Perfectly Beautiful, Stretch Marks and All

19 Jan

Standing in front of the mirror, I’m staring at my imperfections.  Despite countless hours of working on my physique, there are certain aspects of my body I can’t change.  The marks that grace my stomach are a reminder of my pregnancies; the days I watched my figure transform and my belly swell.  Other people may not notice them, but I always do.  I close my eyes and remember that feeling, the one of wanting to lose the baby weight and thinking then I’d be happy.  I stared at a picture, the person I wanted to look like, and thought if I worked hard enough I would get there.  Little did I know at the time, that I would lose the weight, that I would change what I could to feel beautiful, but that some things don’t change.  The weight came off over time, only leaving more marks.  The stretch marks never did disappear, a reminder of my journey to finding me.

Examining my untouched photographs I can see the marks. I know they can be photo shopped, and likely will, but they will always be there in person.  Thinking back on my college days, my experiences with fitness and wellness, my involvement in women’s empowerment groups, I’m struck now by the conversations with which I was a part.  I can remember many times that we sat discussing the unrealistic expectations of women.  How the images we see often encourage us to think of beauty in a very limited respect.  To think of beauty and perfection as flawless.  This perspective is so dangerous for society.  At the time, a small part of me, although I didn’t speak up, disagreed with my colleagues and fellow students.

Why not look to these women who rarely admit their flaws?  Who don’t appear real, on the outside or the inside.  Maybe that’s what we ought to strive to be, I thought. 

I questioned whether those around me advocated this type of thinking simply to justify their lack of trying to be beautiful.  I think now, I was sorely mistaken.  Beauty, to me, has come to be defined as something much more than physical.  It’s a carefully put together equation.  It’s one part charm, and one part depth.  It’s partially made up of compassion.  It includes realness.  It’s learning to value and care for ourselves.  It’s about the ability to look outside of ourselves and understand that the world is greater than us.

Over the years, I’ve realized that for many of us the imperfections we see when we stare in the mirror will never disappear.  We live in a society that’s image driven, where people are expected to be perfect.  The reality is, we should strive for perfection with the very clear realization that we will never get there.  I will always stand in front of the mirror and be tempted to see flaws, to see where I can make improvements.  I’ll be hard on myself at times that I am not as perfect as I’d like to be. I’ll work diligently to get where I want to be, but always fall a bit short.  I don’t want to be perfect with no soul though.  I don’t want to spend my time with people who are perfect because the reality is that I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I want real women.  I’d like to see people on the cover of a magazine that represent what they believe.  That are beautiful not only because of what they are but also because of who they are.  If you can inspire, if you can make someone smile, or make them laugh, if you can find that very special something about you that makes you unique, then you are perfectly beautiful to me.

  

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One Response to “Perfectly Beautiful, Stretch Marks and All”

  1. Sonal January 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Hi Kim, You made my day! This one was so close to my heart. Very inspiring.

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