Posted on | January 31, 2014 | 8 Comments
Over the past few years, I’ve read a lot about the “war between women,” the “war on women,” and in general, a lot of warring people mad at one or another form, sort, or type of woman. There’s the breast v. bottle war, the stay-at-home v. working mom war, the vaccine v. anti-vaccine war, the pro-choice v. pro-life war … and so on and on and on and…. on. It seems that for all of our “if women were in charge there’d be less war” talk, there are an awful lot of angry women who are inexplicably angry at, well, other women.
I’ve spent years feeling the stir of hatred when I saw a petite, blonde, 20 year old with perfect abs devouring a cheeseburger. It’s taken a lot of swallowing down unintentional bile that rises when I see a perfect figure, convince myself that she’s never had kids, then watch as a trio of toddlers clamber up her legs screaming “Mommy!” Hell, for a while, I even ridiculously hated the women my ex-husband dated after me because dammit, I wanted them to take MY side. It’s taken a lot of moments of sheer disgust towards other women for me to finally understand where the real problem lies.
The fact is, we women, more particularly ME, woman, have bought in to the lie that we have a shelf life.
We’ve basically agreed that in order to be a woman, we have to pinch, prod, stretch, inject, diet, exercise and if all else fails surgically make ourselves look like a well-formed, well-dressed, well-coiffed 19 year old. We bought that, hook, line, and sinker. And I’ll admit to being just as bad as the next. When I went out with Banks for New Year’s Eve and all the women in the room were in their 20’s and I was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable not because they were making me uncomfortable… I was uncomfortable because I was making MYSELF uncomfortable. They were busy being twenty, all taut and tanned in perfect places and I, in my jeans and top was uncomfortable because I didn’t look like them… because I CAN’T look like them. Because, let’s face it, no one over twenty SHOULD look like them.
I had a lousy time on New Year’s Eve because I spent the evening sizing myself up against these gorgeous, young, women who weren’t doing anything offensive and yet, I was offended.
So I spent a lot of time thinking about why I was so uncomfortable around those young women, because… obviously that’s what I do. I thought about why I felt awkward and unkempt, strange and… well… OLD. And the only thing I know for certain is that it’s ridiculous that I let my own personal insecurities erode my ability to enjoy an evening out with the man I love. He wasn’t ogling them. He was as attentive and sweet as he always was. I was the only one of the two of us who paid them any attention at all.
Because I was jealous.
Because deep down, I believed in the lie that I have to look like them to be beautiful. I believed that after reaching thirty I couldn’t be attractive to anyone, least of all myself.
You know what though? I am never going to look like those girls. Because I’m not those girls. What I am, is a 36 year old me. I work out. I try to eat healthy. I twist and turn myself in front of full length mirrors and then twist and turn my mouth in strange shapes as I survey the damage… or let’s call it the delight that 36 years of life have rendered on my body. I have curves and shapes and cellulite. I have a jiggle under my arms that I wish would disappear. I have flaws that make me less perfect to a magazine but damn. Shouldn’t those things make me more perfect to myself? Shouldn’t I, of all people, embrace the me that 36 years of life has made?
If I learned anything from my night out on New Years’ Eve, it’s that the only person bringing me down, is me. The only person fighting and arguing and burying myself deep in the bunkers of this self-imposed hell is… well… me. The person who makes me feel insecure, less attractive, less perfect is and has always been only me. Because, as they say, other people’s opinions of you are none of your business, right?
So if I just stop believing there’s anyone out there who looks better than me at being me… if we just stop believing the lie that we’re battling each other for the attention of well, someone… well then.
What happens then?