L.M. Dalton says that no matter what a woman’s body-type a man loves her unconditionally.
“A moment at the lips, forever on the hips,” my dad would say when I was a kid, as I plunged my hand into a bag of potato chips or asked for a second scoop of ice cream. Even the people he loved weren’t immune to his perfectionism. My hips widened, of course, just as he predicted. The weight of his judgment becoming mine to carry.
Dad is gone now and I’d like to think that with him went my self-consciousness over my weight. My man accepts me in a way I have never felt before. My wide hips are held with lust in his large, firm hands; his hard body nestled up against my soft one is a natural fit.
Would he love to see a toned counterpart to his beautiful physique when he looks at his lover? Of course he would. This has been revealed in frank conversations, prompted by me, in which I coaxed out of him the truth of how he feels about the 20 pounds I have slowly added, since my 50th birthday, to my already curvy body. Yet it was offered with a boatload of acceptance, free of pressure or judgment.
“Be healthy, baby. Move around more. Menopause sucks, but you’re hot . . . and not just from those power surges,” he says with a wink, not even commenting on what I eat or how much, which he knows isn’t excessive or out of the ordinary, by any means. We love to cook and eat beautiful food.
Yet, I still feel thick in my skin, and sometimes discontented with the body I have. Why? Because of my own self-judgment over the spare tire that seems to inflate a little more each year, and the way my thighs spill over the sides of a narrow chair. And maybe I still carry the echo of Daddy’s voice in my head, the one that says I’m fat.
As women, we are bombarded daily with images of sleek, emaciated girls as the model of feminine beauty. Even with campaigns like Dove sharing what Real Women look like, we still feel pressured to be thin if we want to be beautiful. We buy into this, then eat a cheeseburger and feel like shit. We complain to each other over glasses of wine and cheese on baguettes. Devil Bread, I call it. Because bread has become a forbidden temptation. Because bread will make you fat, they say. And the last thing we want to be is fat, right?
Right. Except that fat is in the eye of the beholder.
In all my years as a curvy girl I have never had a man kick me out of bed for being fat. If we got that far, he tended to be pretty happy once we were under the covers. Because men are less aware of our flaws than we are. They embrace us with much more tolerance than we do ourselves. It seems that, to a man, having a soft, round woman in his arms is just fine with him. Most of the men I know love their women for a multitude of reasons and not because they are a perfect size 2. It’s not men who judge us, we are our own worst critics.
What matters to men, I think, is that we take care of ourselves. That doesn’t mean spending hours in front of a mirror shellacking our faces with makeup, it means taking care of our skin and our hair, finding a look or style that expresses who we are. It is having confidence, that intoxicating trait that men find so appealing, and we find attractive about them, too. It means speaking our minds and continuing to learn and grow. It means showing up as a woman who knows who she is, and accepts herself, so he can rejoice in her, too. It means being a woman who loves the woman he loves.
Just writing this takes my own misgivings about my ample ass down a notch. A reminder that we have the power to change our feelings about ourselves quite easily when we face them and see our own flawed perspective. Looking in my own inner mirror, I can see what Mark sees in me and I can appreciate her. Yeah, I’m all about that bass, but that’s not all I’m about.
Many years ago I was at a pool party at a friend’s house. I was smaller than I am now, but still bigger than several of the skinny women there, including my friend who was obsessive about her weight. After many margaritas her husband came up to me and slurred, “You are so beautiful, Lis, and smart and funny, I’m surprised you’re single. But I think if you just lost about 20 pounds you could get any man you wanted.”
I wanted to punch him in the face. This bald, paunchy, drunken jerk had the nerve to call me fat. It was disgusting and I understood now why his wife was so worried about gaining an ounce.
“You know what, Bob?” I said, struggling not to tell him to go to hell, “The right guy for me will fall in love with the size of my heart, not the size of my thighs.” That shut him down pretty quick. Driving home that night I couldn’t get his words out of my head. I desperately wanted to believe my response was true, and that good man was out there waiting for me.
And of course, he was. The man who loves me is crazy in love with my heart, and it has grown bigger and wider with time. As have my thighs, and I’m working on coaxing them into being stronger and maybe a bit leaner. So, when Mark wants to head for the gym early on a Sunday morning, I join him, and every time I feel great when we leave. His suggestion to move around more offers us opportunities for hikes and walks on the beach together. Not so I get thin, so we stay healthy.
There are plenty of guys like Bob out there, but we have to give credit to the ones who see us from the inside out, and love us for who we are, not just how we look. We need to let go of our own self-judgment and just take good care of ourselves. My goal is to be comfortable in my own skin. The skin my man says feels like velvet, and covers a body we have both grown to love.
Photo Credit: Gabby Orcutt/Unsplash