Early this spring, local Vermont photographer, Liz Lavorgna of Core Photo, asked if I'd like to be a part of a photography and spoken word project she's working on called Perfect Imperfection. As she described the project, I knew immediately that this was something I needed to participate in. And I knew exactly what my Perfect Imperfection was going to be. 30 x 29 x 39
Those are my measurements.
My perfect IMPERFECTION.
In high school I was skinny. People would bump into me and say OUCH, I JUST GOT A PAPER CUT. My nickname was STICK. I was fit, strong and I ate a ton. I would drink high calorie weight gain drinks and pound the ice cream, but could never gain a pound. At almost 5'7'' I hovered around 100 pounds.
In my late teens, my hips, butt and thighs settled onto my body, and in my early 20's, I started to get CELLULITE. I had gained some weight (which was very good!), and was up to about 120 pounds, and I swear every pound I gained was fat. I was going to the gym 6 or 7 days a week, mixing my cardio with weight training, and still couldn't shake the dimples. My trainer's explanation was simple: It's in the genes. I stopped wearing bathing suits. I transitioned into board shorts. I was thin and strong everywhere else, so I could hide my imperfection.
My hips continued to grow throughout my 20's and early 30's, and the cellulite started migrating down my thighs. It was like I had two different bodies. From the waist up I was skinny (like, count my ribs skinny). From the waist down I had visible cellulite, even though my pant size was probably a size 4/6.
It was odd. I was Skinny-Fat. I was a PEAR.
And it was hard to be skinny-fat. When people looked at me, they would assume I was thin (and without fat). And the thing is, I was thin. But fatty.
Expectations and assumptions were always crushed. I could see it in people's faces when I went to the beach, or wore short shorts.
I just read a great article in the online magazine, Everyday Feminism, called "Let's Talk About Thin Privilege". The premise of the article is that YES, it can hurt your feelings to be picked on and made fun of because of your thin-ness. However, suffering from a grievance is far different than systematic oppression. Name calling sucks. But being at the sh*t-end of a societal shame-stick is way worse. Once the sting of name calling wears off, you're ok. But oppression follows you, wherever you go.
I've dealt with both. The skinny comments fall into the grievance category. No real stigma attached to that. Feelings get hurt, but I get over it. However, having cellulite certainly fits into the societal shame category. And being teased about it penetrates to the core.
HOW TO FIGHT CELLULITE headlines blast magazines. There are quick fixes, special creams and outrageous diets. There is name calling. Tabloids denigrate movie stars at the slightest hint of a pucker or dimple.
So yea, I'm talking about it. Being skinny-fat has been hard.
My PERFECT Imperfection.
Things started to change, slowly at first, with the birth of my first child. MY BODY GREW A HUMAN!! I knew bodies grew humans, but I didn't get how unbelievable it was until I did it myself. And then, MY BODY BIRTHED THIS HUMAN!! Naturally. And I thought it was AWESOME. I developed a special admiration for my body after that.
For years I held this quiet admiration, though I still struggled with body image and skinny-girl expectations. And for the life of me, I couldn't find jeans that fit both my butt and my waist, or shirts that didn't have baggy darts.
Then in 2013 my son was born. He weighed in at 10 pounds 11 ounces, and I birthed him naturally. [APPLAUSE] As it turns out, my hips - these hips I had cursed for many years - were just the right size for me to deliver my beautiful whopping son. Moments after the nurses weighed him I declared - I will NEVER EVER curse my hips again. They are mighty. They are powerful. They are PERFECT!!
They are my PERFECT IMPERFECTION.
Even on days when I'm feeling particularly sensitive about my body (always on beach days), I have the wonderful gift of motherhood to remind me of how incredible my body really is.
And over the years, I've learned how to dress my pear shape so I feel balanced, despite my measurements.
Plus, the last thing I want to do is shame my imperfect body in front of my kids. My daughter was born with a number of physical differences… so what the heck kind of role model/mother would I be if I condemned my imperfections in front of her???
Because I think SHE'S perfect. (Wouldn't you agree?)
How about you? If someone asked you to choose YOUR PERFECT IMPERFECTION, what would you say? And how long has it taken you to go from seeing it as a perfect IMPERFECTION to a PERFECT imperfection? It doesn't need to be about body image. The options, as we are human, are endless. I encourage you to think on this one if something doesn't pop right into your mind. Even write about it. In fact, I invite you to share your story in the comments below.
[pullquote width="300" float="left"]"The shortest distance between two people is a story." Patti Dighi [/pullquote]
To grace, power and beauty. xo Stasia