I spent a bit of time this weekend thinking about love. Did you ever wonder as a child what the allure of the glass slipper was? I mean, I am sure it looks lovely on someone who doesn't ever move from one place. Like a dress form. Plus, you know that glass is transparent, so in theory you would have to have really nice feet. But let's consider for a moment how many of us actually have nice feet. Don't lie. Do you REALLY have nice feet?
And then lets remember how smashed up our toes get in a pair of normal shoes, no matter how scrubbed and polished they are. We don't see it and neither does anyone else, so we don't care. Now remember that glass doesn't breathe AT ALL. So what we have are perfectly visible, smashed up, sweaty feet. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know on a normal day I have the balance and grace of a drunk elephant. Those things would be chipped and broken before I got out of the car.
"Glass slipper" via Shutterstock.
Now this is what we are supposed to wear out with our dream man to dance and make everyone at the ball jealous? Oh, come off it. Cinderella's fairy god mother was a sadist.
But for some reason, we are all out there seeking Prince Charming anyway. We are squeezing ourselves into shit that doesn't fit... be it shoes, clothes or personalities... in hopes of catching ourselves a man that will complete us. We primp, we preen, we don't want anyone to see us without our masks of full makeup, hair dye, and tan. I myself gave up on the tan and the hair dye, but I admit quite freely to my make-up complex and complete insecurity. For the most part, it took me until I was into my thirties and already a divorced single mom before I started to come to grips with who I was inside and out, and there are a few things I have had to learn.
If you are a follower if my writing, then you already know my gripes with the world and their teeny, tiny perception of beauty. I will never be a size 2. Or a size 4. Or even a size 6 for that matter. Pre-pregnancy, I was a thin size 8. My genes have blessed me with long legs, a short torso, and wide hips and shoulders. It's damn near impossible to buy cheap jeans. As a kid, I probably looked kind of lanky. As an adult who has carried and birthed my son, I have filled out that frame and now despite still being a size 8, I am of the "curvy" variety... all boobs, butt, and hips.
I dieted, I jogged, I crunched. Weight Watchers, Atkins, starvation, cleanses, I have done my share of trying to mess with what I am. All it did was make me feel like garbage, inside and out. My health would suffer, and mentally I was never going to reach that unobtainable goal of being a size my body was never designed to be.
I like food! I love to cook, I love to bake, and nothing makes me happier when I AM in a relationship than to spoil the man good and proper with my kitchen abilities. I am not going to eat a salad unless I want to eat a salad. Fortunately, I really like salad! I am not unhealthy.
I exercise daily. I take a vitamin. I have no desire to look like Skeletor, Sally from the The Nightmare Before Christmas, or any other wispy thing that looks like it would break in a stiff breeze.
Then there are my insides. They have been a long standing work in progress. As someone who grew up battling depression and its many manifestations, learning to like yourself for who you are despite all of what I stated above. Society throws in our faces what they have deemed beautiful is, and when we don't fit that mold, we start to assume that love won't find us. We don't fit that standard of beauty, so who is going to think we are beautiful? It's a battle inside your mind at times about whether we stay true to ourselves and risk not being beautiful to everyone else, or doing what feels best and most like ourselves and saying FUCK IT to what everyone else views as "beautiful."
Somewhere in all that sea of "everyone" we tend to be concerned with are our potential partners, we rationalize, and that is why we have to care. But it's exhausting. At some point, we need to grow the fuck out of that. I did. In my thirties.
The mainstream changes from decade to decade, and I have never really been too good with following it anyway. I like to do what makes me comfortable in my own skin. A lot of my demeanor comes from the music that fuels my life, and that music tends to be on the more alternative scale, into branches of punk, ska, and heavier rock. So I look into the mirror and find a curvy, dancing, punk rock girl looking back at me and wondering if someone out there looks at the same thing and says "beautiful."
It's rather common. I am a woman. We all do this. We can say "I don't care what anyone thinks" until we are blue in the face, but if that was really true, cosmetics and fashion would not be the billion dollar industries that they are.
We do care. Those of us that are single don't necessarily want to die this way. So we seek our Prince Charming. But I think the biggest thing I have had to explain to myself, and to my friends at the same time, was that PRINCE CHARMING DOESN'T EXIST... and that's ok! What does is exist is us. Who we are. On the inside. Our heart, our soul, and that person we work to perfect. The person we seek is not a prince. The person we seek is a concept. What we seek is LOVE.
When we are little girls, we want the dream. We want the castle and smiles that never end and the fairy tale love that only makes sense until the first broken heart we encounter. Then we start on the process of learning that love is not a theory. Love is a living breathing concept that has to be fed and nurtured, or it will die. We usually don't learn this until we have had it and lost it. I know I didn't.
I had two engagements, one marriage, one divorce, and numerous broken hearts. I was duped, fooled, toyed with, played, and used. I was a rebound. I had a rebound. I took love apart into tiny little pieces and I put it back together, and I cried myself to sleep because it didn't look the same. I had love that I didn't know what to do with, and I let it fall apart and wash down the drain. I have been on the top of the world, and down in the sewer from the standard effects of love.
I read once that you can get the same effect from eating a lot of chocolate. I think the person that said this was heartbroken and probably a woman with PMS. There is nothing that compares to love when it is real, when it is reciprocated, and when it is brand new. There is nothing that hurts more than love when it falls apart. After we have had and lost, and had again and lost, we still search.
Even after we declare we would rather hypnotize ourselves into loving vagina (as my best friend and I have said on more than one occasion... then we remember that vaginas are weird) we still crave what we once experienced. So we keep looking for that Prince Charming. What I think we are really looking for is a concept, not a person. We don't actually believe that anyone is coming out of nowhere to sweep us away in bliss. What we want is that goofy smile Cinderella had as she danced. We want the birds to sing, and the music to play (even if only in our heads, and for me, probably Depeche Mode...), and the world to suddenly get warmer.
Love is real. The trick is to know that before love comes from anyone else, it has to come from inside of us. We have to love who we are before we will ever know what to do with someone else's love again. It gets harder as we get older and we have already been through our share of battles in this war to find happiness. But we can find it.
Stop looking outside.
Start looking inside.