Saturating in Feminine BeautyPosted: October 24, 2014
When women come together
Their bodies can reverberate
Creating a rich stew
Of yummy nourishment
I’m floating in a warm pool surrounded by women. Eyes are closed. Hands gently lap the water. Movements are languid, barely making ripples. One woman sits underwater, as if suspended. Above the surface, her breath rises, forming bubbles.
We look like we are hibernating, which in a way we are. This is, after all, a retreat.
It’s just us ladies, so no pressure to pull in one’s tummy to create the illusion of flatness. No need to wear oversize t-shirts to hide soft upper arms or round thighs or skinny hips. No need to walk sexy or look hot. Each of us is resting, saturating in what it feels like to fully inhabit our own skin. We are hiding nothing.
All these women, relaxed in their bodies, have their guard down. They are granting me the privilege of seeing them in all their beauty—flaws, which aren’t even flaws, really—and all.
Out in the world, the definition of a beautiful woman is restricted to such limited ideals. Anyone that doesn’t fit the bill because of tiny breasts, overflowing curves, or fill in the _____ (blank) might make the mistake of thinking she is subpar looking, ugly even.
When I go out in public my first response is to want to scrunch inward—my attempt to squeeze into the narrow images of what beauty is supposed to look like. Stomach compressed in! Skinny jeans on! Show some, but not too much, cleavage.
I try to convince myself that it’s just me I’m reducing down to size. When really, whenever I purposely conform my body into society-approved shape, I’m keeping the objectification of women going.
Here, with this group of women, made up standards of beauty don’t carry any weight. We come together to nourish and support. We gather to shed our shame and self-hatred. We are reclaiming our power, learning to love our bodies.
Even my skin feels like it can breathe more when we’re together. My body relaxes, and I open.
Growing up, looking at other women’s bodies was about comparing. Each glance was another opportunity to rate myself as more than or less than. Always, I was never enough. No one else was ever just right, either.
I didn’t know back then that gazing at a woman’s body could be an act of reverence.
One of the women floats by me on her back. Her soft belly, with its rows of stretch marks, is bare for everyone to see. Another woman stands, the tips of her graying hair create a trail behind her in the water as she heads for the ladder. Her hips, which have curves like a pear, mesmerize with their I’m-taking-my-time sway. She reminds me of Eve in the Garden. All that is missing is a snake to drape around her neck.