When pop star, Christina Aguilera, sang "I am beautiful no matter what they say" she really should have said "I am beautiful no matter what I say". I've come to realise that I am my harshest critic. Like most women, I have a love-hate relationship with my body. As I got older, my metabolism changed and my body shape morphed into something that was far from what it was in my younger years. It became harder and harder to like my body, let alone love it. I cursed the fact that I wasn't one of those genetically blessed people who have a metabolism that rivals the speed of light. My butt and thighs, my perennial problem children, have inherited their stubbornness from me. No matter what I do, they are steadfastly determined to do what they like, which unfortunately is the complete opposite of what I want them to do.
Now I realise that I am not grossly overweight. I honestly do not aspire to have the proportions of a supermodel. I just want to fit into my clothes. Not just the 'fat clothes' (those reserved for the not-so-good times), but also the 'skinny clothes' (those normally worn at the best of times). Buying new clothes is not an option for me as I am quite attached to what I have now. Besides, MOH (My Other Half) would keel over (at best) or possibly have a heart attack (at worst).
All this talk of clothes brings me to my jeans.
I have had this pair of blue jeans for over 10 years. They were my absolute favourite. They're a nice cut and colour, but there is nothing remarkable about these jeans except for the fact that they represent a time that I consider to be my body's 'golden years' (not just in looks but in my fitness level). I have kept these jeans, not out of sentimentality, but because I've had this secret hope that one day they will magically fit again without me having to stop breathing in case the button pops when I exhale.
This kind of thinking, which some might call 'hopeful' (the optimists) and others 'misguided' (the pessimists or perhaps the realists), is partly the reason why I have too many shoes. I say 'partly' because I would still adore shoes even if I was a size zero.
I have a lot of shoes. A LOT. Ballet flats, sneakers, sandals, wedges, heels and boots - I have them all and then some. Name any colour and I'm sure I have a shoe to match. I hate to say it, but Imelda Marcos was simply living every woman's dream with her 1,000 pairs of shoes. Pity she did it by robbing her country blind. But that's another story.
Suffice to say I love my shoes - every single last one of them. I love them because they are pretty and feminine. I love them because they make me tall (I'm one of the vertically challenged). I love them because they complete an outfit and so, they complete me. But one of the main reasons I love them is because no matter what happens with my body, my feet have always stayed the same size and shape. Hence, I can decorate them at will i.e. buy lots of new shoes with no repercussions (well except on the wallet and on MOH's ever shrinking closet space).
So where does this all leave me? Rest assured I am well aware of how ludicrous it is to expect my body to be the same as it was all those years ago, to keep a pair of 10 year old jeans and to continue to buy shoes to soothe my wounded pride. The tipping point was when MOH and I decided to start trying for a baby. Suddenly I became conscious of taking care of my body, not just for how it looks, but to ensure it was as healthy as it could be so I had the very best chance of conceiving and having a good pregnancy.
Now I'm not saying that I have reached complete acceptance. However, let's just say that my body and I have reached an understanding. I am learning to let go, giving away clothes that no longer fit me (both the 'fat' and 'skinny' clothes), stopped buying countless pairs of shoes (well maybe one or two still sneak in from time to time) and have bought several new pairs of jeans. I am learning to form new conventions, exercising and eating for health and fitness not just because I want to look good. I am learning to be kinder to myself, praising my body for what it is capable of and accentuating it's good points. And all this is simply liberating.
But most importantly, I know that I am no longer the same woman that I was all those years ago not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, and I am glad. One must grow and change (hopefully for the better). That is how it is meant to be.
As for those old jeans, I have to admit that they're still tucked away in the back corner of my closet. Give me more time and I will be able to let them go. In the meantime, what's wrong with having good memories? :) Oh and I still love my shoes - all of them. That's one thing that will never change.