But it will always be mine.
She was a gymnast. You can tell. She’s compact with muscles built over years of training as an athlete. Her physique is amazing. Every time I see her training someone at the gym I always wonder why I can’t just look like that.
The answer’s pretty obvious. It’s because I’m not her. I will never look like her. I’m me. Simple.
I’m not built like a gymnast. I remember when I was a kid taking classes with my sister. I also remember someone saying I was too tall to be a gymnast. I, however, was not too tall to be a swimmer. Long and lanky works to your advantage in that arena.
While she looks like a gymnast, I look like a swimmer. My muscles are stretched tight. I have zero flexibility. Me doing yoga looks like an injured flamingo has recently ingested crack cocaine in one way or another. I have the wingspan of a condor. But, my arms and back show the strength of my years.
There is no way I am ever going to have that super athletic build about me. I have become the middle aged version of willowy.
I workout with a group of women, all of us in our 40s. We’re at an age where our level of body acceptance should off the charts. We should understand that we’re not perfect and love our bodies anyway.
But, we don’t.
Instead, we look at each other and envy what we see in someone else without understanding the fact that someone else is looking at us the same way.
We joke around that if you took us and sliced us up and put us together, we would make one hell of a fine-looking woman. Like that Fashion Plates thing we had as girls where you had a bunch of models and you could fit them together however you please.
My arms, Shila’s legs, Cherokee’s abs, Theresa’s butt… One fine looking woman.
It’s actually ridiculous. In a way, it’s us honoring each other. None of us would stand up and declare a part of our body the best of the group but we certainly like to do it for someone else.
I have been shocked at the amount of body positivity that comes out of a group of women pushing themselves as hard as they can until they just can’t anymore. It’s glorious.
You strip down the judgment of your own body to celebrate that of another. It’s a rare form of community. We snap pictures of each other when the subject is not looking and then show them, with pride, that they’re doing an amazing job.
In all of us, there is something that someone else wishes they had.
I struggle to find that part of myself and celebrate it without someone having to point it out. It turns from a physical growth into a mental one.
We can’t compare ourselves to others. Ever. In any way. It serves us no good. My body will never look like that young woman’s. It’s been a long time since I was under the age of thirty. Working out isn’t my job. I like wine far too much and my Italian ancestors would rise out of their graves and haunt me until my death if I stopped eating pasta.
But, my body is mine. If I don’t love it as it is, I can’t ask anyone else to. It’s the only one I have and the only one I’m going to get. I might as well be as kind to it as I can.