Brand building through storytelling

I am at two with my body (i.e., a typical woman)

My body, two weeks shy of 60, has been acting like a cranky preschooler. It’s forever whining, “I don’t wanna!” Or “You can’t make me!” If I dare to press the point, my body lets loose with “I HATE you!” All because I’ve asked it nicely to do what other well fed, lovingly tended, meticulously exercised bodies (including, until recently, my own) are doing without protest.

For instance, attend a birthday bash in zebra-print pumps without rubber soles or laces. I didn’t ask for any heel-kicking high jinks on the dance floor, just a modest sashay from the car to the festivities. My husband, striding ahead, looked back over his shoulder with a brusque “Aren’t you coming?” In the dark, he couldn’t see me wince. Anyone could see me totter—not the entrance I had in mind. My body had won.

I’ve tried to jolly it along, this killjoy body of mine: “If you just get me through the night without an Ibuprofen break, I’ll let you get all cozy and loose in the whirlpool tomorrow.” Silly me! My body insists on a fancy-schmancy, joint-relieving mattress engineered with NASA space technology, plus the matching contoured neck-friendly pillow, plus an array of silk cushions to support the achy parts. I remember when my body would curl up like a puppy and drift off to sleep the way a decent body should. Now it has more demands than Anna Wintour lighting into a failed photo shoot. Too hot! Too cold! Too lumpy! Too obscurely, maddeningly…wrong!

Sometimes I wish I could pack it off to body obedience school. And then it springs the most deliciously unlikely surprise.

Two weeks ago in cooldown at my dance class, it settled into child’s pose with just the slightest mutter of resistance—an “I could get used to this” sort of thing. Child’s pose is supposed to be the easiest pose in yoga short of lying on your back, and if I had stuck with yoga for the past dozen years or so, my ankles would never have tightened to the point where they flat-out refused to be sat upon. (As my yoga teacher used to say, “You don’t get old and stiff. You get stiff—and then you get old.”) But yoga class didn’t burn calories or spruce up my body for swimsuit season. I figured my ankles could fend for themselves—until I noticed, in my weekly dance class, that somewhere along the line they had gone on strike. I didn’t have much hope for the special foot-and-ankle exercises. But lo and behold, they’re working.

Remember Woody Allen’s line “I am at two with nature?” That’s how I’ve always felt about my body. It’s been an adversary to tame, to be coaxed into slithery dresses and (back in my reckless youth) sexy shoes, with the nagging suspicion that it might show me up. And most women seem to share that view. Sixty percent of women put up with uncomfortable shoes, compared to fewer than 2 percent of men (this just in from a study of nearly 4,000 Americans). Women, unlike men, have a private lexicon of disparaging terms for uncooperative body parts. We have “crankles” (thick ankles), “fried eggs” (flat breasts), “muffin tops” (belly flesh) and “hi betty’s” (the underarm flesh that jiggles when you wave to your friend). We Google “look better naked” and find 32,000 retreads of the same old useless advice.

Enough of this, I say. It’s late in the game for me to start looking better naked, and I’ll have to pass on those thigh-high dominatrix boots that women of style are said to crave this fall—tight as gloves, heavy with hardware, the whole apparatus perched on a teetering sliver of heel. I’d rather be at one with my body for the first time in memory. All I have to do is accept the corporeal me for what it is instead of cursing what it cannot be. Not easy. But you know what? Resentment, envy, wishful thinking…I’ve discovered that’s a whole lot harder.

Sleep—and what it takes to get there—is a favourite topic of mine. Let’s just say I’m a reluctant expert on insomnia. I’ve written here about behaviour therapy for sleep problems (it worked for me), and here about a ritual that soothes me on restless nights.


Posted by Rona

Leave a Reply

Stay up-to-date with Rona.

To see what’s on my mind these days, friend me on Facebook.

Miss my old site?

Visit the archive to find your favorite blog posts and Chatelaine editorials or browse my published articles. Sorry, I’m not blogging anymore.