Becoming a mother led me to do things I wouldn’t have otherwise imagined:
- Eating off of another human being’s plate
- Going for more than one day without showering
- Losing my gag reflex over bodily substances – as long as they came from my kids or pets.
- Inviting all the medical residents/interns/custodial staff at the hospital to watch me give birth. (Okay, I made that one up. But after going through fertility treatments, it wouldn’t have fazed me.)
- Wearing a swimsuit in public.
Out of all those choices, wearing a swimsuit was probably the hardest. It wasn’t like I had declined dozens of pool party invitations over the years so no one would see me in a swimsuit. But honestly, when planning leisure activities, anything involving a swimming pool went way to the bottom of the list.
On those occasions that did involve a body of water, I utilized some coping skills. That’s shrink-talk for reducing stress without doing something extreme like taking drugs or cutting yourself. I became a master of surreptitious sarong-wrapping.
Post-kids, my priorities shifted. Because with little humans to nurture, I had better things to worry about than swimsuits and cellulite.
So what if someone might notice that my normal levels of adipose tissue might bulge a bit due to the structural alignment of my connective tissue. Yes, that’s what cellulite really is. It’s when body fat – and we all need some body fat – gets pushed into the spaces created by connective tissue just below your skin surface.
Ever notice that men don’t get cellulite? Lord knows, they have just as many “toxins” in their lives as women. (Hello, Doritos and Budweiser.) And although women tend to have more body fat overall, men certainly have body fat, too. Just not cellulite, because men’s and women’s skin and connective tissue are different.
In the past, cellulite was treated neutrally, not like a horrible disfigurement. Back in my grandma’s day, little dimples were actually formed in padding that was sold to women so they wouldn’t look so skinny. This is before the phrase “junk in the trunk” came about, but it’s the same idea. It was kind of an anti-girdle.
Our current aversion to cellulite is a cultural construction. Fifty years from now, we as a culture may embrace cellulite and feel faint with disgust when we see people with tiny hips and large breasts – which has been the beauty ideal for a while now. This body type is quite rare naturally; large-busted women typically have relatively wide hips.
For a bit of time-travel through advertising meant to make women feel terrible about themselves, have a peek at this.
Personally, I don’t think we should feel faint with disgust about anyone’s body. Ever.
Let’s reset our priorities to what’s really important. Let’s triage.
Here’s what I’ve taught my sons about life-and-death situations.
- People are more important than pets. As much as we adore and love our pets, it’s most important to get people out of the house during a fire or other emergency.
- People, then pets, are more important than stuff. So leave it behind.
Here’s my non-emergency adaptation of that list, revised over time and experience:
- Sleep is more important than showers.
- Spending time with your family is more important than a clean house.
- Enjoying yourself with your friends and family is more important than whether you have cellulite.
- Focusing on your own life is way more important than paying attention to what anyone else looks like in a swimsuit.
With a revamped mindset, it makes it a lot easier to venture to the water park or lake and dive in instead of sitting on the sidelines. It’s much more fun.