Body Image & Embracing Our So-Called Flaws
I’ve had a visible scar on my forehead from chicken pox since second grade. In fact, I have several throughout my body.
I have a big scar of moon-like shapes on my left knee from falling on the ground at my grandparents’ house in the Ukraine. I remember it hurting — a lot.
I already have wrinkles on my forehead that I’m sure any cosmetic surgeon would recommend I Botox away.
I definitely have love handles, and my hips keep expanding. And when I’m bloated, I look like I’m with child.
I have a skin condition called keratosis pilaris, which means that I have little bumps on my skin, particularly my arms.
At 29, I still have acne. I have a weird indentation on my middle finger (probably from holding a pen and writing so much). My hair is thin.
I have stretch marks and cellulite and my boobs could use a boost.
Some might call these flaws or imperfections — if they’re trying to be subtle or sort of polite.
I call them my face, my features, my body. Mine.
I started thinking about flaws and imperfections after reading this post at Simple Mom. Blogger Emily Walker talks about covering up a messy, old table in order to conceal its scratches, indentations, pen marks and other signs of wear and tear.
Maybe that old table is your body. Maybe you feel the same way about how it looks. Maybe you can list your so-called flaws in mere seconds, because you know them by heart. Because you’re ashamed. Because you think that these flaws somehow make you less beautiful, maybe even less worthy. (Been there.)
Emily’s post is really about perfection and the magic that comes with embracing imperfection. (It’s where you find meaning and memories and stories.) She writes:
After all these years, the table is not as pretty as it used to be. There are specks of glitter crusted to it that will only come out the day we decide to sand it down and refinish it. There’s glue stuck to it. There’s stray paint from craft projects and home renovations.
These days, it’s usually covered with a tablecloth because I’m embarrassed for anyone to see the state of my table. But the other day, when I took off the tablecloth to put it in the wash, I sat at the table—bare, dinged, glittered, glued, messy—and remembered each of the stories behind the messes.
I saw the green paint that strayed from my son’s first painting project. I saw the glitter and sparkles from the first Christmas craft my daughter and I did a few years ago. I saw the lines in the wood where the pencil was pushed too hard during homework time.
How could I cover up these things, as though they’re things to be ashamed of?
My table is not perfect, but it has done the job it was meant to do very well. Life has been lived at it. Lessons have been learned at it. Memories have been made for decades, right there at that table.
It tells the story of lives being lived, not life missed out on in the name of perfection. The same way that marks on the walls, scuffs on the floor, toys on the table, and dishes in the sink prove that the places we live are for just that—living. Not perfection.
Similarly, our bodies tell many stories. Stories of having lived. Of fighting colds, chicken pox and other aliments, of running around and playing as little ones, of growing, of having babies, of feeding them, of laughing and enjoying amazing times, of not missing out. Of running marathons, of writing our hearts out, of traveling, of dancing.
There is beauty and truth in imperfection. Don’t get me wrong: I love dressing up and enjoy wearing makeup, and I happily apply concealer on my blemishes. This makes me feel good, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But I’m learning and trying my best to embrace the idiosyncrasies of my appearance. To take it easy. To be kind. To remember that this is me — one-of-a-kind, unique.
I’ll leave you with Sal’s wise words from this post on flaws at Already Pretty:
But your body is not wrong. Nothing about your body is a flaw. I don’t care how many scars or warts or zits it’s got. I don’t care how much or little you weigh, how tall or short you are, how much or little hair you’ve got or what color it is. I don’t care how you’re proportioned or where you stash your cellulite or how big your boobs are. And I sure as hell don’t care how old or young you are. Your body is NOT WRONG. Your body is NOT FLAWED. Your body is also not perfect, but guess what? Neither is anyone else’s, and that’s just biology. Anyone who wants to talk to you about how to hide or mask or eliminate your flaws wants to sell you some crap that they’ve invented. And whatever crap they’re selling may slowly, subtly strip away your humanity and uniqueness. Because the Beauty Machine believes that we all want to look like identical airbrushed photos of former humans, and it sells us that desire over and over again.
And my favorite line:
Your body is not wrong, and the less you tell it that it is wrong, the stronger it’ll become.
What’s helped you embrace your so-called imperfections? What stories do your imperfections tell?
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). Body Image & Embracing Our So-Called Flaws. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 30, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/12/body-image-embracing-our-so-called-flaws/