Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lessons in Solitude: Garden of, Garden of Sea & Shore.


I love the idea of a beach. It's as close to a Garden-of-Eden scenario as I can get. In my head, I imagine a time of freedom in body image, good health, contentedness in being, close communion in Creator/creation relationship. Absolute perfection.

My idea of a beach: public space where all shapes, sizes and colors congregate - not to host a constant slew of cocktail parties with shallow communication - but to just be. To enjoy the mighty creation of the sea and the sand, wave upon wave, the salty wind in our hair. I truly believe this is what makes the idea of coming to the beach so appealing for me. And yes, so far this day has been gloriously restful and peaceful - lying on Folly Beach, napping, observing, writing. In my observations, however, I have been reminded of something else: the ugly lies of body image insecurities that plague so many, particularly noticing females today. Lots of skinny, tanned girls with skimpy bikinis. Lots of not-so-skinny, not-so-tanned girls (and guys) with t-shirts on over their bathing suits.

I hate the pressure put on women to be a certain color and body type. Driving to Folly Beach, I passed a Subway sign that simply stated, "It's beach season. Eat Subway. Get skinny." Yes, really. No exaggerations here. What were they thinking? Were they thinking?

Maybe part of this frustration stems from the battle with my own skin color and body image. It has taken many years (and still a choice I have to make nearly every day) to feel beautiful in my own skin. I think about how hard it was for me as a child to accept that I had freckles. I used to be so embarrassed by them. I noticed that most other little girls were not as freckle-y as myself and I allowed these observations to give birth to strong insecurity and a belief that I was, in fact, not very beautiful. These days, I cannot imagine feeling beautiful without them. What a creative Father I have! Some get tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery, wear lots of makeup...not that I am against these things, but I've never felt the need for any of them simply because I was already created with splashes of color...

And so I see these different shapes and colors along the beach and I know they are to be enjoyed and truly appreciated...looked upon as one of many creations from what was once many blank canvases. I am stunned by the beauty all around me.

Alas, our media does not feel this way. Sure, there are lots of pretty magazine article titles about "being yourself," but don't gain an inch of width, conceal all of our naturally created beauty and pretend you were born to look like everyone else's skewed idea of what beauty really is. And this, I fear, has become the new definition of "being yourself."

I suppose it is only fair to bring up the topic of good health. I see different sizes here, yes. I would be a fool to not acknowledge that many of the additional (or subtracted) inches I see are a result of improper stewardship of our health.

My "Garden of Eden" is full of varied sizes and good health.

There now, I am done thinking about this topic for now. Time to rest my mind.

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