Body image is a hot topic among almost all social groups. If not talked about or blogged about, it is surely thought about. In a culture where image is emphasized on so many levels from fashion, to trends, to health, to weight and body types, and beyond, it’s easy to be in a perpetual state of discontentment and short-lived satisfaction. We are bombarded by all kinds of beauty possibilities…piercings, tattoos, make-up types & techniques, diet and exercises programs, supplements & pills, even surgical options to change and shift with the ever- evolving beauty standards. It’s easy to get sucked into the hype, even if the hype itself isn’t always bad, the obsession and objectifying of the hype is very destructive. It’s easy to jump on board the crazy train and allow the media, the friends, or the latest in’s & out’s of the world to define us. It’s easy to lose sight of the real authentic purpose of our bodies.
It happens to me often, always feeling that my plain-jane, stringy hair and straight figure will just never measure up no matter how I work it, feed it, dress it, adorn it, or change it. I will never look like “her”, or I will never have “her” abilities. But something, in recent years, deeply changed about the way I saw myself. As my body stretched, sagged, puffed, and wrinkled giving birth to motherhood, the way I viewed the reflection in the mirror transformed. As I carried my children within and then they bounced upon my hip & followed at my heels, my body was permanently altered in many ways. It continues to mold & change with time and age and wear and tear. And as I change, my sight has been broadened. My eyes opened a bit wider. I no longer see my body as a mere canvas to be adorned and decorated to fit some trend or standard. My body is a vessel. Each body is a vessel, a vessel to live and to love from, not to continually perfect or beautify. My mind, my heart, my hands, my feet, my whole self…stretch marks, tummy pooch, winkles, graying hair, and all were created to live to the fullest and to love to the fullest. Each vessel is unique with its own set of features and gifted in a perfectly distinct way, to love.
Love should be the motive behind our health habits, the way we eat & exercise, the way we care for ourselves, the way we dress ourselves, enabling us to love. Working out to look like someone else or to meet a standard set by someone else leads to emptiness, but exercising so you can have the energy and strength to love, fulfills & sustains. Eating right, getting that tattoo, wearing certain make-up, purchasing those clothes you feel great in…do it because you like it, but not because your life is all about making your body the latest & greatest. Treat your body as the beautiful vessel that you are.
Let your love for “them”, whoever you hold dear in your life, be the motive, not the “they” in the world that sets the ever-evolving trends. Have some fun decorating your beautifully crafted body whatever shape and size it comes in, because it’s your vessel to live and love from. Just don’t lose sight and don’t limit yourself to be a mere canvas that is always striving and yet never arriving, drown in comparison and never free to be yourself. Be a vessel, made to love, enabled to love, in its own unique ways, through each season of life.
- Kristine McDowell