“The woman who doesn’t require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” -Mohadesa Najumi
Being comfortable in your own skin. A strange image if you think of it. Like our skin is separate from us. As if our skin is not part of us, but some outfit we try-on after browsing the clearance rack until we are satisfied. However, our skin like the rest of our body parts is a piece that makes up the entirety of who we are. Just as much as our brain and our heart and our ass.
Every minuscule system functioning independently contributes to the amazing greatness performed by our female bodies. Without the uncomfortable monthly bloat of a woman’s cycle, you and I would not be walking this earth. The tattooed purple waves across our hips and belly tell the story of another human’s beginning. The laugh lines on our faces from experiencing so much joy it left a scar. Though, instead of marveling at the capabilities of our bodies we are quick to minimize the wonder and assign excuses to the processes our bodies are developed for.
After we cut and minimize and excuse all the wonderment of our bodies, we are damaged, flawed. Searching for means to repair the discarded deficiencies we are no longer comfortable in our skin, but crawling in. Your skin is crawling. A term of disdain. A feeling each of us recognize at one point or another. Yet, we mask the disdain by laughing off cutting remarks about our most hated body part. We tell the world and ourselves the lie. That one about not caring what anyone thinks. That is bullshit.
We all care about what others think. Try as we might to fight it. We do. Each of us have something we are proud and enjoy sharing it with others.
I am proud of my children.
I am proud of the work I do.
I am proud of my accomplishments.
Pride. A powerful emotion. I am glad to share this pride with others, however other’s opinions do not change my level of pride. I dare someone to tell me that my children aren’t the most amazing and gorgeous girls they have ever laid eyes on. I’ll take out my earrings and bitch slap you if a negative thought about my precious babies slips out of your mouth. I know my work ethic is outstanding and I am dedicated to helping others. I care to share this with the world but the world does not define this pride for me. I do.
So why for all that is holy and true, do I allow the world to determine what my amazing and marvelous body should be? Why do we care what the other people who do not walk or crawl around in our skin tell us what our skin and our magnificent body look like? I don’t know. If I have to guess, I care about what other’s think because I don’t fully accept my body for what it is. I don’t fully accept me.
Acceptance is just that. Accepting something for what is it. However, it doesn’t mean I have to like it to accept it. I don’t have to like something to accept. Damn near hating something does not change the fact that I would be better off accepting it. I don’t have to be infatuated with myself all the time to accept myself all the time. I can accept my imperfections along with my amazingness to find a place of loving myself 100% of the time. Acceptance is for me. I benefit from finding acceptance and no one can accept anything on my behalf.
Let’s examine self-acceptance. This does not mean I love myself. This does not mean I hate myself. This simply means I accept myself for who and what I am. I accept all that comes with me. I accept that I am me and that no one changes who I am. Only me. Self-esteem is pride in yourself. If acceptance is step one than this is step two and it comes with some practice.
I have pale skin. I have Scottish, Irish and German blood in my veins so extended exposure to sunlight is not my friend. From a young age I remember admiring other girls’ golden-brown skin in the summer. At the age of 12 I remember going to a pool with my best friend who was a golden-brown beauty. Before leaving home, my wise mother reminded me of my desperate need for sunscreen and the consequence I would face for returning home burnt. While throwing that thought out the window, I watched my bestie put on oil before laying out in the sun by the pool. My 12-year-old-brain thought, well when in Rome…Needless to say I received a very just consequence upon my arrival home along with a painfilled few days from frying in the sun like bacon in the pan on Sunday morning.
That is a memory which sticks with me as a lesson of acceptance. I wanted so badly to be golden-brown like my bestie. She was (and still is) beautiful! However, I realized it was physically impossible for my skin to look like that. That beauty was unattainable for this little fair-skinned ginger. I tried to do exactly what she did, but still the outcome was tight, red burning skin that eventually itched like crazy then peeled away only to return to its original shade of pale. To say the process was disappointing is an understatement. Did this mean I would never have beautiful skin? Did this mean I was less than beautiful because I didn’t have the skin pigment to turn golden-brown in the sun with a little oil added? I questioned this as a 12-year-old-girl. Would I never measure up and be beautiful?
There are days I still struggle with feeling beautiful. The first day of my WC. The third day of not washing my hair. After an ugly cry over Grey’s Anatomy. However, just like 12-year-old me I figure out a way to accept me for me. I don’t always like everything that is going on with me. I am not everyone’s cup of tea (or shot of whiskey-whichever you prefer). But, I like my own brand. My imperfections. My pale-freckled-translucent-in-the-winter skin. My stretch-mark-covered belly. My muscular think thighs. I practice accepting my brand of beauty every day. And every day I get better.
We are complicated, complex beings doing the very best with what we have. Give yourself a break. Take off the robe and put down the gavel. Pick up your pom-poms and do some freaking back-flips because you kick ass and don’t need anyone else to define what that means.