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I’ve been a big girl all my life.
Or, as one doctor told me, I was “grossly obese.”
That was 40 years and 50 less pounds ago.
He should see me now! I have curves, rolls, wrinkles, bat wings, and my skin elasticity is pretty much nonexistent. My belly hangs from repeated weight gain and loss, and from carrying my babies. I’ve earned every overlapping inch of it.
My hands are now my mother’s, weathered from hard work and time. My hair has turned to being unruly and wild and mostly white.
I smoke too much, curse too often, say what I think, and do as I please every single day.
And one more thing: I am intelligent and have gained much wisdom in my 63 years on this planet.
I was once young, blonde, thinner, and, by society’s standards, much more desirable. I was also naive, self-conscious, and insecure, afraid to speak up for fear I would appear stupid. Basically, I had a real inferiority complex.
So what did I do?
I put on makeup and lots of it, dyed my hair, dressed up, and looked good to compensate for my insecurities. And I slept around, obviously hoping someone would love me for my looks because I sure wasn’t offering them much else. And what happened? I got used and abused because I was pretty, and pretty easy.
So what changed, and how did those things change me? Through life, hardship, loss, abuse, marriage, and raising my children, I began to grow. The older I got, the more life experience I had, and the further I grew.
It seemed that the more I lost in life, be it people or things, the more I gained in self-knowledge, strength, wisdom, faith, determination, and insight into life in general to name a few.
It’s my belief that this is what we’re here for—to evolve through challenges, experience, and wisdom gained, and eventually come home to our authentic selves. The gift is learning to like ourselves and become comfortable in our own skin.
The bonus is we find that other people like us, too. Not only like us, but love us! In fact, they are drawn to us because of our authenticity. When we stop trying to impress our outer beauty upon the world, people learn to see our inner beauty.
Now here’s the irony of it. At 63, with all my so-called flaws, I am finding that those of the opposite sex are finding me hard to resist.
How can that be?
Experience has shown me that real men love real women. Men, if being honest with themselves, admire strength and independence. Real men aren’t seeking childlike drama, but prefer experience and wisdom, trust and intellect. How refreshing!
And it’s funny, too (not ha-ha funny, but amazing funny), because it’s often younger men who find themselves attracted to me for these very reasons. They don’t mind that my hair is wild and white. In fact, they love it. They don’t mind that my body is far from “perfect.” In fact, they love its fullness and curves, its softness and comfort, and they find it beautiful, stretch marks and all. They see a woman in her glory, a goddess, a queen, a woman confident and comfortable with herself, and they find these characteristics alluring.
It’s a beautiful, intimate thing when a lover whispers to me how crazy I make him, how beautiful I am, or tells me quite frankly, I’m hot as f*ck, because you know what? I am.
My lover once told me I had a beautiful body as I lay naked before him. I asked how he could see it that way (considering my remaining self-consciousness at the time). He responded, “because you’re in it.”
Suffice it to say, I have learned a lot in life, not least of all what my late-in-life lovers have taught me. These men have let me glimpse myself through their eyes, and that has been a beautiful reveal. They have helped me dispel the remains of my self-consciousness over appearance, and they have raised the bar as to what treatment I should expect from any man—or any person, for that matter. They have encouraged me to express my needs and desires and to embrace my beauty and my sexuality. They have taught me to set boundaries as well.
All in all, they have helped me know myself, not just as a woman, but as a whole person. To those men, past and present, I am grateful.
At 63, I know I am not finished learning and growing. No one is, not until that last breath has been taken, and even after that, who really can say?
What I do know and can say is I’m a beautiful, radiant, mature woman, more fully realized than I ever knew I could be as a young woman.
So to all the young women, to all the self-critical women, to all those who beat themselves up every day for feeling they aren’t enough in some way, I say this: believe in yourself, challenge yourself, examine yourself, touch yourself, and be kind to yourself, not cruel. Respect yourself, listen to your instincts, learn to set boundaries, speak up for yourself, and try your damnedest to see the value in what life is teaching you so you can unearth the beautiful, authentic being you truly are.
It’s worth it. I promise.
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