Over the past several months, I have spent a lot of time thinking about aging and beauty and sexuality. We live in a society that values youth, that hypersexualizes the young and strips women of their sexuality as they age. We live with a constant stream of images about how we should look and we are assigned value accordingly. Almost every woman I know has struggled with body image issues and many of us still do.
I spend too much time thinking about my body, about how it is changing over time, about how the world sees me. This morning, I took a picture of myself and I really looked at it. I was ready to pick it apart as I always do but the only thought that popped into my head was, "I like this picture." Liking a picture of yourself shouldn't be revolutionary yet, sometimes, it feels like it is. That picture and moment of self-acceptance inspired these words.
But, really, this is for all of us.
A declaration of independence. A manifesto. A mantra. A reminder.
I don't know what it is, except truth.
Let me tell you who I am. Make no assumptions.
I am a feminist and I want you to love me for my mind but I also want you to notice when my ass looks good in a pair of jeans. I want you to notice and honor all of me, emphasis on the honor.
I am a mother. My soft stomach, the bags under my eyes, the wrinkles at the corners of my eyes are all marks of the life I'm living. Though I may choose to cover my body or use make-up to hide the lines, I will not feel ashamed. Covered or exposed - I am real.
My hair is not too short (or long), too natural (or unnatural), too grey or too young for my age. I like it this way and I have the courage to define beauty for myself.
I am a sexual being. I was at 19. I am at 45. I will be as long as I live. Do not strip me of that because I am not attractive by your standards, because I'm aging, because I am queer and it's safer to think of me as asexual. I want to be dangerously seductive, like a sunset on the ocean that draws you right to the edge of the cliff.
Let's tell each other we're beautiful - even hot. Let's all practice accepting the compliment. Let's sit with the discomfort of those positive words and say nothing more than, "Thank you."
And yes, it's possible I'm flirting with you. Because I'm feeling good about myself. Because I want you to know that I see you. Because I'm feeling beautiful and want you to feel beautiful too.