(I had forgotten I had started this piece after the Super Bowl. Fortuitous in way, given some recent personal developments.)
A friend posted on the Book of Faces that the internet trolls had been body shaming Lady Gaga after her Super Bowl performance!!?? And of course, several of us expressed our outrage and dismay, but then of course, we moved on to decry whatever nonsense #45 chose to tweet about instead of running the country.
Not that anyone needs to read another women's empowerment puff piece or see an airbrushed advertisement campaign encouraging us to love ourselves and our bodies in all of our wonderful shapes, sizes, colors, etc. Especially when we know that those messages are fleeting and conflict with the real life social pressure to lose weight, get cosmetic surgery, or invest heavily in Spanx in pursuit of physical perfection. What does a "real" woman look like anyway?
Let me admit that I noticed Gaga's tummy. Then I happened to look down at my own tummy pouch. And I recalled that at one time my stomach was flatter before I had the Babe; however, I also had some days when I had a visible food baby, fluid retention, monthly bloating, beer belly, or winter weight. In other words, nobody is perfect.
So I decided to take this pic of my 40+ year old pouch:
I was unsure if I was going to post this because it might be considered obscene, especially with the Babe posing just outside of the frame (but we're joined at the hip you know). And I wanted to emphasize the point of this piece: no tummy, just like no body is perfect.
I read that Gaga had suffered with an eating disorder in the past. And as I look down at my own changing body and consider the many reasons why I can't blame it all on the Babe, I want to send the message that body shaming, even in jest, is just bullying with a more politically correct name. I have been guilty of saying unflattering things about other women, and I am ashamed that it took years for me to realize how cruel I sounded. I never anticipated that the day would come when I would stand in front of a three-way mirror, totally mortified by my own imperfect reflection.
My shame is not about not being what I once was...well, yes it is because I once was a skinny asshole. I have been blessed to live long enough to know that beauty is much deeper than appearance, a perfectly sculpted physique, or any of the other superficial measures our society promotes. If you have been blessed to weather life's twists and turns, and have more than a few battle scars to prove it, then you are perfectly beautiful.