There’s one thread of thought for the over 40 set that says I should be liberated from even noticing that my upper arms have gotten thicker and looser; and there’s another thread that says I should be empowered to make life changes, which should include committing to perfecting my body—challenging the way time colludes with gravity. Unfortunately, I have found a dangling thread that I can’t pull out even if I twist it repeatedly around my finger. This thread brings with it clarity: I can clearly see my arms for what they are, and I can clearly see that I’m not going to do anything about it because I value my time contemplating my arms more than I do the time it would take to do something about my arms.
While I have progressed through my life with its unique combination of life markers, one aspect of self that has remained steadfast is my disaffection with my body paired with a disinclination to do anything about it. It seems that I live a feminist contradiction: to care about my body and not to care my body; to care about my image and not to care about my image. Am I honest? Or is it disappointment? Does my not acting on my self-critique mean that I am strong or that I am weak? Do I rise above societal expectations for how I should look, or am I mired in them, sinking with a silent rebellion that is more inertia than anything else?
It’s hard for a woman to live clearly in a world that filters through our protective gauze of ego. But isn’t that our responsibility: to distinguish between here and there, me and the universal you. Is this where our women’s intuition comes in, to push against the narrative that pummels us and, instead, seek truth, the truth of what it feels like to be with and within my skin. A challenge. A challenge to unfurl the layer that has not protected me, but has inhibited me.
Does anyone care if I wear a tank top, exposing my grandma arms (mimicking solid and pendulous Grandma E. straight from Russia) to the sweet, sweaty sun of summer or the stale, stuffy air of my classroom? It is time to live beyond the contradictions and become one person, committed to filtering into her own reality. So thank you for a lifetime of grooming and clothing suggestions, I’ll take it from here.