November 6, 2011

Sunday Inspiration: Experiencing "Beauty"



About a year ago, my friend Stefanie sent me a link to a blog post titled "Real Postpartum Mom Bodies, Real Beauty." I've kept this post in mind over the months and today I decided to return to it for a more in-depth look. 
The post showcases a water colour artist and photographer from Oklahoma who currently lives in Ireland, and who actually has her own blog (which is amazing! Visit it here). This artist, Erin, has posted these photos of herself taken by her husband after she gave birth to her daughter. He has accompanied these photos with this message: “you are beautiful, do you know that? and your imperfections make you even more perfect.” In a follow-up post, Erin responds: 
i’m a mama…
my body is so imperfect and soft and sexy in a different way. in a real way… in a way that my husband grabs me and wants me. in a powerful way that- i carried life, i gave birth, and i nourish this babe.  in a way that- i know i look more like you and less like airbrushed images. genuine and honest and imperfectly perfect.

being vulnerable can be powerful.  loving yourself can be even more.
you don’t have to get naked and take pictures of yourself.  you don’t have to be brave.
just start with compassion. for. yourself.
open your eyes wide and see the bigger picture. see beyond what stands in the mirror.

Although I have a problem with emphasizing that there is a "real" body and a "real" beauty, I LOVE that Erin points out the extent to which female beauty is  constructed by our society and culture, especially according to a particular body type and physical appearance. For some reason beauty is constructed as coming from the outside only, void of feeling and emotion--an object that women can become if they try hard enough.
But Erin negotiates around the "beautiful" skinny female ideal, she resists it, challenges it. She insists that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes. But she implies that it is also felt, experienced, embodied. She feels proud of her postpartum body, she embodies her proud feelings. She experiences beauty in motherhood. Isn't that beautiful?

Are there not moments in our culture when we can at least momentarily push aside the pervasive ideas that define us, confine us? I think so. How will you resist them?

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