My body has gone through many many changes in my 50 plus years. Growing up into a girl who then got her period on the day of a 7th grade camping trip. Valuing myself only for my body as an angry teen. Living the religion of pretty, fit, and desirable in my 20’s and 30’s. And all the changes that come with motherhood at 38 and 46 directly followed by perimenopause. And then the Covid pandemic lockdown weight gain.
And while I was grieving and raging about these inevitable changes, making judgments about my body and promises to correct them, my relationship with my body image changed. My distended belly and flappy arms are not the me I remember. I could no longer tolerate seeing my whole body in mirrors. But my exercise classes happen in rooms with mirrors.
After our lockdown kept me away for far too many months, I returned to my exercise classes. But I avoid looking at myself in the mirror. I watch as these other young women look at themselves in those mirrors. It fascinates me to see how enthralled they are with themselves and so beautiful. I envy them and I suspect them.
Part of me has always raged against the objectification which being a woman automatically subjects us too. I am angry and I may also be angry that I can no longer fulfill that purpose. That I have to prove my worth another way and I don’t quite know how.
This quote from Margaret Atwood speaks of the trapped feeling of being our own voyeurs; “Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”
I desperately need to find a place to be OK with where and how I am in my life and be compassionate of my struggle to be where I am and make a change for the better. But I know I have to stand and claim something really big here. Until then, I will not move onward. And I truly want to move out of this uncomfortable place sooner than later.
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