This last weekend I attended the wedding of a very special friend. I’m not normally the type to fret about a new outfit for each important occasion but I really wanted to look and feel great when celebrating such a wonderful day. My husband and I were also asked to speak in the main part of the service – a huge honour – so I spent weeks searching for something I’d feel confident in.
I eventually found a gorgeous cotton floral dress that I felt I totally rocked, so on the day I felt great, positive and beautiful for the first time in a while.
But yesterday a fellow guest at the wedding – a wonderful friend of mine – posted on Instagram a photo of us and other friends at the wedding, and in short any level of confidence I had has been shot to hell.
From my view I can only see:
- terrible haircut choice – recent fringe and chop to spice things up
- a frumpy dress
- a round face
- weight on my arms I’d not seen before
- my stunning friend beaming next to me in her gorgeous lilac frock
Why can’t I see beyond those things? Why can I only see the weathered skin, my baggy eyes, the weight I now carry?
Why can’t I see the warrior, who:
- grew a human
- stored up energy and fat to give her baby inside and outside
- rocks those beautiful wide hips that, yes, are wider since delivering
- survives with continued disruptions each night at 3am & 5am
Sure, it’s a bad photo. I’m awkwardly posed and front on with hair blown about by the wind. But those things should not matter.
I’m tired of being a woman who constantly makes excuses for her appearance. Who apologises for not looking her best. For having to allocate unnecessary capacity in my already exhausted, drained and minimally-functioning brain for those tricks that ‘make you look better on camera’: slimming poses, my ‘good’ side, remember to flatten your fringe before a shot etc.
It got me thinking about women’s bodies and how we age. We seem to deteriorate quicker than men. Or that’s the narrative we are sold early on. Young women are beautiful. Pregnant women are beautiful. Mothers are used goods, being sucked dry of anything that used to make them beautiful.
I hate that these sentiments pervade my subconscious. That I envy men for their ability to ‘remain youthful’ even all of those ideas are entirely conceptual and what even is ageing but a process that EVERYONE goes through.
Why can’t I just see that women are god damn warriors from day 1? That a mother is the true Athena. That I am beautiful with or without the praise or recognition from others or even from myself.