Someone dear to me called me on the fluff, and he was right. Ever since posting those photos I have been doing a slow burn about several things. The men in my past. Body image. Consideration. Control. Jealousy. Ego. Perfectionism. Frustration. Depression.
As so may of you have kindly commented, I was something of a hot tamale. All of the wedding photos and the modeling photos are from a period of about five years in my early twenties. I was modeling a lot because I could get the work, and it was easy money and something you have to do before you hit 25 and are over the hill in that business.
Having said that, I will also say that the men in my life during that stretch (maybe longer) still found something in my appearance to improve upon. My first husband used to call me Marcie, as in marsupial. Will someone plese identify my pouch? Because I don’t get it.
The man I nearly married before him used to ask me to lose a little weight before his father or his buddies came to town. Also? To wear a little more makeup. Granted, we’d all put on the Freshman Fifteen and I was given to sweats, but still.
He is a good man, if a bit jerky in his youth. I actually had lunch with him a couple of weeks ago, and we talked about the reasons for the broken engagement for the first time in sixteen years. As I told him about some of the things that made me feel less than treasured, and measured on the wrong markers, he was mortified and stunned and embarrassed. He kept asking, “Did I really say/do/mean those things? I am so sorry, and don’t blame you a bit. I always thought it was because you were mad about ______. You made the right choice and I am sorry for having caused you so much pain. And for your having to relive it right now, with all that is going on.” The best moment was him doing a double take when he saw me walking toward him and said, “Wow, you look exactly the same.” That shouldn’t have pleased me as much as it did, but hey. I’m still human.
I’m just sorry that conversation was so seriously delayed, because I didn’t need to think of myself in his light all that time. But then again, he probably needed those years and the experience of marriage, commitment, and fatherhood to gain the proper perspective.
My current husband (no, it’s not final, give me some time to break the habit) also had periodic concerns and comments that sent me reeling. You look at those photos of an emaciated bride. How could there have been anything critical to say about my ass in a bikini? On our honeymoon? (Sorry, babe, but I think the publishing restrictions are going to be hard to follow. It’s out of context, but if it still rankles thirteen years later, accept responsibility and suck it up.)
What makes me mad about this collective story is that I let any of it get to me. I freely admit being the beneficiary of excellent genes—my parents are good lookin’ folk—and so didn’t make any particular efforts, but come on, man. Why the need to exert power or influence or dominance or perverted pride or whatever was going on in their heads? I still think about it and resent it.
These days, I accept who and what I am. I look at my scarred and rounded tummy and think about my babies. I can see the distinctive marks of each Cesarean delivery, of the surgery to remove my own alien, and the squiggly lines I didn’t accumulate until the 41st week of my fourth pregnancy. Even they are kind of cute, and the story behind them always makes me smile.
So now, as with so much in my life, I have come to my own accomodations and remain the sole custodian of my own self esteem. No one else has the right to tamper with it, knowingly or not, and no one save me has responsibility for its health and luster.
*stepping off soap box*