In a Facebook group I’m a part of, a woman asked that we post pictures of our “perfectly imperfect” selves, pictures from our recent lives, because our bodies from ten or twenty years ago aren’t serving us now. In fact, she said, “your best body is the one you have carrying you through life TODAY. “
My best body, the one I’m in today, is not what I want it to be. If you ever see me out and I don’t look put together, it’s probably because I haven’t looked in the mirror recently. I don’t. Because then I would see what she termed my “best body” looking back at me, and I might see it from an angle I don’t want to see. I know exactly how to stand so that I can’t actually see all of me. Maybe I’ll check to make sure my lipstick is on straight, but I don’t actually look at my whole self. So when I do catch my reflection in a mirror I’m not used to, one where I see more of my body than just the sliver I allow myself to look at, I’m honestly shocked to find that I’m fat. It’s not that I don’t know that, but normally I just get on with my day and forget it. It’s not central to how I think of myself until I have to face the evidence.
I am now practicing seeing my best body, the one carrying me through life today, through other people’s eyes. They see all of me and don’t seem to try to just focus on one part and ignore the rest.
(I don’t trust my own eyes, because all they see are flaws: too big, too curvy, eye squinks up like Pop-eye when I smile, smile too big, hair starting to gray.)
I’m practicing using their eyes until I can trust my own again. My husband sees me and says I’m beautiful. My children see the person they love to lean against as we read or sit on the porch swing. They see the person who laughs loudly, who drives to practices and away games, who always thinks it’s time for ice cream. Their eyes see beauty.
My best body, the one I’m in today, is strong. It has carried three babies, holding them and nurturing them until they entered the world. And then it has carried them, holding them and nurturing them in new ways as they entered the world. It has carried me through grad school, through dissertation, through jobs, through tenure. It has carried my own stress, and the sorrows of others. It has carried me through three surgeries in the past four years. It has carried; it is carrying.
It is carrying me through life today. And it is good.