I struggle every day with body image. It goes back ages and ages, to when the earth's crust cooled and I was born. I've never felt comfortable in my skin. I've always been embarrassed by my looks - the whole of me, big head, big butt, jiggly thighs, abundance of chins, round shoulders, the loaf of French bread that sits atop my waist band, the face only a mother could love - and sometimes she had trouble. But it's me, and I've grown to accept it. I'm never going to be the stereotypical beauty, and over time I've found gratitude for that.
Sometimes it's a battle, though. A few weeks ago, I saw myself in the window while I was out to lunch with some of my co-workers. I had to change seats; I kept catching glimpses of myself out of the corner of my eye, and I just couldn't stand to look at myself. Then last week I went with Shakespeare while she tried on dresses for a wedding she's going to be in. Have you ever been to the wedding dress store? Mirrors and mirrors and mirrors. I had to focus on my friend, because every now and then I'd see me, and I just couldn't look. I feel prettier than the girl I see, and when faced with my own reflection, I'm shocked and sad. I'd rather not look.
And then, sometimes, there are moments of true appreciation, moments when I shock myself with acceptance and even (gasp!) love. Last night, after an hour of Ninja class (I'm back to using weights for the first time after surgery, and it felt awesome!) and an hour of salsa, I stayed for yoga. I was stretching over my left leg, grasping my ankle with my right hand, and I thought to myself, "That is a pretty foot." Now I've always liked my feet, and my ankles. There's a delicate beauty to them, and maybe there's something in the way that they carry me through every day that makes me appreciate them. But there I was, in yoga class, with my brain all open and mushy as often happens when I've stretched myself both physically and mentally, and the one thought that enters my head is that my foot is pretty.
I know it's just a foot. I know I'm a far cry from feeling as whole, complete and perfect as I intellectually believe I am. But in those moments, I am so grateful to see even the tiniest part of myself as beautiful. It's a small step, but isn't that what feet are for?