I don’t know who she is but I’ve wanted to be her. I don’t know if her life is good. If she’s loved. If she’s funny. If she has a best friend who will rub her back when she cries. I don’t know if she has a gap in her front teeth or wirey hair. I don’t know if she looks up at the heavens and smiles knowingly. All I know is that she is bikini ready. That she can wear cute little outfits without exorbitant amounts of binding allegedly seamless undergarments. She can run and jump and swim and never will her thighs rub the material threadbare in her jeans.
I went to see the play The Bluest Eye today for a class. I watched as Pecola prayed to God, though she was very small, for the bluest blue eyes so she wouldn’t feel so invisible. Toni Morrison wrote of Pecola and her family, “You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.” Somewhere a long the way I’d accepted my own cloak.
I asked myself where it began. This obsession with looking a certain way. Why did it mean somuch? Flashes of my past…encounters with every man (without exception) and their harsh criticisms of my body. Something was always wrong. I do not blame them, or anyone. Those instances…for someone who sought approval and validation…it is worth noting that tonight I heard Rev. Rick Warren say, “If you live for the approval of others, you will die by their rejection.” That hit home. As I just wrote on permission. I thought about how many deaths there have been, waiting, praying, holding my breath and making deals with God that maybe if my hair was better, my waist was smaller and my thighs didn’t touch, then maybe I’d be worth loving. Worth sticking around for.
That’s fucked up.
And I hate that working through stuff makes me feel all…open and woe is me. I don’t want that. But sometimes you have to call a thing a thing, and outloud. Call attention to it before it can slink away into your unconscious and make itself at home.
So I figure, keeping in my theme of surrender I would also like to surrender the prayer. The prayer for the body which serves as the trophy for the perfect life. I have to give it up. I can’t chase it…