The Real Body Project
What is the REAL BODY Project and why bother in a time where everything is tumultuous? Listen, your skin bag is what carries your soul through this life. Your experience in this life is a direct result of how you feel in your body. Cultivating suffering through adopting OTHER PEOPLE's idea of what you should look like is NO BUENO. If there is one thing you can CHANGE, beginning NOW, it is how we view what a woman should look like. (Oh, and guys, or other identifications of gender, feel free to get in this too. I am a woman and can only speak from my experience).
At some point we are trying to figure out who we are. The Cosmic School of Life doles out some kick butt tests for us to figure that out. It could come in the form of a car accident, "empty nest syndrome", winning the lottery, having a baby, losing your soulmate, or biological phases (Hellloooooo I'm-bout-to-be-old-AF-pause) I am finding this last example, aging and all the associated aches, pains, anxieties, and shape shifting to be super interesting. Alright, what I really mean is frustrating, challenging and downright HARD.
I have enjoyed several years of feeling fucking fantastic in my body. I liked how it looked, performed and felt (to me and to others!). Then one day shit changed. And I mean ONE DAY. I always thought women who said that were delusional. So let me apologize to each of you right now.
All of a sudden it was if my body was insulated with a layer of blubber that wasn't present before. My whole body ached. If it didn't ache, my abdomen felt like a water balloon, or a gaseous, bubbling sewer. My skin decided to go sideways and now I have this incurable condition called Eternal Sunburn of the Spot Ridden Forehead.
Let's talk about the Fun Zone called my head. Some days I feel paranoid. Some days it's a computer that has been wiped clean. Some days I am exuberant. Some days I am bursting with optimism and some days I collapse into the bed hysterically crying. In short, I am straight up schizo.
I also experience pretty steady fatigue which I was positive indicated an auto immune disease. NO ONE should feel this SHITTY. So I decided to go to a doctor and have thousands of dollars of blood work done. They found nothing. Zero. A big doughnut hole. I was officially diagnosed as "average middle age female in peri-menopause".
Well, fuck you and the horse you rode in on.
That is exactly how I felt when Aunt Flo came for her first visit. Although, I wasn't as filthy mouthed back then. I just remember being upset, terrified and wanted my mom to take my period back to wherever it came from. Menstruating represented messiness, boobs, and general yuck. I was very happy being a girl in a tomboy world, thank you. Plus, I had no female that could take me under her wing to guide me. My mother wasn't much help. The "All About Me" films cast onto cinder block walls during P.E. were definitely NOT suitable woman-in-training education.
I once read girl's self esteem and confidence begin to decline at the age of 8. Then it really takes a hit around age 12. Testify! Since experiencing the very normal and biological event called menstruation, I have experienced body dysmorphia and resulting low self esteem. Would this have changed if I had women in my life who embraced and modeled the wonderful variations on theme that we experience? I don't know. Somehow, I think it would have at least given me a fighting chance.
In a weird way, I feel like approaching menopause is giving me that second chance. Perimenopause feels a ton like puberty. Acne, bloat, pain, weight gain, weight re-distribution, moodiness, etc. I can say with full confidence I was anything but grace filled in puberty. Now I have executive function. I pray to baby Jesus I can move through menopause with transparency, grace, compassion and acceptance.
However, I have spent the last couple of months feeling sorry for myself because my body is DOING WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE DOING. It's like being mad at someone for having blue eyes when you want them to be brown. I know women who walk around in their skin bag feeling horrible about their bodies EVERY DAY.
THIS HAS TO CHANGE.
Call me selfish. I am over us telling everyone else to honor and accept their journey while we suffer inside. I am over hearing and seeing members of my female tribe feeling substandard because we don't have the "shape du jour" as determined by the latest IG fitness star. I am enraged at the exhaustion women experience seeking out anti-aging creams, procedures, supplements, and surgeries.
Ladies, survey the landscape of women and open your eyes. WE come in a beautiful assortment of shapes, sizes, and flavors. We really are a fucking delicious box of chocolates, that may have been dropped or left in a car too long. We are imperfectly perfectly beautiful.
WE can become the mentors WE needed when we were young girls. I propose it is possible to model embracing all the ways our body adapts to ALL life stages and events. Let's give our proteges and ourselves BACK the energy wasted on chasing social constructions so we can LIVE. How much gas in your tank would you have if it wasn't used on worrying about how you size up to your sister, friend, or co-workers?
The Real Body Project is a forum. It is a chance to say "Hey, I am experiencing ____". It is an opportunity to say "Bug off!" to smooth foreheads at the age of 90 or enhancing our breasts by inserting water filled whoopie cushions into our chests. It is a way to tell another woman she is gorgeous just the way it is. It is a way to connect to and uplift one another.
I invite you to share on each blog post in the form of words or pictures. You can rant, ask for pity, celebrate, share useful info, etc. What you cannot do is use filters, tear another person down OR become STUCK. The Real Body Project is meant to MOVE the needle toward healthy acceptance and celebration of women (and those who identify as women) as a whole.
You ready? I'm ready. Let's roll!