Standing in the Academia Museum in Florence, Italy, in all his glory, is Michelangelo’s David. Said to be the perfect depiction of the human body, this sculpture is visited by approximately 3 million people each year. But just around the corner from the statue of the perfect body stand Michelangelo’s non-finito sculptures, the Slaves. For many years, it was thought that these four pieces of marble were simply unfinished works, but many scholars now believe that the great master purposely left them the way they are to portray man’s struggle to break free of his bondage – perhaps his own internal or perceived shortcomings.
The other day, as I was getting into the shower, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. As usual, I started thinking about how inadequate my body is with its scars and rolls, far from the perfection sought by the great masters or by society. Then it hit me. The scar that runs along my lower abdomen represents the 3 beautiful children I brought into this world. Without that scar, there would not be Rebecca, Katie, or Morgan. Those rolls, that I work so hard to get rid of, are a result of a combined twenty-seven months of carrying my children. The lines and shadows on my face trace the many joys and tears of a good life.
I worry about my girls and how they see themselves in this world
where girls are expected to be pencil thin and have perfect, unblemished bodies. I’m pretty sure that when the Bible said that God created us in His image, it didn’t mean that God looks like Channing Tatum or Naomi Campbell, so why are those the types of bodies that we all worship? Do three million people stand agape in front of the David because they recognize the bodily perfection or because they are seeking it and can’t find it in the real world? Is there truly a “perfect” body?
What have we done to our youth? Most girls and young women don’t have childbirth scars, wrinkles, and the like, yet everyone expects them to have absolute perfect bodies no matter their genetic makeup or body type. We actually had a doctor prescribe dieting and extra workouts for a child who is a year-round athlete and eats nothing but healthy food. I don’t know whether to worry about her becoming overweight or spiraling into bulimia. The idea that all girls should look like a Kardashian is ridiculous. And we mothers, grandmothers, big sisters, and aunts – in fact, all women – need to stop contributing to that fallacy. Being healthy is good, being overly conscious about our weight and bodies is not. Stop talking about being “fat,” and posting memes on Facebook with complaints about your body, and most of all, stop putting down other women for the way they look. Let’s rejoice in who we are and we have to offer this world.
When I look at my friends who have multiple children, I see true beauty, inside and out. When I look at my friend who suffered from anorexia, I see someone who is brave and strong and can do anything she puts her mind to. When I see girls trying their hardest on the field or in the classroom, I see young women learning where and how they belong in this world. When I see girls scantily dressed, showing off body parts that should only be seen in the shower, I wonder what they will do someday when faced with body fat, wrinkles, age spots. How will they adapt? Do they not know that their bodies will only look like that for a short time and that there is so much more that they can and should be proud of?
So I ask each of you females to make a pledge today to become unbound. Stop complaining about the way you look. You are beautiful. And if you don’t like it, change it, but do it right. Let your daughters or those other young women in your life who look up to you see that you like yourself and that you are living a healthy lifestyle, looking out for your body’s best interests but not trying to be something that society says you have to be. Do it for you, not because you think someone else believes that you should look a certain way. And point out the good in the women you know, not their flaws.
I ask each of you males – husbands, boyfriends, fathers – tell the females in your life that you love them just the way they are. Don’t just tell them that they are beautiful because beauty is fleeting and subjective, and eventually, they won’t believe you anymore. Find the very best things in them and help to make those parts shine for the world to see. We must get past the superficial and start appreciating each other for who we are and what we have to give.
There are very few Davids in this world, but there are many Slaves. We are all slaves to our bodies, to the demands of society, to the inner voice that tells us we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, sexy enough. It’s time to break out of the marble that encases us and be slaves no more to the warped idea of perfection. It’s okay to aim for perfection, but know that we are human, and humanity is far from perfect, unless of course, it’s carved in stone. And I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather lie in bed next to a warm, soft, imperfect body than a cold, hard, perfectly chiseled piece of marble.
Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.