My body has long ago stopped being conventionally beautiful, but is that a problem?
CW: body shaming/body issues
I am nearly forty-one. Long gone are the glory days when my skin was smooth and supple, when I easily fit into a (UK) size 4 and when my stomach was flat. In my early twenties I conformed almost completely with society's standard of beauty; the only things missing were my height and my hair (not the prescibed long blond hair, rather a short pixie cut before this became popular).
This was all before Life happened to me. Twenty years of life, to be precise. My skin is drier than it used to be. My hips are rounder, my thighs fuller and none of it is smooth. My belly is thicker and oddly shaped. Only my breasts have defied age and gravity - so far. It won't be long until they, also, succomb to the inevitable.
I see fellow sex bloggers post revealing pictures of themselves on Twitter and on their blogs and I wish my body would look that good in photographs. Instead...well, you can see for yourself in the picture above. Not really the type of body you typically see in advertisements for lingerie. Maybe I should just stay covered up.
How did this happen? How did I let myself go so much? Why did my weight creep up so that I no longer fit into a size 4, but rather a size 12? Where did it all go wrong? Of course something like this does not happen overnight. So let me break it down.
First, I was diagnosed with endometriosis after having struggled with it for over 15 years. That was the first surgery.
Then I became pregnant, which leads to the inevitable stretch marks. This pregnancy ended in a C-section, accounting for the next scar on my tummy.
Then I became pregnant again and my body had to change once again to accommodate another tiny human being growing inside me. This also ended in a C-section, so the old scar was opened again.
Then I had surgery to take my gall bladder out. While this was done though laparoscopy, it still left scars.
And finally I had a hysterectomy to hopefully treat the endometiosis once and for all. I also had to have my ovaries taken, so this surgery resulted in not only another set of scars, but also a huge change in hormones which in itself had a bearing on my body.
And finally, I aged. Even if it hadn't been because of the above, my body still would have changed due to age. Or stress. Or both. My body has endured a lot. A lot of pain. Two pregnancies. Multiple surgeries. But it's still here. It's still capable of givng me a LOT of pleasure. It may not conform to the very narrow standards of beauty in our society, but it is beautiful nevertheless.
Beauty isn't a twenty-something old skinny white woman with blond hair and long legs. Beauty is so much more than that. We are all beautiful. We all have our own journeys with our bodies. And yes, sometimes our bodies make us upset because of the way other people react to us. But we are all beautiful. Beauty comes in many forms - why should we limit the standards of beauty to something very few women can attain? We will all age, and that is something to be celebrated. Our bodies show signs of the years we have lived, and hopefully we have lived well. We should be thankful for that.
In the end, I know my body is amazing. It is - no I am - beautiful. I don't take any nude selfies. (Even though my husband would love it if I did.) But maybe I should. And maybe one day I will be brave enough to have my body professionally photographed. In the nude. In all its flawed glory.