The Butterfly Effect
I’m 40. It’s weird being 40. I have money to buy nice clothes and go on nice holidays and I have a much deeper sense of self, but I also have wrinkles and squishy bits where before there was no squish.
It’s like I’m in a battle between world domination and impending doom. I want to don a cape and at the same time immerse myself in a vat of Olay Regenerist. How does one live with such polarity every day? It’s exhausting.
One of the weirdest polarity issues I’ve had is contending with the visible/invisible phenomenon. I was a looker in my youth. No, really. I was lithe and athletic, I had an amazing mane of natural blonde hair, I had lovely skin, and I had a bum that stopped traffic. Okay, okay, I’m not sure it literally stopped traffic, but it did cause a poor soul to walk into a pole once and knock himself out. See? I was so visible even my bum had its own butterfly effect going on. But now, with my wrinkles and my not so lustrous hair and my muffin-tops, I’m almost invisible now. It’s weird, going from one to the other in what feels like a very short space of time. On one hand, I love being less visible, doing what I please, when I please, wearing whatever the hell I feel like. On the other hand, where the hell have my admirers gone to?! Where are the dudes that walk into light posts because I’m so GOD-DAMNED AMAZING?
You see the conundrum here.
Of course – really – I am still amazing, just in a different way to my youthful-knock-yourself-out-looking-at-my-bum amazing. And that’s okay; it’s great, in fact. It’s just taking a little bit of getting used to, because said conundrum has everything to do with the fact that we live in a society that values a sexy bum on a woman more than her wisdom.
So, if I’m now invisible to society, where does my value – my worth, come from? It doesn’t come from the thousands of images and messages I receive every day through social media and on TV and on the sides of buses and trains and in magazines and online telling me that in every conceivable way my appearance isn’t good enough and never will be. It has to come from within and from my peers. And by peers I mean my girlfriends – the amazing women in my life, of which there are many. And that’s not to say that I don’t think the men in my life can add to my sense of self-worth, but I do think for this behemoth to turn around, women have got to be able to do this as a collective. We need to be able to say, out loud, around one another, that we’re beautiful and okay just as we are. Squishy, make-upped, non make-upped, tall, short, round, thin, hairy, dark, fair, spotty, wrinkly… it’s ALL beautiful and perfect just as it is.
This has to be my gift to the women coming up the ranks behind me. It also has to be my gift to myself. No-one else is ever going to know my true, wondrous amazingness better than me. Who else can see the things I dream up in my head, the dances I choreograph, the stories I invent, the compliments I think as strangers pass me by, the sheer amount of love that I have to give and how much I can nurture? Me, me, it’s all me who will ever really know these things. So it’s my job to love myself. It’s my job to know my worth and how very little it has to do with the size of my breasts or how thick my eyelashes are. But it’s also my job to say this – aloud – to you, and to you, and you, and you, and you, and you. Until collectively, we believe it, deep in our bones – that we are perfect, all of us, exactly as we are.