I rarely feel beautiful. I’ve been thinking about it after reading this post “Feeling Beautiful – It’s Up to You” at Sex Diaries of a Mom. (Yes, sex and mom in the same title which is why I like it so much. ) The gist of the post is you need to find what makes you feel beautiful in your post-baby mom body and celebrate it. The gist is there is a lot of beauty in post-baby mom bodies . . . which, frankly, is nice to hear in our air-brushed, non-jiggle, plastic boobed Barbie world, even if it comes from another mom.
For me, it isn’t the mom thing that stops me from feeling beautiful. (That makes me often feel invisible as a woman . . . maybe it’s the same thing). I’ve rarely felt beautiful since I hit puberty. I have had a long and complicated relationship with my body, specifically my weight. It is somewhat amazing I never ended up with an eating disorder. (I think the only reason is because one of the few things I hate more than feeling fat is throwing up.) I wasn’t an overweight child, but once I hit puberty, something changed and I have been overweight since, not grossly, but enough for my to develop a deep and bottomless complex about being “the fat girl.”
I’ve always been very physically active, but despite the dancing, the workouts, and all the dieting — the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers and Weight Watchers again and then Weight Watchers on-line, and the woman that told me I couldn’t eat gluten or soy or sugar or wheat or dairy (I was left with spelt and leafy greens) and the book that said I needed to eat for my blood type and some diet that said I could only eat one meal a day and I could eat anything I wanted, but I had to eat it within a 30 minute time period (those were some epic meals) . . . despite all of that, my body refuses to give up the belly fat. My body LOVES belly fat.
I rarely feel beautiful.
The Sex Diaries of a Mom post suggests some of the standard things for feeling beautiful — flirt with your husband, wear things that make you feel pretty — none of that has ever worked well for me. I feel pretty if the person looking at me reflects it back to me in words or actions (isn’t that a nice way of saying I fish for compliments?). But if I don’t get that outside feedback, I don’t feel pretty, much less beautiful in those situations. So I’ve been thinking, do I ever feel beautiful?
I’m sitting at the computer right now. 10 minutes ago I bowed out at the end of a thai kickboxing class. Thai kickboxing is my latest obsession hobby. The workouts are brutal and I am completely addicted to them. I LOVE it.
Right now, I am sweaty and smelly and very sore. My sports bra is soaking wet. My shirt is stuck to my back. My underwear is bunched up. My hair is dripping and matted to my head. My ankle is throbbing. The bottoms of my feet are black from the mat. My quads are burning. My arms feel like lead weights hanging from my shoulders. You could probably smell me before you saw me.
And I feel beautiful.
My eyes are bright and my cheeks are flushed and I feel beautiful.
I feel beautiful because I am proud of my strength and my stamina. I am proud of my ability to not only make it through those workouts, but get better every time. I can do push-ups — lots of push-ups. I can do crunches, bicycles, evil things called Inchworms. I have muscles in my chest and arms. I know how to throw a punch. I have a mean right hook. I can do a round kick over my head. I can kick a 7 foot boxing target over.
I am strong. I am coordinated, even graceful sometimes. My body is powerful.
I have to remember that is more important than looking good in a bikini.
I have to remember this is what it feels like to be beautiful.