The other day, my daughter and I decided at the last minute to go the beach. My body is not naturally swimsuit ready. I have a "shapewear" bathing suit that takes exactly 32.4 minutes to put on. I imagine putting it on must be similar to trying to get a sausage back into its casing; when you push something in on one side, it comes out the other side. And there is the bikiniscaping. I am thinking that this area increases in size with age, similar to the nose and ears, but no one ever talks about that. So, as I was desperately trying to go to the beach "spontaneously", I realized why people, especially women, have such low self-esteem. When I'm at the beach, or walking down the street, I only see the finished product. I don't get to see them spray tanning, getting laser hair removal, at the salon getting their Brazilian keratin treatment, or any other beauty trickery processes. But I am intimately familiar with my toilette. Somehow I feel as if I'm the only one that has to go through it. And the media doesn't help at all. I remember reading a "Behind the Scenes" article about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and somewhere they mentionned how Paulina Porizkova did her own makeup in a van in the dark without a mirror. No wonder my head is messed up: Paulina just wakes up looking beach ready; I don't. Thus, there is something wrong with me.
Logically, I can see things from the other viewpoint: I am almost 44 years old, I have given birth and I had a stroke, and when I look at some of the young people today I feel like I'm holding it together pretty well. And we've all seen the before and after photoshopped images. Somehow this doesn't quite stick as well as the negativity, however, and the years of glossy, perfect models overwhelm any self-esteem boost I can muster, so it is not my go-to self perception. There are days that I feel pretty. Most days, I do not. Why does it matter what I look like anyhow? So many people are fighting for survival, it is a luxury to be able to obsess over my appearance.
I have crooked teeth from my parents and a wacky arm from a stroke. My daughter describes me as funny and smart, while she describes the other Linda from Mommy and Me as pretty and nice. So, I'm not pretty nor nice. I love the French people, French language (I'm fluent), French food, culture, architecture... In short, all of France! I'll read anything in front of me. I know more about middle school math than, well, anyone, INCLUDING my middle school math teacher husband (let's see if he reads this). I'm not happy if I'm not painting something.