I like to think that I am normal in most ways. As many women in our country, perhaps the majority of the women in this country, I am less than satisfied with my body. I mean, it works fine, not counting the occasional arthritic glitch now and then and that should be enough for me. I should be happy with that much. But, since I am fortunate to have a body that works fairly well, I also want a body that looks pretty good. Actually, I want a body that looks fabulous.
I used to have one. On June 6, 1976 from noon to approximately 4 p.m., I was very pleased with my body. We were going swimming and I had my suit on. I’d been to the kitchen for something and was walking back through the living room. The sun was shining behind me and I saw myself silouetted in the hall mirror. Whoa! Who was that? Where did those curves come from? When did that happen to me? I looked like a . . . a woman! I looked like a movie star! I had a waist! And boobs! I was curvalicious!!!! I was totally in love with me!!! I couldn’t wait to get to the pool and show all the other kids!
We left the house and walked the five or six blocks to the neighborhood pool. Well, my brother ran back and forth, back and forth, my sister walked and I strutted. I sashayed, I undulated, I vamped and preened, arched my back and stuck my chin up in the air. I not only had a swing in my backyard, I had an entire playset, $99.99 from Sears and Roebuck. Ttsssss! Hot stuff!
We got to the pool. I decided that tanning was the more likely showcase for my gorgeous new figure than swimming and splashing. I figured if any of the cute boys were ever going to ask me to climb up on their shoulders and play Chicken, today would be the day. I figured all I had to do was stretch out on that hot pavement and maybe reach strategically for my baby oil once in a while. Hey! Maybe today was also the day that one of those cute boys would volunteer to put baby oil on my back? With a figure like mine, who knew?
"Hey! Hey you!" I looked languidly over my shoulder. As I expected, I thought. There were two guys outside the chain link fence. I was enough of a child that day, despite the evidence of my new curves, to think of them as "big boys." "Hey girl! Come over here." I didn’t know them. I didn’t know what they wanted. No clue. So, up I hopped and over I went. "Yeah?"
"Hey. Whachoo doin’? What’s your name?" I told them. I waited for them to tell me what was up. It seemed like the conversation was going nowhere in particular and I was getting bored. I wanted to get back to preening. And then it occurred to me. They didn’t want to talk to me! They wanted to talk to my figure! It wouldn’t matter whose head was attached because they were not just wandering past the pool wishing to have an intelligent conversation. Oh no, they were not!
I was shocked! I was insulted. I was outraged! I had grown up hanging out around the edges of my mother’s women lib. meetings, snagging donuts and half listening and BAM! I knew what was happening! I was being objectified. And, true child of my mother, I was not having it. And I told them so. I have told you before that I was High Queen of the Land of Dorks. In fact, I told them in no uncertain terms, in a loud clear voice, a voice that all the cute boys in the pool were sure to hear. They high tailed it. No cute boys asked me to play Chicken or anything else that day or that summer.
But, for a few hours that summer when I was fourteen, I felt gorgeous. That was about the last time. Ever since I have always thought that bits of me were too small and other bits were too big, or too lumpy or too saggy. But the next few years are just about my last hurrah! If I don’t love myself and enjoy my good health and the body that the years and four children have given me, then I am going to end up smooth out of luck! I will never be younger than I am right now, nor any better looking.
So, I am going to try to recapture that magical afternoon in 1976. I am going to look in the mirror, squench up my eyes real hard and pretend to be that little girl. I am going to try to think that I am just fine the way I am.