I am a 5’8″ 155 lb 38-year-old woman. I’ve had three children. I have scars, both from the C-Sections that brought my children into the world and from numerous surgeries from my car accident. I have stretch marks. I have lived. My body has enjoyed carrying three children. I proudly wear the stretch marks that they gave me. My body has been cut open to bring them into the world. I celebrate the scar.
A car accident has resulted in several repairs to my leg and scars on my thigh, knee and ankle. A leg that carries me through life. A leg that helped me to carry my three children while they were growing inside me. And a leg that supports me when I lift them for hugs.
I have been on this planet for almost forty years. My body has aged and shows signs of wear. I have grey hairs amongst the red now, and more every day. Wrinkles are starting to show around my eyes and mouth.But they’re made even more beautiful by my smile. My body is not imperfect – it’s unique.
Like the Japanese art Kintsukuroi (repairing broken pottery using resin mixed with precious metals), the gold gift of life is interwoven and shows on my body, my head, my face. My body, my mind, my spirit, continue to evolve day after day. I know I am beautiful. It is confirmed by my wonderful husband, my three beautiful children, the many wonderful men and women I count as my friends. They believe it in part because it is a truth, and in part, I think, because I believe it.
I have a bikini body. Do you know how I know? I can put a bikini on my body.
Last week, I saw several articles of interest on the internet. This one, about a high school in Utah that forced “modesty” on several of it’s female students by covering parts of their bodies.
I could show you example after example of women being shamed, criticized and even mocked for being too fat, too thin, too muscular, not muscular enough, too tall, too short, for having too much hair – or too little.
In today’s society, it has somehow become common place, accepted practice to shame women for the sin of living.
Yes. All women.
It’s got to stop.
I’m doing my part. I appreciate my body—and I refuse to let anyone shame me for worshipping it. And I’m teaching my daughter that she is beautiful, and should be proud of herself. More importantly, for my sons, I am teaching them that all women are beautiful and should be celebrated. I am trying to teach them not to judge. Fat, thin, tall, short, hairy, hairless, strong, weak. We are all a rainbow.
And sadly, all too many times, we are also victims. We are victims when you choose to make a careless judgment. About our state of dress, our choice of friends, the activities we choose to or choose not to participate in. How much we like to drink. How much we like to eat. How we dress. Whether you make a comment, or you just look and shake your head. When you make a judgment about us, we are your victim. And we also judge ourselves harshly and unworthy because society has taught us to, we are victims of society.
We are all women. We are your mothers, your sisters, your aunts, your wives, your friends, your lovers. #YesAllWomen. And we are deserving of your respect.
Man or woman—take a look at yourself. Ask yourself how you feel about your body. Have you shamed yourself? You need to make the conscious effort buck societal trends—change self-judgment into positive affirmation and acceptance.
Look at your actions and your thoughts. Have you ever shamed someone else? Even with something as simple as a look and a shake of your head? Have you ever made a judgment based on someone else’s appearance? Have you ever suggested to your wife or girlfriend that you don’t approve of her dress? That it was too short? Pointed out a muffin top? A grey hair? Have you ever made a woman feel undesired or unwanted or unacceptable based on your judgment of her appearance or her actions? Have you ever looked at someone in a store or a restaurant or a bar and judged them because they were wearing something too tight? Too short? Too loose? Too low cut? Have you declared them undesirable? Have you even “just” made the judgment in your own head without sharing it?
Did you answer yes to any of my questions? Because it’s you I’m talking to. It’s you who can take steps to start the movement. Only you can change your attitude. Just you. And spread the word. To your spouse. To your children. To your friends. You are all beautiful. Every one of you. Man or woman. Stop the judgment. Stop the shame. Stop the victimization.
There are those out there who believe you can’t do it. But I’m with Dr. Seuss on this issue.
“‘They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!’
But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.”
That’s right. We’re not Sneetches, but we’re all humans. Regardless of whether we have a penis or a vagina, or something else under our clothes. Whatever we choose to cover ourselves in. Or not cover our selves in. None of us is any better than anyone else. We are all unique. We are not cut from the same cloth. We were never intended to all be the “same”, or we wouldn’t have different colors of hair, skin, different heights and weights. We are all “snowflakes”. None of us is quite like any other.
Celebrate uniqueness. Forget about scars and marks. Forget about weight. Forget clothing. Forget height, money, fancy cars, grey hair, no hair, big house. It doesn’t make you any better or any worse than anyone else.
Be part of the movement.
#YesAllHumans. We are all more beautiful for having lived our lives. We all deserve to live free of judgment and criticism for things we cannot control.
We all deserve to live. Period.
This post originally appeared on Live by Surprise in May 2014. I’m sad that it’s still relevant.