I got up early Saturday morning. This is not unusual, but I used the time to treat myself to a good cup of coffee and perfectly toasted bagel from the Coffee Girls Cafe. I sat there lingering and sketching out the garden, making a list of plants I wanted to buy. Then I headed over to Target and Trader Joe's to buy the general stuff that one buys at these stores. It all sounded like a decent plan. I was out and about before the crowds of people showed up. Essentially I knew I would have the shops to myself. But then I stopped in the swimsuit section of Target.
We are almost a month away from our vacation that involves a beach. I have looked at swimsuits online, but I just don't trust myself to order the right size. Also I feel like $100 is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on swimwear. All of the cute suits I've seen online are about that price. I decided that I would just smash my body into something cheap and be the only person holding a camera while on vacation. I pulled three suits from the rack and headed back to the dressing rooms where I removed all of my clothes under the cold glow of fluorescent lights. I tugged on one of the latest one piece styles that had the doily part on the sternum and cutouts on the sides. I watched as that doily stretched out across my belly and then cringed at how the color of the almost white fabric blended in with my skin. I peeled it off without even attempting the ties. I tried on the next one piece with a ribbed front and thought "OK". It wasn't too bad. The color didn't clash with my skin. Then I turned to the side to look and realized that my body is shaped like a bean. I am a human bean.
I ended up with my third option, a retro black and white polka-dotted one piece. I felt like the dots distracted you a little from my bean shaped belly. I put my clothes back on and finished my shopping. Then I sat in the car and cried for about five minutes. This is it. This is my body right now. I suppose it's true that you are what you eat and I do eat a lot of beans. I am a round bean with decent legs and gangly arms. I eat kale and mung beans and walk over 12,000 steps a day. And I weigh 170 lbs. I posted that picture of my bean figured portrait not for reassurance that I do not look like that. I don't need to hear that I am beautiful. I certainly don't need to be compared to a 31 week pregnant woman, but I don't need to hear that my body is perfect. These are things I don't need. Because I hear them. I hear all of you telling me that image is not a true representation of me. What I need is to believe that my body is fine and good and beautiful just the way it is right now. I need to look in the mirror and not cringe at this shape, but see it for it's unique beauty.
I don't know why I am struggling with this or why this has always been a struggle for me. I can remember that summer between being preteen and teenage years when I'd finally lost my baby fat. We were in swimsuits, walking down to the lake and one of our close family friends mentioned that it looked like I'd lost weight. I said "thank you, but I'm still going to try to lose some more." She was adamant that I didn't need to lose anymore. In fact she said that I was skinny enough and that if I lost any more weight, I'd be unhealthy. I looked down at my bean shaped belly with confusion. Was she looking at the same body I was looking at?! Because my body certainly didn't look like any of the girls that graced the cover of Seventeen. Looking back now, I think that was the only time any one had ever told me that I was skinny enough. I was raised on the idea of thin and wispy and the older so called wiser women in my life warned against eating that second roll. Their advice for removing the bean shape of my belly was to just not eat, making food the reward, a treat.
I've moved past the food being a treat thing. I eat the way I eat now not because it's healthy, but because it's food I want to eat. I like mung beans and kale. Now I need to move past the idea that there's something wrong with the shape of my body. Hello. My name is Cindy Maddera and my body is shaped like a bean. No, I am not pregnant and if you ask me if I am, I will verbally abuse you so hard you will wish that I had just punched you in the face. Not all women have concave bodies. Beans are beautiful.
And so is my belly.