A few days ago, an author I've had the pleasure to meet wrote a post about a dress that she found. It was a sleeveless dress, and she wasn't sure if she should buy it because, to paraphrase her own words, she has chubby arms. Chubby arms be damned, she thankfully decides to buy the dress. I can imagine her saying Take that! in the direction of all the people who think arms should be skinny every time she wears the dress. And when I see her, should she be wearing that dress, I think I'll give her a round of applause and a giant hug. We should all have the courage to wear what we want, especially the items of clothing that make us feel empowered.
But her post also brought me back home. (Sorry, mom, but here comes some revelation. Stop reading now.) Because my mother has never liked her arms. I can't tell you how many times over the 18 years I lived at home, and then again if we'd go shopping when I no longer lived there, that I heard the sentence: I can't wear that--it shows my arms. I'd roll my eyes and tell her she looked fine, good even, in the sleeveless shift she had tried on. I attempted to compliment her by saying that the dress lent color to her cheeks or that the cut of the bodice worked with her curves. And while I was making much of it up, because I know nothing about fashion and the jargon that goes with it, I wasn't making up the fact that really, Mom did look nice in the article of clothing. If only she had the confidence and peace to realize that those arms, no matter what she thought, were fine. Good even. A part of her.
They were the arms that held three babies. The ones that loved to garden, help turn pages of a book, and move furniture. They were the same arms that stirred the polenta for hours or rolled out dough for cookies. They shoveled snow, scrubbed toilets, made sure that algebra homework was done, and rolled curlers into Grandma's hair. They are strong, even now as my mom gets older, and really, something for which she should be grateful.
It's very difficult to come to terms with who we are and what we look like. Pages of society tell us one thing, an ideal to which we try to hold ourselves. But that ideal is completely unrealistic and unattainable. Happiness within ourselves is not, especially if we listen and learn from the strong women in our midst.
Take charge! Love your arms, your legs, your nose, your bum, whichever part tends to give you the most grief. Bathe it in love, find an accessory you can't live without, and march on. I, myself, am going shopping today. And I just might find a new shirt that shows my arms.