I don’t much like looking at myself in the mirror these days.
There’s a lot of life on my face and body.
Look, I feel great about myself: my clothes, my hair, my toilette, my style, my spirit, my accomplishments, my feelings, my goals, my family, my animals, my Yoga practice, my blog, my feminist activism and on and on.
And then I go and look at myself in the mirror. Oh my.
These days, I am all ears to what young people are saying, thinking and doing. After all, it is their world I’m living in. Currently, I am hosting a young writer in residence in my home, who told me about poet Sonya Renee. Sonya started a movement called The Body is Not an Apology.
My body and soul sat up at these words. Sonya Renee created this movement when she acknowledged her own body shame. This movement has spread and encompasses all body issues — the disabled the maimed and injured bodies, illness, birth defects, hair shame, weight shame, body part shame, for the seemingly unperfect (what’s perfect? nothing!) we all find in ourselves.
The Body is Not an Apology advises that if our precious soul chose our body to occupy whilst on this earth, who are we to complain.
I am adding myself to Renee’s posse, as an older woman who refuses to feel shame for my years, my creakiness, my splendid silver hair, my jowls, my wrinkles, my sun surgery scars.
My body is not an apology. It is a diary of a life well lived. And okay, not so well lived sometimes. My body trekked up Mt. Snowden, canoed in Panama, flew through Devil’s Falls in a prop jet, rode in a pickup through the banana plantations of Ivory Coast, galloped on horseback in Montana, played more tennis than I ever thought possible. My body has navigated trams in Zurich, the metro in Paris, the subway in New York, the el in Chicago. My body has sailed on Lake Michigan and sat in a bullfight in Bogota. It has been ill. It has been loved. It has loved. It conceived and gave birth to my children. It is mine, my precious body.
Look in the mirror and see the little girl in you. She is still there. You wouldn’t tell her she is terrible, ugly, awful, useless, sad looking. You would take her in your arms and cherish her.
I remember when my Mother stopped wanting to have her photograph taken. She would groan or roll her eyes when it was time to pose. She would do a quick mental checklist of what she was wearing, pat her hair to see if it was done, figure out who to hide behind. If you notice, most selfies are snapped by young people. When you don’t look at yourself in a mirror or a photograph, you are eternally young.
Photographs are about the soul shining through those eyes. The rest of you is luck, chance, fate. The body is merely the vehicle or the house. Love the space your soul lives in. It’s home.