Beautiful and desirable: not the first two words that come to mind when I think about myself. If you were to ask, I might say I’m intelligent – sometimes quick and witty – often bratty. I am generally strong, independent, forthright (most of the time) and achievement oriented. I am happy, content and self-sufficient. But beautiful and desirable?
This morning I put on just the slightest (tiny tiny) hint of makeup. Hmmm – I like it. I haven’t worn makeup, except for once or twice in the evening, in about three or four years. Why not? Well, I’m at an age where I think, “why bother?” After all, I’m not about to have a primary relationship again. I don’t want one or need one and I don’t see any men banging down my doors. It’s all good.
But wait: I got a booty call from an ex a few months ago. And then when I went dancing, a stranger asked me to dance and whispered in my ear that he liked the way I move. And then B called to say he still loves me. And then the waiter in Switzerland flirted with me and asked when I’m coming back.
I am taking a second look. And it’s a bit of an internal battle. The message from the media used to be that we women had to do everything in our power to look good and attract men. The pendulum has swung around. Now we are supposed to be strong and independent – we are supposed to toss all that aside and stride down the street, head held high as we open our own doors and report cat-calls as harassment.
And so I feel just a touch guilty when I think of myself as beautiful and desirable.
What on earth is politically correct these days? Should I even care? What is my truth?
Well, the truth is that it’s not all that simple.
I look back at photos of myself in my twenties and I realize that I was really quite attractive. I was pretty – really! I didn’t know it – I really did not. I was focussed on my nose being too large and my legs not being straight enough or long enough and my boobs not large enough. That’s what I saw in the mirror.
Now when I look in the mirror, I see a woman getting older. And that’s okay. I truly love my body and who I am. I am healthy, fit and strong and I can do everything with my body I have always done – even more than 30 years ago.
But I am also a woman. Ten or twenty years from now I will look at a photo of myself and think, “Oh my gosh, I was beautiful!”
And I may just have enough proof that I am beautiful and desirable. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s time to do some late blooming and embrace more than just my health and fitness. Maybe it’s also time to celebrate the beauty I have right now. I am still a woman and a sexual creature. Perhaps it’s okay to embrace that. I know that in the past few years, I have tossed all that aside and squashed it. Maybe I was wrong to do that.
It’s that side of me that makes me soft and vulnerable and I remember once writing down the following words: “My vulnerability is the most beautiful thing about me.”
Can I combine strength and independence with vulnerability? Can I be strong and soft at the same time? Can I be a woman and yet not be less than equal?
At the moment I have no answer to these questions, but I believe I am willing to keep asking them and struggling to find the answers.
Just when you think life is so simple and you’re over the hill and taking the nice long slide down, it gets all messy again and you find there is yet another peak to climb. Oh well, climbing is my thing, right?