it is so common. And it is devastatingly wrong.
If I dig deep and am brutally honest with myself, I recognize that by focusing on looks, I will never feel like I’m enough. I will never reach “perfection”.
Not only is it an impossible goal, but this body I am living in is constantly changing and aging. There’s not a damn thing I can do to stop it. I really am powerless over many of the changes that naturally occur in my body.
The idea that I can control my weight or my body is an illusion.
What truly matters?
As I saw the sadness and embarrassment in her face as she attempted to hide one wrinkled arm under the other, I realized- I do not want this for the future me. Chasing after one impossible ideal after another, while missing the beauty that is all around me.
I do not want it for our sisters. Our mothers, daughters, or nieces. Or for our friends. Because it is nothing short of heartbreaking and devastating. While I have no choice but to age, I can choose to focus on that which truly matters- the love surrounding me.
And at 69 years old, I can only hope I will choose to be enjoying life as I embrace my grandchildren in my powerful, loving, and beautifully wrinkled arms.