The third epiphany from my trip to Daytona has to do with body image. Shannon had tried to get me to buy a new swimsuit before we left home and I’d given her a maybe at best. I like swimsuits, just not so crazy about me in swimsuits. Even when I was a size 5, 100 pounds, and 18 years old.

It doesn’t  help,  really,  that  I can trace my discomfort  back to the  horrible shame of a Southern Baptist upbringing  where  there’s  an  image  of  the  “Modern Mother” engraved in my mind…a woman in a bikini and high-heels with a baby in one arm, a six-pack of beer under the other, and a cigarette  dangling  from her scarlet lips…yep, a whore going straight to hell. The funny thing I remember now is that she was in really great shape, but she was pointed out as the epitome of everything not to be, and since she was proud of her body and her choices, well, all the more reason for hell to await.

This week, I got a whole lot more comfortable with myself. But it took a lot of different reasons all stitched together.

I saw women on the beach in bikinis…all week long. Women 50 pounds heavier than I am now but in clothing I wouldn’t have been caught dead in even at 50 pounds lighter than I am now. I saw belly dancers in veils and an extreme amount of boobage bursting forth from corsets, and I kept thinking how amazing it is in today’s  society that so many of these women were completely  comfort- able with  their bodies and with displaying their bodies. And I admired  that.  I  never  even  put on the corset I brought with me for one of the evening parties, and after attending the party, I regretted that I hadn’t.

I also saw women who’d had a tremendous amount of cosmetic surgery, and I heard that old “Six Million Dollar Man” prologue playing in  the back of my head…. “We can rebuild her….” According to societal standards, these women  were  beautiful,  perfect  creatures.  Yet  none  of them thought of themselves as such and none were con- tent with all the nipping and tucking that had been done. Contrary  to  the  overweight   women  in  bikinis,  these women weren’t satisfied and admitted to me  that they’ll never be satisfied.

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.

One woman pointed out the tiniest flaw to me—a tiny spot on her  waist where she could pinch a quarter-inch.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

It drove her insane. Enough so that she’s planning an- other surgery to  take care of it. I would never have noticed. I doubt any lover would ever have noticed. But she knew it was there and she, like so many women, is  her own worst critic.

I talked to many women over the week, and I did find it fascinating that women  with less than perfect  bodies but who were  content with their physicality  seemed  to have much  more joyous  sex  lives and more passionate lives in general whereas the women so focused on an impossible model of perfection, no matter how near-perfect they already were, were constantly beating themselves up.

Though my background contradicts it and most of the people in my hometown and work environment contradict it, I left  feeling a lot better about myself physically and thinking when I looked in the mirror, hey, that’s not as bad as I’ve been led to believe. In fact, it can be pretty good.


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