This is me. I am 44 1/2 years old. I do yoga whenever I can and I think I may have discovered a love for hiking. I have Fibromyalgia, which makes hardcore workouts very difficult, as my body is in constant pain – unless I drastically increase the dose for the meds I am on. Cause of the FM is that I suffer from PTSD, which means I have to keep my stress levels at a minimum; this is hard to do, given that my normal cortisol output is always elevated. I literally run higher strung than normal people; and that sucks.
I am fighting genes. High blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, gastritis and pancreatitis run in my family; the latter killed my mother when she was 48 years old. It almost killed my sister three years ago. I have managed to avoid these issues with a fairly healthy diet and exercise. I quit smoking a few years ago, I don’t really drink and I was never one for drugs.
I work a corporate job and I’ll leave it at that. The point here is that I have a full-time career, which sometimes demands more and sometimes less.
Why am I telling you this? Because I am trying to make a point. When I look at myself, I see the average woman. I have a career, I pay my bills, sure, I sport some tattoos and spiky hair, but otherwise I am just doing what all of us are doing – trying to do the best I can. I live my life with a high level of integrity, honesty and decency, but I don’t have the perfect body; and I have been rejected for that in the past.
I have struggled my entire life to gain acceptance from a society that favors unrealistic expectations of how a woman should look like; not just from a weight perspective, but on all levels imaginable. I spent thousands of dollars on diets, personal trainers, workout equipment, fitness club memberships and therapy. At the ripe age of 40 I started to actually love and accept myself. Does that mean I gave up and simply said “screw it?” No, it doesn’t mean that. I am still dragging my butt into yoga, even when I hurt and when my vinyasas are painful and I have to take breaks. I try and keep striving to be healthy, strong and fit and trust me, none of this comes natural to me. It has been a struggle my entire life – and yes, I was the fat kid in school they made fun of. Yes, I do have struggled with body image and weight issues my entire life.
It took so many years to finally love myself. And talking to my fellow sisters, they all have struggled with this at some point; some of them still do. The older we get, the harder it is to be desirable when you live in a society that bought some notion of eternal youth and beauty, sold by the images of movie stars – who couldn’t be further away from the “real” world if they tried; models – who are less than 1% of the population, or porn stars – who hardly describe how the average woman looks, feels, works and operates.
Imagine if all men would have to look like Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt or Bradley Cooper, just to name a few. Imagine if we’d expect our men to have an average penis size of at least <–insert porn star penis size here, and imagine how it would be like if we’d expect our men to look like a Calvin Klein model or Chris Hemsworth. I don’t know any woman who has these unreasonable expectations – myself included!
However, having to look like some barbie/model/movie star is something that gets imposed on us women all the time. Men are not as forgiving when it comes to our flaws. It is normal for a guy in his 50s to date a girl in her 20s and it often feels like “game over” when you are an average woman in her 40s or 50s. Make that double hard when you have the average body; or worse, when you don’t (unless you are super thin)!
So, here I stand – the whole 5’3″ with hips, thighs, belly, chest and all, letting you know that beauty is not just external. Beauty comes in other sizes but 0 and 1. I stand here saying that I don’t need to look or behave like a porn star to be sexy. I do not need to have the body of an actress or model to be beautiful. I am these things by the very nature of my being – my actions, thoughts and words.
Beauty and sex appeal lie within the way we move, hold our head high, carry ourselves, walk, talk, think and behave. These traits are held within the wisdom we share, the knowledge we have and the confidence that we acquire by the time we become real women. We may not have the perfect body (anymore), but we know how to love, share, give, receive and we are better lovers because of it. We don’t need your money and we don’t need you to take care of us. We have the freedom to invite you into our lives because we want you there, not because we need you there.
Women – with great power comes great responsibility. Our responsibility is to celebrate and love ourselves, even when society tries to tell us that we are never quite good enough. We are/you are beautiful and enough! So, here it is, a big hooray for T&A!