Curves and Edges

There I was. Going about my day, taking one kid to camp and the other to his therapy appointments and I stopped for a minute to check my email. And there it was, right in the subject line:

"You're beautiful underneath it all."

Huh?

The email is from Lolë, a Canadian lifestyle company that I quite like and whose products I buy regularly (and therefore why I get their emails). It is an ad for their new "delicate, feminine underpinnings" line of products and I assume they are trying to say that what you wear under your clothes can be beautiful too. The problem is, that is NOT really what they are saying.

They are saying that *YOU* are beautiful underneath *IT* all. And maybe I am overly sensitive to this kind of thinking/speaking/messaging, but then again, maybe I am not.

"There is a skinny person in there just trying to get out."

"You've got lots of muscle tone, it's just covered up with that extra layer."

"Once you lose X amount of weight, you'll look and feel so much better."

These are all things that have been said to me in my lifetime.

Women are bombarded every day with these kinds of messages and with clothing options to cover our flaws, that use "slimming" technologies and push up or pull in various parts of our bodies to fit the styles and trends of the times and the ever present single layer version of beauty. We have to worry about muffin top, back fat, waving underarms, and the dreaded thigh gap. We are told over and over to love ourselves, no matter what size, shape, or colour we are, and then companies fill magazines and commercials and store shelves full of products and messages that are meant to help us change all of those things.

Love your skin, but here, make sure you remove all that hair, cover up/lighten those spots, and please! do something to smooth over all that cellulite.

Love your face, but don't let it get all wrinkly and *gasp* OLD!

Love your hair, but maybe it should be shinier, fuller, longer, and have more volume.

Love your body and go on and wear that bathing suit, but make sure it pushes up the girls, slims out your belly and here's a great video with 77 ways to use a sarong cover up, because really, no one wants to actually see that.

But don't worry, because you are beautiful underneath it all.

And we buy it. I buy it. I wear clothes strategically to cover my "flaws". I have a drawer FULL of anti-aging products to reduce fine lines, not so fine ones and everything in-between. And I have a love/hate... mostly hate relationship with my bathroom scale and what I think it tells me about me and my body.

I love this line from John Legend's song, All of Me.

'Cause all of me Loves all of you Love your curves and all your edges All your perfect imperfections

I realize that this is a love song about and sung to someone else, but sometimes when I am alone in my car and it comes on the radio, I'll turn up the volume really loud and sing it TO MYSELF. To remind myself that I have curves and edges and a lot of perfect imperfections. And that I love ALL of me. That all of me, JUST AS I AM, is worthy of love and happiness and that I am beautiful.

allofme

Not underneath anything.

Not despite anything.

Not when I am tucked in, slimmed down, covered up and/or made up.

And the same goes for you too.

You are beautiful. FULL STOP.

XO,

n~

 

 

skinny mirrors, curves and entitlement.

I am washing my hands in the washroom of a greasy spoon diner.

I look up and see myself in the mirror.

I back up a few steps to get a better look at all of me and the outfit of the day.

Hmm... not bad.

And then I decide that this must be one of those 'skinny mirrors'.

..............

This is what it has come to. I am a 41 year old woman, pretty secure in who and what I am and I still have a hard time looking at myself in a mirror without sucking in my cheeks, holding by breath as I suck in my  belly and standing up on my tippy toes to create something that I have been taught to believe everyone else thinks is beautiful.

If I do happen to think that I look nice on any particular day, my automatic assumption isn't "Natasha- YOU are beautiful!" it is "what's wrong with this mirror?".

How's that for some messed up thinking?

And I am not sure how, but this insidious thinking is seeping into my little girl's brain too. Yesterday we were getting ready to go outside to do some yard work and she wanted to wear one of her skirts. I said no, that she needed to change into pants. She proceeded to dramatically crumple to the ground in tears claiming that if she was to wear pants that "no one will think I am beautiful!" My BRILLIANT response? "Don't worry honey, Mommy is wearing sweats, so I am not beautiful today either." Thank goodness parenting is a two-person job in our house, as my husband quickly came to the rescue before I inadvertently killed all her self-esteem and said "EVERYONE here is beautiful, we need to wear pants to stay warm. End of story."  Logic, that's what my husband brings to the party.

It is no secret that we have a messed up vision of what beauty is in our society. Fashion magazines, TV commercials, giant billboards, all of these things are bombarding us on a daily basis and no matter how hard we try to block it out, this kind of marketing, this perpetual visual reminder of all the "beautiful people" gets into our brains. And into the brains of our little ones too.

Last week the talented, hilarious and beautiful actress Melissa McCarthy was featured on the cover of ELLE magazine in their 'Women in Hollywood' issue. She was photographed in one of fall's hot trends, the oversized jacket and the internet went bonkers! Why? Because she was TOO covered up! Because the photographer did not highlight her curves. Because it can't be a cover shot if there is no skin showing DAMNIT!!

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I get it. I get that this is not what we are accustomed to seeing on the cover of magazines. We're used to seeing the thin women in barely there outfits with every supposed 'flaw', every extra pound, every wrinkle, zit, or oversized pore airbrushed to oblivion, (mis)representing the "beautiful people". We all then compare ourselves to this flawless (and photoshopped) ideal that we inevitably are never able to measure up to, you know, because we are not all made from the same human perfection mold.

I looked at that shot of Melissa and thought, 'DAMN girl, you look amazing!' I felt more of a kinship to someone on the cover of a fashion mag than I have in a long time. And then I read a bunch of articles shaming ELLE for covering her up, and tweets from people wanting to see more skin, more of her body and all I could think was how seriously EFF'ed up a society we are that we feel somehow ENTITLED to a woman's body and cheated when we don't get to see as much of it as we want!

I know that the point of all the internet hullabaloo is the double standard. That the thinner women get the skimpy outfits and the full-figured women get covered up. That seems to be the message and the point that everyone from xoJane to HuffPo to Slate and beyond are making in their critique of the cover, but I think this issue goes deeper than that. How is it that somehow if a full-figured woman is in a magazine that she automatically becomes the poster child for curvy ladies everywhere? You don't think that these same media outlets and all the folks demanding to see more of her curves wouldn't be as critical (in a totally different way of course) if she was photographed in a swimsuit?

And do I have to point out as well, that not two weeks before everyone was all, "OMG, don't cover up Melissa, we should see more of her", EVERYONE was telling Miley to "PUT SOME DAMN CLOTHES ON GIRL!!" It seems that we just can't win, so matter what size we are or how much or little we are wearing.

I am a curvy girl, I've got the proverbial junk in my trunk, a 32F bra size and somewhat of a leftover belly from having my babies.  And I can tell you that I feel ten times sexier rocking an oversized sweater, jeans and a gorgeous pair of boots, or a maxi dress with some awesome earrings than I ever do in a bathing suit or a skin tight dress that is supposed to "celebrate" all those luscious curves of mine. I know that I would much rather define my beauty according to my standards and comfort in my own skin, than one dictated by a messed up society looking for some skin and a bit more cleavage!

I also have a daughter who, although she shares my husbands and my DNA equally, is my physical mini-clone. And she is the most beautiful creature I have ever set my eyes on. There is no way I am going to let her believe that there is only one way to be beautiful and I am going to make damn sure she knows that no one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE is entitled to seeing, touching or being privy to any part of her body at any time in her life. I don't care what magazine she may or may not eventually be gracing the cover of (crosses all the things and hopes it is Forbes).

Love yourselves my fellow beautiful women, and know that NO, that is not a "skinny mirror", that is all you baby, no airbrushing required!

natasha~