by Katina Hubbard
The recent discovery of Amelia Earhart’s freckle cream sheds light on her mysterious disappearance…and on American women’s legacy of hating our bodies!
Freckle cream? Amelia Earhart, the first woman to complete a trans-Atlantic flight and attempt to fly around the world, was trying to get rid of her FRECKLES!?!
So much so that she included the cream in her must-bring bag when she attempted to fly around the world?
Not only do I think she is drop dead gorgeous, but she was one of the most empowered woman in history: a talented, brave, and bold explorer of human limits in a world where women were intended for bearing children and stirring pots. Who gives a f*$k about her freckles?
She did. And we all do… Find me a woman who doesn’t struggle with body image and I’ll beg her to write for this blog and teach us all her secrets.
I just read a great article in the Chicago Tribune by my little* friend Eve Turow. She explains how she never truly accepted her body until she was in Southeast Asia, free from, “the bombardment of images and slogans infiltrating the female mindset to tell us what we should be.” There, at 24 years old, in Southeast Asia, she first experienced an embrace of her sexy, beautiful self for what it was.
Now, Eve is sexy. She’s gorgeous, an incredible writer, hilarious, plus she has a the-whole-room-drops-everything-and-listens voice. So I cede her the floor when she’s talking about the sexy, voluptuous women out there who feel the constant barrage of “you’re not right” messages from the world. Eve illustrates,
“As my mother reassured me since puberty that it was healthy for my thighs to touch as I stood, the long ravine of light shining between every model’s legs told me otherwise. My thighs were rotund loaves of sturdy sourdough, theirs, lengthy baguettes.”
Eve’s learning to embrace her curves, which I might add, she is so lucky to have. Because I, for one, don’t have ‘em. Give me your size 00 and the smallest brassier you’ve got and I’ll still look like a 12 year old trying on her older sister’s clothing. It sucks.
So my brow furrowed when reading Eve’s conclusion about returning to America: “Now, almost a year since my trip to Southeast Asia, I at times find my mind reverting to negative thoughts. It’s impossible with the constant images of tiny, tanned and toned women not to compare.”
Well that’s me! Tiny, tanned, and toned. No voluptuous curves or sultry lips, bras to fill or swinging hips. I’m only tiny, tanned, and toned, that’s it!
We’ve got your classic grass-is-greener trope here. So as Eve explains confidently that U.S. fashion is trending toward curvier styles: “Years of ill-fitting pants made for girls with straight figures — waists equal to hips, equal to butts — the ‘pinup’ style of the ’50s that celebrates a woman’s plump tush and child-rearing healthy thighs is on the comeback.” I’m saying good grief, if voluptuous comes back into vogue, I won’t be sexy in real-life OR in the magazines!
But I’ll yet again throw my thoughts into the garbage. Sexy isn’t specific to any body type, it’s a state of mind. It’s the way you walk, and how you carry yourself, it’s grace, dignity, honor, intelligence, and spirit.
When Eve and I both complain about our bodies, we’re exhibiting BODY CONSCIOUSNESS: we’re using our energy (time, thoughts, actions) and myriad other things to outright or silently affirm that our physical bodies are more important than our hearts, brains, and souls.
Now some people wholeheartedly believe in body consciousness. Maybe Miami Beach or Hugh Hefner or one of my buddies at an advertising agency can educate me about the merits in this. Some live in a world where the body and pleasing its needs is more important than anything else.
Not that they’re 100% wrong…Without healthy bodies we can’t think. Without healthy bodies, pain and suffering get in the way of our heart’s feelings and our soul’s whispers. Indeed, keeping the body healthy and fit as a vessel for our minds, hearts, and souls may be it’s most important job.
But when we have sex with each other without the matching intimacy, respect, and honor, we are affirming that our bodies matter more than our minds and our hearts. When we lust after images of other people (or ourselves) we are perpetuating the idea that our physical beings are more important to celebrate than our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual selves.
And bodies are great, it’s true, 14 year-old runway models make insane clothes look almost normal and wearable. But not as great as our minds – our ideas, our creativity, our unique take on things, our words, our visions, our dreams. Our bodies have nothing on our brains and our hearts, so we must treat them that way.
When I compare my body to another woman’s, I’ve lowered myself to the idea that my physical form is more important than my being. I’ve affirmed that her body is more important than her soul.
And then I feel like I’ll never be good enough. Not specifically unfit for my boyfriend or for anyone else, just plain not good enough. AS IF there’s some standard of beauty that we’re all trying to achieve and it’s a linear hierarchy with people above and below each other…
Think of the wasted energy Amelia Earhart spent on trying to remove her freckles. Honestly, I probably spend exponentially more time worrying about my body…she did fly a plane by herself across the ocean. But let’s cut the crap and stop valuing our own bodies over our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and intuitions.
I’ve started using this affirmation every time I start to judge my or another woman’s body in an attempt to free myself from this prison of body consciousness. I often find myself swinging between “she’s more beautiful than I am,” and “I’m more beautiful than she is.” But if there’s a hierarchy of beauty, than either Eve or I will end up below the other and anything less than the fact that we’re both perfectly, exquisitely beautiful, is inaccurate. You are both magnificent in our physical beauty, but more so in your mysteries, your infinite depths and endless complexities. Let’s affirm:
“HER BEAUTY IS UNFOLDING AS MY BEAUTY IS UNFOLDING”
I made this up. If you have a better one, please post it here. I need all the help I can get.
*Eve Turow is only “little” in terms of her height. She has a big personality, a big voice, and a big heart. I think of her as my “little friend” because we are friends from college, where she was a freshman in the class I was a resident advisor for. This group of people, Amherst College classes ’08 through ’10, have become lawyers, parents, teachers, and doctors, but to me, they will always be my “little friends” who I worried about getting home safely at night, passing their classes, and having an anxiety attack the first time they smoked weed.