All women please read this.
Thank you Neta Kirby for sharing this with me - I absolutely love it.
(from The Feast of Flesh and Spirit, 2013)
WHEN THEY LOOK INTO A mirror they seek flaws. In their faces they see lines or open pores or dry skin or broken capillaries; they see a nose too big or too pointed; chins that sag or bags beneath tired eyes. In body they see thighs too fat, too droopy, too big; waists and bottoms that are never right; wobbly upper arms; love-handles (that they hide beneath long tee-shirts) – and always I hear women talk about what they ought to do about it, despairing and casually embarrassed.
Ask yourself, you who see these things and sense distress: Why do I see myself so?
Ask yourself whether the secret condemnation you feel about your physical form is of your own making?
Don’t you give of your strength and compassion to the world around you? Don’t you strive to meet the challenges and responsibilities of merely living from day to day? Don’t you understand that by simply being alive you make a difference to the way the world is?
Do you compare yourself to others? Do you compromise your choices out of fear? Do you yearn to be noticed? To be honoured for your worth? To feel good about being alive? To be loved or really liked? And do you feel that only someone else can make things better for you?
Oh, what lies we’ve let ourselves believe.
People can be merciless to themselves for not fitting someone else’s idea of what is acceptably beautiful.
And yet, ask yourself Who defines our concept of beauty?
I have listened to the blues being sung by thousands of women and girls over decades. They so often feel that they’re not good enough. They blame it on, first and foremost, themselves, then the media, or men, or
fashion, or modern western society. Or other women.
Someone ask me who defines the concept.
I do. It took me over forty years to be certain that I understood.
I learned about the truth of things when I decided to do exactly what I wanted with my life; when I decided that it’s me who should like the way I look; when I decided that I would never lie to myself about my motives in any matter, no matter what the repercussions; when I determined never to have to try to have someone else like who I am.
I look at the Earth with her ragged mountains and her deep gorges; her canyons, her caves, her forests, her seas and her rivers, her vast tracts of desert … and my body looks like that.
I know my moods of thunder and lightning, intolerable winds, hazy, smoky autumn evenings, days of grey stillness, hot and sweaty mid-summer afternoons, and the times when I’m ice on the water-tank.
I’ve got scars and stretch-marks and muscles on a tiny woman-body; I’ve got wrinkles from too much sun or too little back-up in times of trouble; a mane of hair that knows no comb—and attitude.
I contemplate the Earth; I feel her, and we’re the same. I’m her mirror. You’re her mirror.
Do you recognize you among all the people you try to be, for all the others you try to be someone for?
You see, I’ve worked it out. It’s not what you do in life that matters, or even who you are, but that you are – that’s the important thing. To understand that is to set yourself free to know that everything that you say and do is an expression of you that you share with life itself.
The strain, the pain, the challenge, the earthy sweaty grace …
What you are is beauty.” —from The Feast of Flesh and Spirit, 2013