1950’s Ideal Woman’s Body
Who says a size 12 is Fat! Who decides that generous curves are not beautiful. I grew up believing that a size 12 was an marvelous size for a woman, and that this model was sexy and gorgeous. A woman had a soft belly, flesh on her arms, and hips that she could swing. Mae West allegedly once said: “Cultivate your curves they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.” Did Mae West or this model worry that she wouldn’t be loved or liked because of how she looked? There is definitely beauty in a smile, in sparkling eyes, and open arms In the next few blogs I want to explore what Beauty means to all of us now. We can use words to hurt ourselves or use those same words to build our self-esteem.
Today I am a size 12 and I have to stop myself constantly comparing myself to the size 2 woman and thinking I am enormous. I have quite a few more scars than this model, but we are not shaped so differently. I am decades older than she is in the photo, and my belly bulges a bit more than hers and there’s extra flesh on my arms that swings. My ass maybe a little more generous, and my thighs rub when I sweat. But how am I not still beautiful? My negative self-talk says that my beauty is only on the surface. My self-esteem says what matters most is literally seeing the beauty in myself and other people.
I did a casual survey on FB on what people thought was beautiful. All ten women who responded said that beauty was in the eyes, the soul, and the heart. One woman said that developing and holding onto a moral integrity was beautiful. Another woman said that being pretty was very different from being beautiful. One woman said “I may look and feel like an arse, but my hubbie, and children make me feel beautiful.” Everyone of them made a distinction between outward appearances and how we feel inside, or how others love makes us feel. How do you define beauty? When do you feel beautiful?
“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
Though we come to this path of recovery shattered, fragmented pieces of ourselves we are still beautiful human beings. The actions and substances we have taken in an effort to feel whole and complete are the very things that have left us in this broken state. We find in recovery through the 12 steps something that will actually mend the broken pieces. Through recovery we discover our own beauty.
We are mended using what we can call the gold powder of the 12-Steps, yoga, meditation, connection with a higher power and being of service to others. These are the elements that make up the golden lacquer of the path of recovery. When we use these tools as the golden glue in which to mend our broken pieces, something incredible happens. We become transformed into an entirely new being more beautiful than what our original self could have been.
When we look in the mirror, our cracks are still there, filled in now with unique golden lines. We see the cracks and our defects of character more clearly. Maybe we felt like fragile dolls before, too vulnerable, too fragile to live without our addictions. Through recovery we know where we have been and we are better now for having been there. We continue to take personal inventories, and make amends whenever necessary. We have combined our fragility with resilience to find a life of such richness that we never could have imagined. We have been damaged, have a history, but now we are more beautiful with our scars and cracks filled in with the golden powder of recovery.
September is national recovery month. What comes to your mind when I say recovery? Recently at a Yoga and recovery retreat at Yogaville, VA I heard this: “What do they mean by recovery? I just had oral surgery, and I am recovering from the treatment. Is that recovery?” In her experience she was in recovery. I have been in recovery from cancer, and in recovery from addictions. Both have their unique challenges.
For most of us who are in recovery from a physical, mental and emotional addiction, our only solution is a spiritual one. Reaching for a spiritual solution is opening to a power greater than the everyday minutiae of life. That power is beautiful and all about love. Finding that beauty in me, and the universe around me is a huge part of my recovery. My spirituality is always creative; it is at the center of all that is good, noble, and inspiring.
For most of my life I have had an awareness of the beauty of this world and an appreciation of what people can produce. Sobriety has made my writing as an art form more accessible. Sobriety helps me to broaden my horizons and see all the beauty around me. Today I see beauty everywhere in paintings, sculpture, music, literature, and the art of nature. Personally I cannot paint or draw more than stick figures, however, I appreciate and have a feeling of belonging to the beauty of this world. In a sense, it all happens and takes shape through me. The deepening of my spirituality has brought the beauty of the universe into my life to a greater level than I thought possible.
Today I know I walk in beauty. My meditation is: thank you for the desire and ability to re-create Your splendor through my experiences.
Thank god no one has ever called me pretty,
I am too fast and furious for trivial things.
The first six months of my life I slept in a baby carriage,
rolling through the shifts from room to room
I watched the ceilings as I lay on my back.
Today I never wear hats; they flatten my curly brown hair,
unlike cool slim blondes, who make the art of
wearing hats look pretty and important. Continue reading
Emily Dickinson said, “Beauty is not Caused. It Just is.”
One of the most heartbreakingly beautiful sights I have seen in a long while was a lightning blasted apple tree. Though half of her body was gone to age, or to disease, the remaining trunk stood tall and held the limbs that sprang from her side. The half that was gone provided a stump to lean back on when we visited. Where the lightning had stung the bark was scared black but shone in the sun as if it was polished. In the spring brave blossoms would appear on her remaining limbs. In the summer leaves provided shade while the blossoms filled out to become sweet apples. In the fall her leaves would turn golden while her fruit would ripen. Her winter glamour was her position as a sentinel at the top of hillside. Who knows her story? Was she the last of an orchard? Was she a memorial to someone’s beloved? How can we not see her beauty?
How do you see or observe beauty around you? Do you see the extraordinary you find around you in the commonplace? Do you have an “apple tree” in your life that is beautiful by your standards?