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The next time you rummage through your life in search of things to feel good about, I urge you start with your mirror.
My friend Ron has the tiniest dimple. It’s just down and off to the right of her smile. Her smile is radiant, like flicking on the brights at night. She’s got full wide lips and big strong teeth that speak of vitamins and good home training; her gap speaks of a solid constitution. Ron’s got a space between her two front teeth that I would have happily traded my lunch money a thousand times over for. It’s stunning. It’s famous. When they say Mind the gap, they mean check out my friend’s smile. Were you aware of this?
Growing up, I used to floss a little harder between my two front teeth, trying in vain to create that magic sliver of space. Oh, how I longed to ignite my smile and distinguish myself as a toothy darling, just like my friend. But it wasn’t meant to be. In fact, my dentist told me my teeth are packed so tight, it’s a wonder any food wedges its way in between them.
Like Ron, several of my friends have amazing features that make me want to write poetry and burn candles: Jaime’s hazel eyes that dance and warm when she laughs, Bailey’s caring hands and mothering hips like the goddess, Carmella’s breasts perky and timeless. Vel’s nose—and so is Hope’s—just this side of perfect. Then there’s Gloria, whose pillowy curves ooze bedroom everything, twenty-four seven. Movies must be made about them.
As for me, I’ve got my own body parts I love to pieces, too. In time, I’ve come to treasure them all. But, it hasn’t always been so. For many of us, the journey to acceptance of our bodies and our selves can be an uphill, winding passage of rutted roads that switchback, drop off, and dead end with way too much frequency along the way.
I have a high forehead and, from my earliest memories, I’d been told that big features like mine were to be covered and minimized. No one could tell me why, and that wasn’t the point. The point was to not advertise how big my face was/is by showing it. Well, that’s not easy to do when: a.) my hair doesn’t fall naturally into my face and b.) even if it did, there would still be problems like wind and rain—weather, nature’s non-compliance—which c.) conspire to blow my lid off, thusly exposing the big-faced lie.
Back in March I had some professional pictures taken. I asked my friend Belle for her feedback, so we agreed to meet in a café to go over the images. Belle said very nice things while I told her about those early attempts to wrangle my bangs and minimize my features through equally ridiculous means. She laughed at the spectacle of me trying to keep hair in my face against the wind and other odds; I laughed too, happy to be so exposed.
Belle and I carried on for the next two hours, trading stories of the impressive feats we’d achieved in service to being passably pretty and acceptably minimized. Belle’s attempts to deflate her thighs with girdles, the right kind of stripes and diets made me think she’d been hoodwinked by beauty myths, too. It was good to laugh out loud, uninhibited in a crowded place like that. It was only right, given the time we suffered alone, quiet and diminished in the past. We teared up cackling, and it was grand.
How many collective days and hours do you reckon we’ve spent feeling less than good about our bodies because someone told us we should? No matter the shape or size, condition, color, or gender, our bodies are a wondrous blend of mystery and mechanics that run largely on what we feed them—the food we eat, the things we think, the company we keep. Our bodies are singular masterpieces, far more fetching than any painting gathering dust in some museum’s box. Our bodies are dynamic works of art that will never come this way again, so why not celebrate and bless them now? There’s no better time to embody this amazing gift, which is yours alone, no matter what.
When you take a second to contemplate the miracle of myriad synapses, history, and the infinite clicking and whirring somewhere deep within us that allow us to read love letters, to hear birds chirping, to smell cake baking, to feel sun on our shoulders, it’s staggering. When you consider we breathe the same air of our ancestors—Rumi, Toussaint, Mary, Buddha, all the great grands and more—when you realize we’re a common collection of dust, water, and minerals, that our earthly rhythms are divinely synchronized by the sun and moon, that we truly are heavenly bodies—well, how can that be anything but beautiful?
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