That’s me, highlighted in the center of the photo.
My high school volleyball coach told me my thighs looked like “cottage cheese”. That was her way of encouraging me to go on a diet. It was’t about my playing ability or my health, she only addressed my looks. The fact that I ran around the court in shorts diving after balls and learning to serve turned me more than a little self conscious about playing in front of people. The fact that I had started dieting at 13 wasn’t enough.
That wasn’t the sole comment that played in my mind over the years. There is a whole concert but with sour notes amidst the beautiful symphonic words that have said “You’re value is not contingent on your shape. No dear one, your value is rested firmly in your Creator, the God of the Universe who said you are wonderfully made”.
I’m thankful for the push in recent years for women to stop shaming themselves through idealizing the perfect body. I just feel we need to take it a bit further.
If you haven’t read “Put on the Swimsuit“, you should. The author revisits an old post and it’s worth reading. I just feel the need to take it further.
Every article I’ve read about “real women” and embracing their bodies has one common denominator, motherhood.
They describe squishy tummies that have brought life and stretch marks that have announced making room for a child. It’s beautiful and true and right. It really is.
But don’t forget the young woman with cottage cheese thighs, a droopy belly and a beautiful heart. Her stretch marks might be from the freshman forty or rapid growth during puberty. Yo yo dieting and surgery have added perceived flaws to her figure.
She too should feel comfortable in shorts or swimwear and bright colors. We all deserve to wear a swimsuit, cute shorts or a skirt that shows our wrinkly knees.
It doesn’t take fertility or the ability to procreate for a woman to earn her worth. Our value is not tied to familial status and working body parts and certainly shouldn’t be held as a standard of worth either.
We need to celebrate every stage of being a woman. Every wonderfully made human has scars. Some of us have as many on the inside as we do outside.
From the lines around our eyes that tell the story of seeing things more clearly to the freckled nose that reflects days in the sun. In the tiny frame or the sturdy legs we are more than the bodies we wear.
We are more than our gender or education, marital status or parental abilities. Just don’t ever forget, our beauty is wrapped up inside our stories. We are creations of the Creator of the Universe. We all have something to bring to table and no one should be turned away.
No one should ever feel less than or inferior to or not good enough ever.
Yes, this is the one body we were given. We should treat it gently. The intricate parts that move, breathe, smile, laugh and weep are yours.
For us who remember the “cottage cheese” comments? I want to remember the time I was seen as kind or strong or brave or gentle. When I fell down and got back up. When I walked out on an abusive relationship and allowed myself to love again just a few years later.
Every woman from birth to death should feel beautiful. Not because of something they did but because of who they are. Not the flawless complexions, flowing hair or tightened bodies because those won’t last.
It’s your words and deeds that will stick around. Let’s make them lovely because you my friend are lovely.
My high school drill team instructor ordered competition outfits for us that had fringe around the waist (even though fringe will not move there because you shake your hips and shimmy your shoulders…not your waist…but yeah). Only she didn’t have it made with elastic banded fringe so there was no give. It was fitted to our waists. That meant anyone with any kind of chest had a hell of a time getting the top on. Then she made us feel like crap about our size. Because obviously if you have to wear anything but an A cup, you need to lose weight. (um…no.)
Thank you for including those of us who have stretch marks and battle scars from not from birthing a new life but just from living our own. This is beautiful!
Erin, Thank you for sharing your story. I knew I couldn’t be alone but when no one wants to talk about it the feeling creeps in and we can’t help but wonder.
I’m glad you found encouragement. Thank you for encouraging me as well.