I am flipping through a People magazine, Brain Cheetohs, and I am crying in public. A woman in pink with goop in her hair turns her head over her shoulder and gives me a wide eyed pathetic look. I sniff the snot and tears up my nose with a big, “SNNNNNNNNah.” I flip the page. Images of big boobs, big hair, big lips, and little dresses stare back at me in gloss. The message is always the same song of puffy chests and puffy lips set to the opera of, “I love my curves.” Yeah, did you love them before the breast augmentation and lip injections? Rarely does anyone in the spot light confess, “I look at myself with supremely harsh judgement and every bump and curve gives me distress. That’s why I blew up my boobs and put these cheek bones in. Maybe if I am pretty enough and perfect enough, YOU- random person who I don’t care about- will LOVE ME.”
I grew up in a household of please love me behavior. When I was ten, I sat in my driveway smashing my face with my tennis racket. My intention was to give myself a black eye. Perhaps if someone could see the physical bruise, the emotional ones would get attention. I got an egg sized lump on my face with no discoloration. ”I’m surprised you didn’t get a bruise,” the school nurse exclaimed, “How did this happen again?” I told a fairy tale of falling off a rope swing.
To celebrate my daughter’s fifth birthday, Blah Blah Blah Blah. The image does not undo the actions. The obsession is a mirror and I find myself glancing in it.
Why do the women of our culture pick ourselves apart to the point of surgical augmentation? To find happiness? To earn respect? To impress? My distaste for it lingers in my mouth like gun metal. Why? Because I am guilty of the mentality that leads to it. I want to be pretty. I want to be perfect. I want to be happy. Ah-ha.
I am happy. ”SNNNNNNNNah.” I flip the page and find a story of Mrs. Kennedy who hung herself in her barn leaving behind four children age 10-17. My eyes soak up printed text welding the pages together. ”She was so beautiful,” the pages tell of her stunning good looks before they teeter around her depression. I flip the page again to find a picture of Betty White staring at me holding a martini over a big cheese burger and shoestring french fries. Betty, who recently turned 90, states that co-stars constantly encourage her to eat salad to which she replies, “How many people at this table are 90?” I chuckle. ”SNNNNNNNah.” The lady in pink shifts her stare.
I have run for all the right reasons- I love it. I feel strong and free. However, I have also run for all the wrong reasons and running soothes like a drug of choice. I am very good at putting more than a workout in the workout. Pink shoes? Check. Tight pants? Check. Demons? Check. I can truthfully say that I have not done that once this entire year minus Houston, but that was war. Saturday, I arrived to practice and patiently went through my workout. When it came time for downhill 800 meter repeats, Rusty said, “Now is the time to go all out.” I heard, “Now is the time to unload.” Thank you. After holding back on my first 800 (2:20), I pushed hard into my second (yes, this was downhill). It hurt. A lot. I pushed myself over the line in 2:10. Instantly my face exploded in a smile. Pleasure. One little demon just got the shit kicked out of her.
I flip the page, Best Beach Bodies.
A text flashes across my phone. My best friend’s mother has just passed. Cancer doesn’t care blah blah blah blah. Cancer cares as much as her daughter does. Cancer just wants what is inside.
I drop the magazine and pick up another. Jillian Michaels has adopted children with her partner. I did not know she was a lesbian. I don’t know why, but I like that about Jillian.
Being a role model is a privilege and an honor. It means enough people think you are good enough that they perhaps want to do as you do, be as you are, look as you look. It is also pressure. However, I put pressure on no one the way I put it on myself. I am not perfect. Nobody thinks I am perfect. Not even me. So when LuLuLemon unveils my new wall poster and I stare at a not-perfect-me, it is a cruel rub of my past that I feel a dip in my self confidence. It is an image. Am I an image? No, I am a person. I want to be a better one.
I want her to see love and joy. I want her cheeks to hurt with smiles. I want her next 80 years to be as magical as her first 5 and I selfishly want to be apart of as much of it as possible.
Yes, I want her to see her mother as strong and beautiful- but Real. I hope she will accept my flaws easier than I do. I make a lot of mistakes, but not in her. She is truly the one perfect thing I have done.
It was a butterfly birthday.
“SNNNNNah.” I glance at the lady in pink, blow my nose in my sleeve, and put the magazine down. Everything worth working for takes work- be it running, family, life or love……especially love. Love is worth working for and there are no finish lines.