Using the photo below, I ran a post on my fb page about the plus-size model industry, and I received an overwhelmingly positive response. She is a beautiful woman. (Featured image and photo below: Plus-size model Katya Zharkova. Photo credit: Victoria Janashvili/Plus Model Magazine, www.plusmodelmag.com)
When I saw this picture I was immediately struck by how familiar she looked. Not that I’d ever seen this particular woman before – but her body, with all of its so-called imperfections, the extra flesh on her bottom, the curve of her stomach and the size of her breasts – she looks like, what I imagine, many women look like – and in fact, if I remember correctly, much like I looked when I was her age. I felt an overwhelming sense of regret – because of course, I always thought I was too fat. Didn’t many of us who weren’t blessed with a long, lean frame, who ate too much sometimes, who didn’t exercise as vigorously as we might have – didn’t we all to some degree, resemble this beautiful girl? And seeing her made me feel so sad for the 22 year old me, the one who was skinny for, I don’t know, maybe 2 months of my life, and thought I was fat the rest of the time (including in the picture below). This size 12 model is just about as beautiful as a woman can be. And so, I guess, was I – and you, too, if you were squeezing your size 12 butt into a size 10 pair of jeans and sitting in a heap on the floor, crying because of those extra 10 pounds. Or maybe you were worse off than that, maybe you were making yourself throw up, or taking laxatives, or swallowing speed. Just to be thin. Just so you (and I) wouldn’t look like her. Isn’t that awful?
I think I’ve finally reached the point, at nearly 50, where I’ve (most of the time) learned to love and accept my body for what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments when I feel fat and unattractive, but they aren’t nearly as frequent as they were when I was young. I have friends who are slim and friends who aren’t, but they all, no matter what size, are uncomfortable when their jeans are too tight. We each have our particular body part that makes us nuts – everything from big feet to short legs, a wide bottom to a bothersome belly. Some have wrinkles they detest, others hair that’s hard to manage. But I guarantee you that none of us is looking at the others and saying to ourselves “if only her arms were more toned, I’d like her so much better.” The things we see when we look at each other are the eyes that are warm, the smile that appreciates our lame jokes, the sympathetic shoulder to cry on. If only that was enough for us.
And our husbands – I don’t think there’s much complaining going on. In fact, I bet if you asked each one of my friend’s husbands, they wouldn’t trade their wives for Angelina, Jennifer, or Madonna. Well, maybe for a night or two (or more…). But when all is said and done, when you love someone – I mean truly love someone – the imperfections aren’t important. The body is part of the whole person, not the only thing – something my younger self couldn’t truly understand.
There is power in confidence, and this woman in this picture, she has it. She knows she’s beautiful, in spite of what the fashion industry, the movie business, the celebrity pundits would say. I love that about her, and I only wish I could have felt that way all along. And I hope that any young woman who sees this picture will look at herself and see someone lovely, too.