|What American Woman Are Encouraged To Look Like|
When I was a teenager, I was 130lbs with perky D cups and curves in all the right places! I was HOT! But even then I was a size 10 and thought I was fat! I remember a "friend" of mine laughing at my "back fat." Which I know now, was skin - not fat! But I was a size 10, so I must not have been thin enough! I remember skipping breakfast and lunch and then binging on dinner - only to throw it up 5 minutes later. I swam laps every day in school and walked up my huge mountain of a hill every afternoon. There were lots of diet pills and lots of drugs and quite a bit of alcohol! It was NOT a healthy way to live, but that number in the back of my jeans wasn't small enough - even though I looked like a Fredrick's Model!
After highschool, I went through a long period of depression, stopped swimming, stopped walking and started eating! And in about 6 months I doubled my weight! Since then, I have struggled with my weight. When I was 21, I got to the point where the drugs and alcohol just weren't "fun" any more and I put on more weight. At my heaviest I was pushing 300lbs.
Fast forward to 2007, I had just had my second son - my second baby in 14months mind you. And I was extremely unhappy with how I looked. As an American I'm told that I'm supposed to work out every day while I'm pregnant to prevent weight gain and sagging and stretching... Yadda Yadda... Didn't happen! I was so depressed through my pregnancies I was lucky to get out of bed! So I'm standing there, looking in the mirror, facing a woman who is NOT at all looking like the woman I picture in my head!
When I close my eyes and picture me, I see that 130lbs, busty and curvy girl I once was. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I'm - well - fat in the real world. But that's what happens when you live all these years with image issues and an unhealthy lifestyle! I can't stand looking in the mirror and don't allow pictures!
It was right around that time when I began to realize something though. I had focused on learning my craft and becoming the "expert witch." But I hadn't ever transformed my thinking! In many ways I was still thinking like an American, not a Pagan! I think this is the reason I was so unhappy with how my path had progressed as well as unhappy with my life. I had approached my path as if it was something I needed to learn - and in some ways it is - but I forgot that it was something I needed to become!
So I began to focus on my thinking and how I saw the world. Until this point, I had been content to live as the average American and only pull out my faith when it was time for ritual... I was, for all intensive purposes, a Sunday Pagan. Growing up Christian, that was kinda how I was taught to look at religion and faith. You live you life by the broadest view of your faiths rules and only focus on your religion itself when it's time for "church."
It was at this point when I began to change how I was living my life. I started living a more "green" life and started focusing on being healthy, naturally. I started to focus on the products we were buying, the stores I was shopping in and even the charities I was involved with. Still thought it was difficult for me to see my body any differently than I had before.
It wasn't until after my daughter was born (2011) that I really took a look at how I was seeing myself. I had been researching Goddess images throughout history, when a Photograph of the statuette of Venus of Willendorf, lit up my computer screen. I found her form to be both beautiful and feminine. As I looked at her curves, her large uneven breasts, her "fat" stomach and her wide ass, I considered why such an image would have been created. No doubt it was a Goddess or other Fertility symbol to the people's who made it - a thing of beauty.
Is this what prehistoric people's found to be beautiful? Is this the "natural" form of the female body? I honestly assumed that the "thin" idea of beauty we have today wasn't far off from how people all through history had felt as well. I knew that in recent years we had gotten a bit extreme, but thin was always in - right?
So I started to consider other images I had seen through my studies. As I see it, the further back in time you go, the "wider" women are portrayed. While it seems as if "thin" has always been in, it's clear, to me at least, that "thin" has changed in definition. While today we consider anything over a size 6 to be "Large," it seems as if 50 or 60 years ago a size 6 would have been seen as "sickly" or "too thin." If you go back 100 or more years it was simply unheard of for a woman to be that in American and European cultures. At those times, and most likely throughout all of history, it was health that was attractive - natural curves, "child bearing" hips and breasts, and even the post child birth "pooch."
As an American, I'm told that fat is ugly! That there is something wrong with a woman who allows herself to look like I do. This completely clashes with the Pagan side of me! The side of me where I am supposed to embrace myself fully and totally - love who I am, even my flaws. The Pagan side of me wants to live a joyful, peaceful and positive life. The American side of me wants to throw away all the mirrors in my house and lock away the monster that keeps looking back at me from them.
It was like a battle going on inside me, everyday, all the time! Early morning affirmations to stay positive and help me love who I am, and then strict diets and workouts all day long, just to end the day with more affirmations...
It was only once I chose a side that I reached a point where I could be happy with who I am. I considered who it was that I want to be. What is more important? Fitting some cultural ideal or fully embracing my spiritual self. The answer was clear. I have never really "fit in" to our culture. In Highschool I was a "freak" who did drugs and dressed "gothish" and spoke her very opinionated - and rather bitchy - mind. I was rough and tumble and didn't even want to be a part of the "popular" crowd. So why is it that now, after nearly 30 years of being an "outcast," am I working so hard to fit the norm? Well, that's a question I couldn't answer!
I sat for a few days and took some time to consider deeply what my path was about. Is it about fitting in? No, it's about embracing nature, loving life and living a healthy positive life. It took me a while to really get to the point where I understood that embracing that Pagan attitude and lifestyle would make me a much more beautiful person than a size 6 ever could! And it's something I continue to struggle with. More than likely, I will struggle with it for years! I don't deny that. It's especially hard when I have to buy more clothes! But it's something I'm learning to get past.
|What Healthy Women Look Like|
I'm not saying that I've given up on my physical appearance. Not at all. But rather than struggling to fit in to someone elses ideal depiction of what a woman should be, I've reached the realization that a positive attitude and a healthy body is what real beauty is. So I've ditched the diets in favor of learning how to eat well. And ditched the hard physical workouts in favor of daily physical activity.
Am I still overweight? Yes. Do I still want to loose some weight? Yes. But am I working to be thin? No. I'm working to become healthy - physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually. Healthy is way more beautiful than thin will ever be! Body image is something I think most women in the US struggle with. We all think we are supposed to look like a supermodel, and the vast majority don't. We see ourselves through the warmed goggles of American Idealism. A Pagan path encourages us to embrace our natural selves, and to become positive and healthy. Personally, I think if more women would view their bodies through Pagan eyes, rather than the eyes of the American Media, we would have a healthier country over all. For myself, I know how I am striving to see myself, and how I encourage you all to see yourselves as well!