Id, Ego, and the Superhero

“Beauty! Wasn't that what mattered? Beauty was hardly a popular ideal at that jumpy moment in history. The masses had been desensitized to it, the intelligentsia regarded it with suspicion. To most of her peers, 'beauty' smacked of the rarefied, the indulgent, the superfluous, the effete. How could persons of good conscience pursue the beautiful when there was so much suffering and injustice in the world? Ellen Cherry's answer was that if one didn't cultivate beauty, soon he or she wouldn't be able to recognize ugliness. The prevalence of social ugliness made commitment to physical beauty all the more essential. And the very presence in life of double-wide mobile homes, Magic Marker graffiti, and orange shag carpeting had the effect of making ills such as poverty, crime, repression, pollution, and child abuse seem tolerable. In a sense, beauty was the ultimate protest, and, in that it generally lasted longer than an orgasm, the ultimate refuge. The Venus de Milo screamed 'No!' at evil, whereas the Spandex stretch pant, the macrame plant holder were compliant with it. Ugly bedrooms bred ugly habits. Of course, it wasn't required of beauty that it perform a social function. That was what was valuable about it.”  Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All
The monkeys checking themselves out in Lila's brand new dime store mirror ~ 9/22

A couple of weeks ago I went to the dermatologist. My first time ever. Aside from my skin cancer fears (primary reason for the visit), I had configured in my mind that the rest of the appointment would  involve pore seismology and the aesthetics of facial follicles and cool ways to get prescriptions for anti-wrinkle cream. Maybe even a free trial for Botox. No... nope. It was pretty much more all about a short bespectacled woman poring over my entire naked body for lesions and scary moles and then tossing me the business card for an aesthetician for all of that other stuff.

I thankfully ascertained that this somewhat pale body that's withstood six years of searing Florida sun has fared quite nicely (so far), resulting in an audible sigh of relief that lasted for days. While I was in the office, I asked if she (said curious tiny woman with glasses) could remove a red mark from under my eye. It had bothered me for all of my 42 years on this earth. Well, I'm sure it didn't bother me at all when I was three. In fact, I doubt I thought twice about this 'cherry mark' when I was six, other than most likely thinking it was cool. But soon after that, I became consumed with this thing resting beneath my left eye. This damn red dot consumed me for years and years. And I got rid of it with 15 minutes of my time and a ten dollar bill. 

I asked a bunch of people afterwards if they noticed the difference in my face and they didn't... I wanted desperately for someone to whisper to me, "Great job, kid. I was waiting for you to unload that horrific thing a long time ago." Nah nobody noticed. But I did. (Funny how such a huge freaking spot went unnoticed by everyone by me for my whole life. Well, aside from a rather mean spirited chick at a softball game years ago who stared at me and said, "Wow. If I had that, I would have removed it years ago. Doesn't it bother you?" Bite me, Tricia. Wish I had said that then, instead of "Errr...") My confidence level raised to a near perfect 10 the day it was removed, and for quite a few days following. Until the scale registered a few (ok, nine) extra pounds some weeks later. Now a new endeavor - to remove those nine pounds that had happily joined the already extra six...

Who gives me/us this will to change our appearance? Where does it come from? I have the urge to change my countenance coursing throughout my body at any given time, but I'm not sure from where it stems. Fashion magazines? Friends? Family? Me? The other night (during the Emmys), my inner dialogue went something along the lines of: "Shit. They're all so thin and here I am resting a huge bag of Pirate Booty on my gut. Ew. I need to diet and work out. I should just toss this half-eaten bag of booty. Ugh, dieting... It'll suck to give up good tasting stuff. Like ice cream. Oh wow, I forgot we have raspberry chocolate ice cream in the freezer." Two minutes later, I had successfully downed a half of a pint of ice cream. I need to work on my self control, perhaps. Score a point for my id on that one.

I want to look good for Ang. I want to look good to the random passers by on the street. I want my family to think I look good, and therefore healthy. I want to be more confident. My kids are already cool with my appearance, hence their 'Mommy, you are beautiful' 's every time I walk by them. *swoon* I want to freaking fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans that I've saved for futile reasons, it appears. But, (and that's a big butt ~ ba-dump-dump), I'm getting that it all has to start from within. And for me to get there, I need to believe in me................... It takes a little bit of time, I think. And I don't think that's such a bad thing. 

There's an internal dialogue (lots of talking going on in here) regarding appearance that pokes its frizzy blonde head into my consciousness more and more these days: "Why do people place so much importance on looks? Does it make the good looking ones more confident? Of course it does. But does it make the ones looking at them any happier? Perhaps. Hell, I like looking at attractive people. Does that make me shallow? Why is it so much more difficult to lose weight these days? Where is that button from my chinos? I should be focusing on my children's education and volunteering my time at a homeless shelter instead of checking out who's wearing what at the Emmys. I wish I could lose 15 pounds. I'm hungry." (Enter: ice cream.)

