Do women still lie about their age? When I was small I was taught to never, EVER ask a woman’s age. “That is rude and inconsiderate,’ my mother used to say. A woman telling you her true age was about as likely as a woman telling you that she was wearing her natural hair color. It just wasn’t done. Some things fortunately do change though, and from my experience women are more comfortable sharing their age these days and don’t bat an eyelash about going from blonde to brunette.
Some things though haven’t changed. Every so often I receive an email from someone asking about how I deal with loose skin from losing over 100 pounds. Recently one woman wrote saying that she was embarrassed about her body after losing weight and that she felt unattractive and unworthy of love. How I wish that women would embrace their bodies regardless of what age they are or what battles they’ve gone through. In such a ‘beautiful’ society it’s not acceptable to talk about the real world that we live in. Why? I believe its because the truth is sometimes scary and people don’t want to be burdened with it so they continue to strive for the unattainable: photoshopped models and the leggy, gorgeous exercise instructor at the gym. But the truth is, our bodies are not designed to look voluptuous and taut throughout eternity. That is simply not its job. The body is designed as a vessel to serve us as we pass through this life; its bound to get a bit worn, a bit bruised and beaten.
One of the best photos ever taken of me (in my opinion) happened to be at the art show I participated in earlier this month. From this photo you would never know that underneath I have excess skin from my weight loss or that I carry a pretty prominent scar on my belly from my hysterectomy. Nor do you see the scar on my breast from a lumpectomy or the multitude of scars on my shoulders and back that removed cancerous cells which saved my life. Yet my smile, my look of contentment – my happiness is genuine. I am, for the most part, comfortable with my body.
I recently came across an article from The Huffington Post about a woman who has launched a project called Under The Red Dress. Beth Whaanga is a cancer survivor that bravely and gracefully speaks out about the physical toll that cancer takes on a human being. The link above will take you to her story. The following link will take you 7 images of Beth. The first one shows her in a beautiful dress, hair done and wearing makeup, however as you scroll through the photos you see another side of Beth – a woman whose body has been through cancers, surgeries, rapid weight loss, reconstruction. The images are not meant to shock but to educate. You can see these images here.
While the Under The Red Dress project is to bring awareness to cancer survivors I felt compelled to share Beth’s story here on my blog for anyone who believes that she is is somehow ‘less than’, whether it be loose skin from weight loss or heavy scarring from major surgeries. No body is perfect. We all have flaws.
I hope the above photos, though they may look extreme, shed some light on what’s hidden beneath and that we continue to break the stereotypes that manipulate women into believing that we have to be perfect in order to be an accepted part of society. I commend Beth Whaanga and fully support her project.