Friday, February 7, 2014


We have a disease in this country, in this world - the disease of perfection. I suffer from it myself. I've spent the majority of my female life, since I was 9 years old and went on my first diet, believing there is something wrong with my body, with my size, with my shape. Women in particular, we spend so much energy and time and money battling against the feeling of being less than. We tell ourselves we are not good enough, that we are never good enough. We feel as if we don't deserve love, especially romantic love, because we don't have supermodel bodies. We stare in the mirror and curse our cellulite, our thick thighs, our round bellies, our fleshy asses. We compete with each other for the attention of men and other women. We are crushed with advertising and media messages thousands of times daily that say we need weight loss, makeup, fitness, health products, clothes and food that will make us closer to the ideal. We binge. We purge. We starve. We exercise our time away to feel one step closer to perfect. We live outside ourselves, never happy in the moment, always reaching for an unattainable future where we will, finally, be small and therefore, happy.

We yearn for an ideal that was made in a shiny office, on a computer, out of pixels on a screen. Our perfection ideal is a fallacy created by Photoshop.

I didn't necessarily start working out in pursuit of perfection, but it was certainly a factor. When I was finally able to get into a regular fitness regime, it was because I stopped worrying about my weight for a hot second and just decided to focus on my health and feeling better. It worked, and now, fitness is just a part of my life. January and February at the gym are an exercise in patience, perseverance and sheer force of will. It's so crowded with new year's resolutioners, it's almost impossible to even get in the door. It's so disruptive to my routine, and I basically hate it. This is my fourth year at the same gym, and for some reason this year, it's worse than ever. I've been at least three times and not gotten into classes that I go to all the time. It's making me slightly crazy. I need that physical release to feel normal now. When I don't get it, I'm never quite myself.

It's hard to hate on people who are really trying to make good changes in their lives through fitness. I remember in my early days of working out, I saw a woman in class one day who was a bit bigger than I am now, and I was like, "That. Her. I want to look like her." She was fit, shapely, beautiful. I have that now. I am that woman, and have been for a while now. And it's STILL NOT ENOUGH. I still feel like I'm not small enough. I've lost 60 pounds, and I still think I need to lose 20 more. Why is it never good enough? Why can't I see how far I've come?

There's this young woman at my gym - this beautiful, fit, strong woman. I've seen her in my weights classes, lifting heroic amounts of weight, with perfect form and well-defined, lean muscles. She's stunningly beautiful. Her body is amazing. AMAZING. She's nice, and cute and funny. And earlier this week in spinning class, I overheard her talking about how she is desperate to lose 10 pounds for her wedding. I was stunned that a woman who looks to me to have a perfect body thinks there is something wrong with her. I'm not surprised in the least. I know exactly what that feels like. And if I were her size, I would still feel the same way. It's a societal sickness.

Why? Why do we do this to ourselves?

Last night, I finally got around to watching some of the videos from Beyonce's new self-titled album, and saw 'Pretty Hurts.'

Beyonce is a fucking goddess. I've had a photo of her up in my kitchen for two years, just so I can look at her and feel like it's ok to be fit and strong and not super skinny. When I hear Beyonce talking about feeling inadequate, about how hard it is for her, I kind of don't know how to feel. If BEYONCE feels shitty about herself, what are the rest of us mere mortals supposed to feel like? Her new album is about as perfect as pop can get, but more importantly, it's about finding the beauty of our own imperfection. It's about letting go of the lie of perfection and living in the moments of our lives. It's about being happy just as you are, about growth and strength and connecting with other human beings with love.

I'm tired of feeling bad about myself because of the way I look. It's exhausting and I'm just not going to do it anymore. Life is too short to expend energy on this bullshit for another minute. I have worked so hard on myself in every possible arena. I've come so far and changed so much for the better. My body has transformed, along with my mind. Isn't it ok to just stop, take a look at how far I've come, and just enjoy it?  I want to celebrate my beauty and health and the human body and our capacity to change ourselves. I want to be naked and not be ashamed of my round belly and my massive, strong girlie thighs. I reject perfection. Perfection is boring. The good parts, the jazz, the skronky bits. That's where the magic is.

At the beginning of the year, I decided I was going to stop obsessing over my food intake and fitness regime and just listen to my body. I pledged to be mindful of what I put into my body, and I promised to take myself to yoga and meditation and try to get in touch with my natural rhythms. I decided to focus on eating real, wholesome foods in satisfying proportions. I pay attention to how things make me feel when I eat and drink them. I want to honor my body for everything it has given me. It's the only one I have, and I refuse to spend another moment of my life hating it. And it's working. I look in the mirror and I feel really, really good about what I see. I love getting dressed every day. I'm not self-conscious or wishing I were someone else who is smaller and prettier and more perfect. And I feel, really for the first time in my life, that I am beautiful. And I'm also going to eat that corner brownie. Thanks.

Go look in the mirror today and love yourself. You are a hot, foxy mama, and don't you let anyone, particularly yourself, tell you otherwise.  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. I know, because Beyonce said so. And Beyonce is never wrong.



thatsagirlscar said...

Love, love, love this. I'm going to have to bookmark this one for inspiration when I'm feeling down.

Marielle Altenor said...

I love this song, that is my favorite from her new album!

Egypt said...

thank you