I had a beach day yesterday.
I love the beach, but my joy of the beach has always been mingled with overwhelming worry. Worry about my body.
I’ve written many times about my self-consciousness on the beach.
When I was a teenager, I worried about how skinny I was. I cannot think now of anything more moronic. But such is adolescence. Girls with breasts and hips hate them. Girls without desire them.
And my adult years – I’ll admit to more than forty of them – have been filled with every other kind of worry. On top of worrying that my breasts were too small, now my stomach was too big, my thighs were too dimpled, my hair too flat, my shoulders too sloped, my ankles too thick.
And I can go on and on. I felt every one of my flaws was on display in the bright sunshine. And I had thousands of flaws – in my mind.
What did I like about myself? My brain. But it was in a very imperfect casing – in my mind.
Over the last two years, my husband and I have put in a lot of effort into getting healthy.
And looking better has helped me like my body a little. For the first time in years, I didn’t feel horrible in my bathing suit.
But something else extraordinary happened at the beach yesterday.
Way more extraordinary than liking my body.
I liked everyone’s body!
Not being obsessed with my own flaws caused me to notice how great all our bodies all. ALL OF THEM.
The big ones, the little ones, the dark ones, the pale ones, the hairy ones, the bald ones, the skinny ones, the fat ones, the tall ones, the short ones, the young ones, the old ones.
All those bodies were amazing, doing amazing things.
Our remote ancestors probably crawled along that same beach eons ago, but evolution did a fantastic job. The human body is perfect.
Those bodies could swim, and splash, and run through the sand, and stroll along the water’s edge, and eat sandwiches, and throw frisbees, and build sandcastles, and read books, and holler at their kids, and kiss, and collect seashells, and carry huge coolers, and feed seagulls, and sleep.
I even saw one old lady having a happy squirt-gun fight with a kid probably seventy years younger. And they both could pull the trigger, and they both could duck, and they both could laugh.
How much does shape matter, when you can do all that?