Project Runway Season 10 airs a little behind the US here in Canada. Canada is airing Episode 4 while Episode 10 airs in the US this week. There is an episode airing in Canada soon where the term “real woman” gets used during judging. Heidi Klum responds, “What is a real woman?”
I have used the expression “real women”. Usually in regard to a store that makes clothes in my size that fit me well. Example, DKNY. The Soho jeans are wonderful for women with a thick waist and a curvy backside. They also come in tall which adds length not only to the legs but also to the rise so your waist band sits a little higher. For tall people, where your waist likely is. I have said that DKNY has clothes for “real women”.
I don’t use that expression any more. I’m one shape of woman but my friends with flatter backsides, short legs and thin hips are real women too. As are women with full breasts, small breasts and those who have had a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Who am I to say that one shape of woman is “real”?
I was an underweight kid and teenager and gained my weight post-marriage. I hated my body. I felt like a failure despite anything else that I accomplished. It was like my weight invalidated anything positive about myself. I was a good friend, wife,employee, daughter and sister. But it was as if none of that counted because I was fat. A couple of years ago I realized that my mother was still unhappy about her body. She was overweight and hated it. She has since lost weight and looks and feels great but I remember my mom dieting, and complaining about her body, my entire life. She came by it the same way as her mother was unhappy with her weight also. I thought, “Am I still going to hate myself in 30 years?! What if I never lose the weight? Will I never love myself again? Do I have to continue to punish myself into my 40’s, 50’s, 60’s?”
Because I was punishing myself. I didn’t deserve certain things or to go to certain places. I could dress myself up but I couldn’t call myself pretty because I was overweight. I waited for my husband to pack up and leave. Why would he stay? He had put on at least as much weight as I did but it was different, for some reason. I love him for himself but he deserves a thin (or at least thinner) wife, I thought. My husband has never expressed anything but pure love for me. I was projecting my words onto him.
I started reading Already Pretty and started talking to myself as I would to a good friend. You’d tell your friend that it’s a good for her to exercise, but you wouldn’t berate her and call her fat and lazy because she stayed in and sewed instead. You would tell your friend that she looked better in a boot cut jean than she did in a skinny jean, but you wouldn’t tell her she didn’t deserve to go out to an event because she wore a size 14. But we are more than willing to talk to ourselves this way. It is not about pretending that we are thrilled with the shape or weight we are but it is about loving ourselves anyway. It is about loving the way our bodies get us around, some of them having carried little humans inside them, loving our shapely legs or our nice shoulders or our freckles. It is about loving ourselves as we love our spouses and children and mothers and friends. We don’t stop loving because they aren’t a perfect size or shape, or because they don’t have a certain skill or talent. We are proud of them if they accomplish a goal or learn a skill, like losing weight or learning to play guitar. But we don’t love them more. We love them because they exist. And we are all real women because we exist and we are deserving of love. Especially from ourselves.
What I’m listening to: At My Most Beautiful by R.E.M.