The doyenne of adolescent and college student health history, Knitting Clio, has written an utterly appropriate lesson for girls, number 11: “Love your body.” She adds some thoughts too about Brooke Shields, and even scares up one of those scandalous old magazine advertisements for Calvin Klein Jeans. (Just click here to see it–go on, click–I know you’re curious. Doesn’t Shields look incredibly young to be wearing all of that makeup? It was the 1980s, friends–that’s how we rolled when we were in our early teens.) KC writes, “I both hated and emulated [Shields] for those Calvin Klein ads — they were one of the (many) reasons I disliked my body. I dieted strenuously and got real skinny so I could fit into my pair of CKs. Other girls in my high school went further and were hospitalized for anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.” She continues:
In graduate school, I worked with Joan Jacobs Brumberg, and found that what she calls “bad body fever” has been a problem that has plagued women for at least a century. Now that I’m approaching middle age, I’m more tolerant about what my body looks like, even though women of a certain age — like Brooke — who still look fabulous have raised the bar considerably.
Right on, sister. (She reminds us of the “Love your body” campaign, an adjunct of the National Organization for Women.) How much of my teens and twenties did I waste obsessing about this body part or that feature? (How much time when you were young and gorgeous did you waste? How much time are you wasting right now?) What a total waste of my time, energy, and youth. In my 30s, I felt pretty darn great that I didn’t completely fall apart cosmetically (I know–how shallow), and now that I’ve just crossed into my 40s, I’m finally grateful for my body–to have a healthy body that functions well and isn’t in pain seems like a wonderful luxury. It’s done everything I’ve ever asked of it–and more than I deserve, I suppose, considering that I didn’t always take care of it as it should have been cared for. I just spent some time recently with a good friend who’s had breast cancer and a double mastectomy, and who reminded me that good health is nothing to take for granted. So, as Knitting Clio says, love your body–enjoy it, and take care of it.