International Women’s Day

One year ago, I was nearing a ‘perfect peak’ in my exercise routine, ideal weight, and overall physical fitness. We were living within biking distance of a large recreation center where I was able to daily engage in an array of machines and classes, testing myself to go a bit harder and a bit further with every subsequent workout. While at home, I was overwhelmed, disorganized, and in the midst of delayed post-partum darkness, at the gym I was energized, engaged, and looking great.

At the beginning of each workout (and assuming the changeroom was empty) I would hope up onto one of the benches and stand in front of the large mirror. Striking flexes and poses, I congratulated myself on my strength and progress. “Look at me!” I thought, “I don’t look like I gave birth just months ago! I don’t look old! I’m lookin’ good!”. Then I’d hop down and disappear into my exercise-induced high before heading home to express dissatisfaction with my home, exasperation with my children, and frustration to my spouse.

Throughout my time at this rec’ center, there was a woman who became my companion of sorts. We didn’t speak the same language, we didn’t share the same color of skin, and we never saw each outside of that change room, but her face visits my mind even today.

Every morning at the end of my routine, I’d return to the changeroom and find his individual (I’ll just call her Woman) in front of the mirror.

So ridiculously naked.

Woman had a body that made me look twice. It was amazing. With at least fifty years written on her skin and an array of stories stretched across her barely five-foot frame, she looked to me like some kind of belly-dancing grandma.  When I stole a quick glance, I couldn’t tell where her breasts stopped and her belly began, or ___

Drying off a few feet behind her, I would carefully arrange my towel and hop about with an attempt at modesty which was laughable given my company. Woman would walk about, gathering her things, combing her hair and then, unexpectedly, catching my eye.

Me? I felt like a moron. I was just some skinny white girl staring at an elder Indian woman and wondering how she could go about naked. She? She grinned. She grinned a huge and toothy smile…then kept combing her hair and then singing.

This interaction (which happened several times) remains with me. There I lived, wondering where that pound had gone and where it was going to appear next. Pushing and struggling; covering up, hiding, and living so poorly in the midst of my ‘peak health’. And there she was, just Woman; revealed and smiling, lumps and marks and all.

Today, May 8th, is International Woman’s Day.

For the 101st year, the world is recognizing the value of Women. Perhaps it’s expressed in a worldview different than your own, perhaps it doesn’t make a certain kind of difference, but it’s still a day to mark and remember.

To be Woman is to reveal.
As Woman, I need to stare back at the real story and grin,
then sing it out,
then walk on.

As Women, we need to catch the eyes of the others and draw that story out.
Share in it.
Be a hand in the revelation.

I am Woman.
No one needs to hear me roar, I’ve done enough damage with my own noise already.
But I AM Woman, |
and as I discover the true beauty of that quiet participation and revelation, I will stir beauty and invoke lasting strength.


2 Responses to “International Women’s Day”
  1. Kristin says:

    every friday our middle son has swim therapy at the YMCA, and in order to get to the pool we have to go through the women’s shower room where the older woman are unashamadly showering naked. And by north american standards they are not considered beautiful.. their bodies have been worn and streched over the years with life. but call me crazy, but i think it’s kinda beautiful. Our culture is so strange in it’s obbsession with youth. And i think the most anatractive thing is an older woman who is trying to LOOK young.. usualyl the older woman who have a youthfull spirits are the ones who are the most beautiful compared to the cranky old ladies just trying to look younger.
    Honestly.. i’m looking forward to years of gray hair and skin that isn’t as firm as it use to be.. because along with those things comes wisdom and growth.. Now i can enjoy the body i have now.. and yes it has been worn by three children, three c-sections and various life events… but it is still beautiful despite what it has produced!

    Anyway didn’t mean to ramble. Love this post Dea.
    You are such a beautiful woman!

    • Dea' says:

      Aw, you didn’t ramble– great thoughts! And I heartily agree. I had the same realization that i too was looking forward to those later years. Crazy! 🙂


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