Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
was out shopping today for something to wear to a senior class banquet at the
university. I mention the occasion so that you will know I was not shopping in
the sweat pants and XXL T-shirt section as I usually am lately. I was looking
for something moderately nice. With buttons maybe. And what I heard in the dressing
rooms in two different stores was shocking! Shocking! All I heard, every single
sentence, had something or the other to do with whoever was speaking complaining
about themselves. Most of them were too fat. Some were also too tall, too short,
too old, too pale or too out of shape. |
These were, presumably, perfectly
nice women. They were women who probably notice and compliment a friendís new
haircut or sandals. They were women who, if I had stepped out of my stall and
asked for advice, would have told me that coral was very nice on me and they liked
the cut of the slacks, and then wondered if I had a chunky silver necklace to
wear. Nice women.
But they werenít being nice to themselves. They were
being horrible to themselves. They wouldnít have talked to a dog the way they
were talking about themselves.
And it wasnít just them. I was doing it
too, have been doing it all my life. I noticed, and not for the first or thousandth
time, that my arms are disproportionately long, that my hips looked capable of
having carried to term the entire population of a small Baltic country. One or
two little Balts at a time. My belly looks like a big plastic bag of yogurt suspended
from my torso. Not yogurt in containers. Just yogurt. Or Jell-O. Something like
that. My bust is too small, my arms are forced out from my body at an awkward
angle as torso fat and arm fat meet and struggle for dominance. My feet are as
wide as they are long and I canít wear skirts because my leg veins look like a
Google Map of a medium sized Midwestern farming community. State roads, county
roads, city roads, each in a different color.
I say these things about anybody else in the world? I would not. I would not even
think them. Which brings me to Susan Boyle of "Britainís Got Talent" fame. Have
you heard her yet? Have you seen her? She has a voice like mulled wine. Like simmering
honey. Like wine with honey in it. In a gold goblet. If you listen to her singing
"Cry Me a River" you see in your mind someone voluptuous in a red sequined dress.
Someone with glistening lips and smoldering eyes.
But she is not that way.
Susan Boyle is us. She has a sturdy body, a ruddy complection and eyebrows entirely
innocent of wax or tweezers or thread. She wears sensible shoes. She appears to
be, like me, not very adept with blow dryer or curlers. Some of us are just not
gifted that way. She looks perfectly pleasant, seems unassuming and absolutely
nice. She looks like she might smell like vanilla and Windsong with a little hint
of Vickís Vapor Rub floating about.
And instead of denigrating herself
in a dressing room, bemoaning the ravages of time and the twenty extra pounds
around her middle, she has put herself bravely before a television audience of
millions, opened her mouth and shown us all who she is inside. She was brave enough
to do that. She was brave enough to stand on the stage watching the audience and
the judges roll their eyes and snicker. And then she showed them just exactly
what was what. Listen to her sing "I Dreamed a Dream" and donít weep. I double
dog dare you.
Forty-three million people have watched and listened to
her on Youtube in the last week. Well, forty-two million, nine hundred ninety
five thousand. I watched it five thousand times myself. Approximately. She planted
her feet firmly on the stage, opened her mouth, and the world fell in love with
And that my friends is what I propose we do. All we women "of a certain
age." All we mothers of grown up children. All of us who get up every morning
and do what we are supposed to do, who make lists of more things to do. All of
us who had dreams, who still dream, who still have that in us which might be great,
might be worthwhile and wonderful. Which might, if we tried, transcend wonderful
and be amazing. If Susan can do it so can you and so can I. But not if we waste
all of our energy on self-loathing. Thatís a waste of time and effort. Guess what?
Weíre never going to be twenty again. Too bad, so sad. So if weíre not going to
be twenty, what are we going to be? What marvelous things are we capable of being
and doing? And more to the point, when are we going to get started?
Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" April 25, 2009 Column
Topics: Texas Escapes Online Magazine
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