I was walking down the street today and saw a young woman - maybe 25 years old - walking hand in hand with her boyfriend. She was pretty, blonde, but large - quite large. I have always thought (because I hate my own body) of girls like this as being so close to pretty. "If only she'd lose weight - she would be stunning." I've heard those words a million times in my own life. If only... if only... if only...
But I looked at this girl differently today. I intentionally stopped the reel-to-reel auto-play in my mind, and instead really took a long look at her. Her hair was cut to her shoulders and simply glistened in the sun. Her full face glowed - she had the beauty of a movie star like Cherize Theron - and she simply radiated light through her broad, unwavering smile. She was joyous. I walk through life as draped and hidden as I can be - pants, shirts with sleeves - no matter the heat or weather. But she - she wore a sundress - no sleeves, just thin spaghetti straps spooling down to a low-cut bodice and free flowing skirt that moved gently around her as she walked. Her soft, round arms were like alabaster, staring proudly at all who would look. Her thick legs bowed widely at the calf, yet stepped gracefully under the billow of soft material that stopped at her knee. And her full, wide feet padded against the pavement practically bare, coddled only by the tiny straps and thin soles of a pair of flip-flops.
She was so happy. So completely at home with who she was. I felt like I was watching a movie unfold in this little scene before me. And with movie timing, a strong gust of wind suddenly enfolded her, sending her dress flying all the way up around her waist. I saw her large slightly dimpled thighs pressed tightly together as she walked, the outline of a paunch stomach that hung down a bit appeared through her white cotton underwear. And I saw her reaction - laughter. A whole sidewalk of people had seen her body and she and her boyfriend were delighted. They thought it was hilarious and continued happily with their stroll.
That girl taught me so much today. So much about accepting and loving oneself. I know there are those who think that fat is grotesque. But I honestly believe that it would have confounded anyone to find ugliness in what I saw. She was joy, and she was total, absolute, uncompromised radiance. It came not from a svelte figure or heavy makeup or clothes to camouflage what lay underneath. It came from inside her. That sense of belonging in her own body. That sense of loving herself. And that sense of knowing she was entitled to live happily and freely just as she was.
I envy that. I live my life constantly worried about the judgments others make about this generous earthly form I inhabit. But maybe what I saw today can change me. I want that joy. I want that power. I want to walk peacefully on this earth within my own flesh. Because no diet, no number on a scale, could have made that amazing young woman even the slightest bit more beautiful.