I Should Have Been by Esther Kane MSW

Esther Kane, MSW (http://www.estherkane.com/) is an Eating Disorders Psychotherapist and author of It’s Not About the Food: A Woman’s Guide to Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies (http://www.endyoureatingdisorder.com/).

My Story:

Being a short, curvy, Jewish gal, I learned from a very early age that the way I looked was not considered desirable.

I had:

– Dark hair, which should have been blonde.
– Dark brown eyes, which should have been ice-blue.
– Curly hair, which should have been straight.
– A naturally curvy and rounded body, which should have been straight up and down and bony-thin.
– Small shoulders when I should have had wide bony ones from which a dress or blouse could be elegantly draped.

I was:

– Short and compact when I should have been tall and lanky.

– Near-sighted and needed glasses because my eyes were too dry for contact lenses when I should have had perfect vision or been able to wear contacts to hide my poor eyesight.

– Long in the torso and short in the legs when I should have been the other way around.

For the most part, I have made peace with these facts about my body over the years. Having recently turned 40, however, I have some extra body image concerns to add to the above lists:

graying hair

wrinkling skin

downward pointing breasts

unexpected weight gain

All of these have come as a major shock as somehow, I guess I thought I would be immune to all of the side effects of aging. But no, Mother Nature would have me learn otherwise. And while I am working really hard at growing older without plastic surgery, Botox, or other toxic attempts to extend my youthful appearance, the weight gain has been a real doozy.

However, I have managed to lose a bit of that weight over the past year through common sense eating and regular exercise. But my size and shape are definitely different from when I was in my twenties- a fact of life that I have resigned myself to as it’s better than the alternative having no body at all.

To be perfectly honest, I am really terrified of aging and ‘losing my looks’. Even though I have never met the standard beauty ideal, I have always been considered pretty, and to some, even beautiful. As much as I would like to think I am more than how I look and preach to other women about the virtues of focusing on who you are on the inside as being the most important thing, I am grieving my youthful body, skin, hair, and face now that I am forty and have officially entered ‘midlife.’

I do not relish the fact that gravity will get me, as it does everyone, in the end. I am not joyfully “embracing” becoming a crone, a wise elder, or a mentor to those younger than me. Frankly, I am pissed right off. I frittered away my young years by falsely thinking I was ugly, fat, or deficient in numerous other ways. Now, when I look back at photos of me during those years, I realize how young, juicy, and gorgeous I actually was. And did I revel in it? Love every minute of it? Appreciate what I had? Nooooooo! Instead, I spent so much time criticizing what I did have and that makes me really sad. Now I truly understand what George Bernard Shaw meant when he proclaimed, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

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Copyright Ark Stories 2011


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