Every six weeks after I have my hair colored, my grey starts to reappear again, reminding me of my age and mortality. Upon closer inspection I see the crinkly lines around my eyes. They tend to deepen more times than not, depending on how much sleep I’ve had the previous night or how many tears I’ve shed.
Of course I don’t stop at the grey or the eye crinkle lines. I observe the beginnings of a sag in my neck, the dimpled cellulite on my thighs, a belly button that looks more like a winking eye and a bikini line that remains obscured beneath my muffin top.
I wish I was in better shape. I wish I didn’t crave sweets. I wish I wasn’t premenopausal. I wish I could bounce a quarter off my ass. I wish my skin was flawless.
Yet each “flaw” represents a milestone, memories that are both good and bad.
For instance, the permanent bunion on my foot serves as a reminder that I completed a full marathon.
The scars on my left hand reveal the months of care when my kids and I fostered abandoned kittens.
The spider veins on the backs of my knees came from nine months of intense physical training for motherhood.
The silvery stripes on my stomach are ones I earned while I was pregnant with my son.
All my freckles arrived during my second pregnancy.
My doughy stomach lets me know I birthed two babies.
The burn scar on my arm reminds me of the moment I collided with a hot baking pan in culinary school.
The tattoo I have of a cupcake arrived during a time of extreme hardship, reminding me to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
My scarred knee remains a painful reminder of the time I bullied a boy in grade school. Let’s just say he won that battle, rightly so.
Sometimes I get embarrassed about my imperfections. I want to cover them up. Often, I wish I had the appearance of the beautiful women you see in films. I remind myself I am putting unrealistic expectations on myself, thanks to the false advertising driven by Photoshop and surgical interventions.
Nevertheless, if left alone in my thoughts too long, my negativity can get the best of me, and the only thing that can bring me out of my funk is napping to the soothing voice of Bob Ross painting on PBS.
On the other hand, this is a body that has been through a lot. I call all my imperfections battle scars. I don’t want to consider them defects or flaws, even though it would be easy to. Now that I’m a bit older my body is no longer what it once was. Years have passed, and each scar and imperfection tells a story and possesses a history, all its own.
I could take a different approach, if I dare. How about acceptance and gratitude? Wouldn’t that be something? To actually embrace who I am in this present moment and feel thankful for the past experiences that have led me to where I am today.
I want to work on embracing myself for a change, to live intentionally. It’s going to be difficult. Getting lost in the negative self talk is my default mode, especially during moments of silence. Mindfulness of this self destructive behavior, however, is a step in the right direction. For every negative thought or comment I make about myself, I’m determined to change it into a positive, because I have a lot of positives. As women we tend to be our own worst critics, but let’s remember who we are: a force to be reckoned with. It’s time to be proud of our achievements, battle scars and all. We have earned our scars and stripes. Let’s embrace them.