Stand in front of the mirror naked and admire what you see. Whatever you see. This flesh that curves and rolls like the earth. This decorated canvas upon which the world has painted the story of your life.
from Sing Your Body by Brittany Tuttle
The other evening when I sat and talked for hours with Brittany of Vesuvius at Home, at some point I lamented my lost girlhood, my aged-over beauty, the weight I'd gained, something dull and self-absorbed to that effect. Brittany was quick to chastise me for denigrating my body, and then we spoke of the brilliant piece she wrote a while back on her blog called Sing Your Body. Go read it now if you haven't, yet, and then come back. Brittany told me that I reminded her of a Bouguereau female. Bouguereau is a late nineteenth/early twentieth century realist painter of whom I knew nothing. Tonight, I remembered Brittany's comment and looked him up, found a series of beautiful paintings -- lush women, lovely children, portraits of great serenity and sometimes amusement. The first painting that I pulled up was this one:
What struck me was not my resemblance to the woman pictured (there isn't much) but the title of the painting which is Pleasant Burden. I thought, of course, of Sophie and my life with her, the paradox of burden and honor in the carrying of it. I then noticed this painting and thought of Sophie again:
When I saw the following painting, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I might have been a Bouguereau in another life, when flesh was exalted and burdens honored. This year I might just possibly exalt my own flesh, and at the very least, be amused by it. I will also honor my burdens more, recognize and reaffirm the dignity of carrying them lightly.