I'm trying to de-program this silly waste of time on outward appearances. Though I do want to lose some weight and I do get excited on good hair days and removal-of-unwanted-red-mark-from-face days (which I think is fine), I still desperately want to channel the cool way kids think, or rather don't think, about their looks. I dig how Lila can slap some sparkle lipstick onto her pretty little lips, throw a princess crown on top of her bedhead, look in the mirror and proclaim, "Ready to go!" with a grin from ear to ear. Ready in 37 seconds and confident as all hell. I love how AJ will forego looking in the mirror and instead imbibe confidence from simply having a happy morning. Give the kid a bowl of dinosaur oatmeal and a 'super duper group hug' and he's happy for the rest of the day, looks be damned. Ohhh, I have so much to learn from these two...
Silly AJ

Serene Lila
Awesome Ang
...aaaand Crazy Me
[See now? And I wonder why I'm so damn self-conscious half the time. Here's the same ol' random shot of me I get every single time someone decides to take my picture... I never get the sweet, serene shots of me looking out over the ocean or smiling at my kids or contemplating world peace (which could happen, I swear, if someone just caught me in my everyday life), but instead the goofiest ones. Taken at about 11pm at parties. *sigh*]

Anyway, my deal here is this: I want to celebrate the silly. The differences. The imperfect. What makes us feel good. You. The dancing. The confidence that comes along with individual accomplishments and not just a new sweater or losing a few pounds (again, which are fine, too). Smiling. Goofiness. The things that stand out aren't always the things that are instantly visible to the eye. The admirable goals attained, the kindness, the empathy, the shyness, the humor, the generosity--the truly super things--these are the things that make us superheroes to who we're with... I need to remember this.

Beauty is the promise of happiness  ~ Stendhal

Have a super-beautiful Wednesday. 


SwedishJenn said…
I think I love you. You always seem to post the right posts at the right time. I don't know whether to stand on my roof and shout really loud into a megaphone, "You can do it Jen!" or give you a nudge on the couch, "Let's finish off that pirate booty." As someone who has struggled with weight issues her entire life, I find it entertaining to read from those of you lucky-ones, who have those few extra (and likely barely noticeable) pounds creep up in the prime of your life. Until recently, you've never had to think twice about sucking down a bag of doritos or ordering an extra scoop at the parlor. Whereas food has always equaled guilt for me and "a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips" couldn't ring truer in my world. I am likely a good 20 lbs smaller than I was 6 years ago or anytime in my adult life. But that's not good enough, it never is. 1) "I wish I would've known then, what I know now." I look at pics of me back in the early 2000s and wonder how the hell my husband of almost 10 years could sleep with me. Ok, I wasn't morbidly obese, but a good size 12-14. And those were supposed to be my glory days. Why wasn't I thinner back then? When it really counted? You know before wrinkles/age/entering MILFdom started competing with body weight for attention. But I can't go back. 2) A year after the little man was born, I had achieved a pretty dramatic weight loss (from 86.6 down to 68ish kilos, you do the conversion but likely about 40lbs?). And I kept it off for a good 2 years. The best part about that time? I was not preoccupied with food. For the first time in my life, food was sustenance. The worst part? I didn't know what I had until I lost it (or gained it). Since then, I've been stuck in the 5 kilo (10 lb) vortex. One week, I'm feeling fab and the next (typically after a party involving barrier-crashing alcohol and feel-good food), I'm staring at the red lines my g-string has emblazoned on my padded hips. I want to get back to that lovely place again...those 2 years of ignorant bliss where food was just food; you know, the place you spent the majority of your life. Holy freakn' rant Jenn! What I'm saying is, whether we've struggled forever or are new to the struggle, it's a struggle all the same. And I think you're right, we need to find that spot within us, that confidence to believe we can do it and nurture that. It shouldn't have to feel like we're sacrificing or depriving ourselves when we see that skinny bitch bury her slender face in that fat dip. I'd like to think that skinny whore's husband is screwing his secretary. Ok, harsh. But I abstain because the love of my wonderful family is the nourishment my soul needs to carry on. Ok, entering lame territory. But, well, I really need to feel good about me and make the goal "healthy for my family" vs. "numbers on a scale." Let's end on a overused cliche, shall we? "It all starts from within". We can do it! And...we can do it in such a way as to be able to enjoy the odd scoop and bag of booty (insert bad booty joke). Lots of love, health and happiness to you Jenny! xo
JennyCB said…
Ummm, I think I love YOU, Jenn. Seriously. Obsessed with you. I am. Too late. In love. With you. December can't come quickly enough ~ can't wait to spend some QT with such a cu-TIE. Gawd, will the puns ever STOP? But enough with this Florida-to-Sweden bullshit. Get over here, already. xo
Kelly said…
Can I join in on the love fest? OMG! This was such a beautiful post! As are you! I can't believe you have all these thoughts running through your mind because when I see you, I see this beautiful, confident, carefree, easygoing, no worries, kind, loving, caring person who has everything altogether just right with the perfect balance of fitting it all in simply. Have you seen your house? Enough said! And then have u looked in the mirror lately? more enough said!! I love you and the person you are!! xoxo
SwedishJenn said…
I know Jen, kindred spirits we are! Now I love Kelly too! Group HUG! xo

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