learning to see myself

yesterday i was on a plane and looked across the aisle at a beautiful woman. she was round in every way a woman could be, a round soft chin, round breasts pillowing out of her shirt, round thighs pressed into leggings, round tummy. her hair was curled and sort of floating around her head.

and she looked just delicious to me.

i couldn’t take my eyes off her. when she picked up on me seeing her, i reduced my attention to sneaking glances, not wanting to send the wrong message. i wasn’t flirting, just observing something, and having a visceral reaction.

she looked beautiful.

and she looked like me.

this has happened to me more and more lately. my head is being turned by new bodies, genuinely turned. i am not stretching to see the beauty – i am being struck by it. the curves are immensely pleasing to me, i see an inspiring soft that i know for a fact to feel good.

i also know it is possible to be round and healthy and do yoga and eat right. to be losing weight and be beautiful already.

i was sent an article recently on america’s forgotten pin-up girl, a ‘zaftig’ woman named hilda. her arms, the proportions of her small feet and hands to her plump arms and calves, felt familiar and, again, pleasing.

i was sharing all of this with a dear friend last night and she said, it is a retraining of the eyes.

yes, i thought, exactly that. i have spent several years building up my capacity to see myself. taking pictures. sharing those pictures. looking in mirrors. not looking away. and realizing that this is a political act. because women who look like me are not presented in the mainstream, or most streams, as beautiful.

and now it isn’t just a capacity to see myself, which is in and of itself a revelation, a freedom, and a falling in love iterated with stolen glances. but it is also an authentic joy that i am now able to see this wider realm of beautiful bodies. it feels like a jailbreaking of my mind. the life and strength, resilience, the sweet weight of life in other bodies and in my own – it has taken my whole life to learn to see myself.

and, somewhere between a mantra and a reality i can say: i am a beautiful woman.