Crooked Trees

I’ll never be able to wear that.

I ran my hands lovingly over the blouse. It was just the kind of style I knew would look great on me, the colors enhancing my summer tan and a deep, ruffled v-neck to highlight the recent emergence of my collar bone (something I haven’t seen since my early twenties.) Perfect, except for one thing: it was sleeveless. I stood for a moment, longingly taking in each detail.

I haven’t worn a sleeveless shirt in almost 20 years. I also haven’t worn shorts. Until recently, all my clothing consisted of long skirts and baggy shirts and although I wear more form-fitting clothing now, it’s almost always accompanied by some sort of torture device underneath to smooth the lumps and bumps and jiggly parts. Recently, a man called me sexy. Inside, I laughed. I look okay in clothes. What Romeo doesn’t know is that once removed, I’ll explode like biscuits in a Pillsbury Dough can. I didn’t buy the shirt. But as I walked away, a rebellious voice rose up and shouted “what the hell?!”

That voice is getting louder these days. Not long ago, it actually told me my body was amazing. Can you imagine? Here’s what it said (and this is word-for-word, because I was so astonished I actually wrote it down.)

Your body is the result of some incredible things. You have carried eight children in your womb. You have fed and nourished eight children from your breasts. You have overcome anorexia, gained weight because you refused to continue starving yourself, ran a half-marathon, and lost 100 pounds. 100 pounds! Your body is the result of all those things. Your body is fucking incredible.

(Forgive me, that voice curses every now and then.)

Yesterday, as I rode through the woods guiding a group on horseback, a customer exclaimed, “look at that tree! It’s beautiful!”
I turned to see. The tree didn’t tower over the others and its leaves weren’t full and lush, but its trunk curved in an incredible arc and its branches twined together in a spectacular canopy. It was beautiful.
This morning, I read the following statement, by Peter Wohlleben the man who wrote The Hidden Life of Trees:

“For a forester, a crooked tree is ugly, because you can’t get much money for the wood. So it really surprised me, walking through the forest, when people called a curved tree beautiful. They told me: ‘my life hasn’t always run in a straight line, either.’ And I began to see things with new eyes.”


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