Note: New information on Ms. Crawford and the photo referenced in this post can be found here.
This week,a photo of Cindy Crawford hit the media like a tidal wave. The news outlets went out of their way to coo supportive words and her husband made sure to post his own picture of his gorgeous wife. I don’t understand. If we were all supposed to be horrified by her because she had some stretch marks, I guess we fell short. I for one, was comforted by the picture. So, thanks, Marie Claire for “leaking” it.
I’m pretty sure if you look beautiful up in the dictionary, Cindy Crawford’s picture is there. She’s almost 50. She’s had children and didn’t get the “no stretch marks” gene. She’s not perfect, and you know what, that’s okay. I think it’s extremely okay, actually. Finding out Cindy Crawford has stretch marks should have made women around the world sigh with relief. We got a peek behind the curtain at a woman who has made a career out of being gorgeous, and by extension, made the rest of the 99.9% of the population wish we were as perfect and gorgeous as she is. Lo and behold, she’s still gorgeous. Her husband is still crazy about her. So, it’s logical that we shouldn’t stress about stretch marks, cellulite, grey hair and wrinkles, right?
Of course we’re going to stress about these things. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure to look younger, sexier and just better on everyone. We live in a society that is completely okay with body shaming as a practice. Some of that comes from the flow of selfies on the internet, splashing ourselves on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m just as guilty of that as anyone else, so I’m not judging. We all want to be accepted and admired, and the internet extends our reach for those things quite a bit. Understanding that we all have that need, I don’t think we should be shaming anyone. We’re so good at it – we’ve had years of practice at being critical and downright mean to women about their appearance. It starts at home, looking at our own reflection in the mirror. We examine every flaw, memorize every bump, wrinkle and crease, wishing for someone to invent Photoshop for every day life. I don’t want anyone else to feel as badly about themselves as I have, so I keep my critiques to myself.
All the same, I am guilty of internally giving in to it – raising an eyebrow when I see much more confident woman wearing something I’d never dare to. I applaud the plus-sized models, the reality shows that highlight women who are overweight living life and rocking it hard. I’ve been on the heavy side my entire life and I know the challenges first hand. I know what it’s like to be laughed at in public for daring to wear a bathing suit to a water park instead of shorts and a t-shirt. I know what it’s like to be out and be completely overlooked by men while my friends fought off male attention. I know what it is to have a man I loved be repulsed and embarrassed by my weight to the point of forgetting why he was ever attracted to me. I know what it’s like to pay more for EVERY article of clothing and still look frumpy and unfashionable, to not be able to find pretty lingerie, to not fit in an airline seat. I know what it feels like to grow up being told that I would be beautiful if I were ten, twenty, thirty pounds thinner. I know it all so well that I can’t help but question people that say they’re choosing to be fat, that being overweight is a happy thing for them. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around someone choosing a physical condition I’ve been miserable about being in and have experienced the worst of. So, no, there is nothing happy about being heavy to me. I’ve hit somewhere in the realm of not plus sized, finally, and that’s a triumph.
Maybe it was the weight, but, I was a late bloomer. Correction, I AM a late bloomer. My awkward phase started in second grade and lasted until maybe ten minutes ago, I think. I haven’t had a chance to adjust to it and now, I am becoming increasingly dependent on lotions, serums, cleansers, creams, treatments, peels, masks and some mysterious concoction I got from a voodoo priestess (Only if she works in the Birchbox customer service department). Each and every item is for holding off the inevitable march of time and I’m only slightly embarrassed about owning them. I think of it as necessary maintenance.There is a graceful, ladylike way to approach middle age and there is the desperate pursuit of youth that borders on the ridiculous. Think Jacqueline Onassis over the Real Housewives of Anywhere. Growing old gracefully has a lot to do with accepting the very things we use as ammunition when body shaming ourselves or someone else. We don’t have to embrace our flaws, and we can even take steps to correct those things, as long as we don’t forget sixteen is in the past. There is nothing that could induce me to be a teenager again. NOTHING. I hated being sixteen. Growing old gracefully is about being comfortable with who you are, owning your style with complete confidence. There is grace in reaching that place in life.
I bet Cindy Crawford already knew that.