Not one damn thing.
That’s right. In the wise words of Edwin Starr, “absolutely nuthin’.”
Fat. Skinny. Muscular. Loose skin. Tight skin. Plastic skin. It’s hers and therefore, you have no claim to it.
I have had a love-hate relationship with my own body for more than twenty years, ever since I left that rosy pre-pubescent haze when bodies were mere vehicles in which to discover fun times. I have bemoaned my lower belly pooch, my C-section scar, my increasing wrinklage and my cellulitic thighs. (Yes, I am aware that I just made up my own neat little vocabulary there.) I have agonized over the many ways in which I do not bear resemblance to the ultrafit and shiny fitness models that tend to appear behind motivational messages set in all caps. Sometimes this results in me being Mean Girl-y to myself, but oftentimes I take an even nastier road and bash those lovely women in my head.
She must deprive herself. She is a product of Photoshop. I bet she’s a miserable stupid bitch/whore.
Seriously, self. What the f#&k?
Because I really don’t believe any of those things. I’m just jealous and more than likely in need of food/sleep/chocolate. (Chocolate is a category wholly separate from food when it hits necessity levels.) And I don’t have the right to judge any other woman based on her outward appearance any more than anyone else has the right to judge me.
I recall walking down the boardwalk in OCMD the summer after my third child was born, two years ago. I was wearing a jean skirt; it was mid-thigh, nothing revealing. And I could overhear two Jersey Shore types behind me not-so-quietly dissecting my thighs as though I were a nonperson. As though I was committing the worst sort of faux pas by not covering my legs completely on this hot summer day.
At first, I was hurt. Even now, it kind of stings. But then I thought, no. I have every right to wear this skirt. I earned those dimples and the extra weight I was carrying. I created freakin’ life with my body. What had those two done with theirs that gave them the audacity to comment on mine?
So here is what I decided: in order for you to judge my body you must have done each and every one of the following things:
1. Birthed three children via C-section (approximately 1 in 3 births).
2. Run two marathons (0.5% of the US population has finished one marathon).
3. Run various OCRs (this goes into the millions).
4. Been diagnosed with EBV (as many as 95% of the population).
5. Be an ex-chainsmoker with at least 10 years of nicotine to kick (of the 30-40% that attempt to quit, 4-5% of smokers are able to do so without help).
6. Be a WOMAN.
See, you may have done/be one or more of those things, but chances are – not all of them. We all have our own stories, our own journeys, and no two are just the same. I haven’t run a mile in your sneakers; therefore I have no grounds for judgment. So let’s make a deal, okay? I will refrain from judging you for eating fast food/wearing Crocs/watching Fox News if you refrain from judging me for taking too long to order/gnarly barnacles on my running feet/wishing Designing Women was on television 24/7.
And neither of us will utter another word nor think another negative thoughts about our own bodies or anyone else’s.
Damn, these glasses sure are rosy…