Last week my parents took our family down to Tennessee for vacation. We went to a water park and had a fantastic time. We floated around the lazy river, got bashed about in the wave pool, and climbed more steps than I like to think about to ride the slides. It was a much needed rest, before embarking on a crazy amount of travel for both Jason and me.
The thing about visiting a water park is that you spend pretty much your entire vacation in a swim suit. And even in a really modest swim suit, you can’t really hide very much. You can flaunt those nice parts, but the flaws – well, those are going to be visible as well.
More than once I caught myself thinking, “Please don’t look too hard. Please don’t notice the cellulite. Please don’t notice the bulges. Please don’t notice the stretch marks. And please, please, please don’t judge me.”
But honestly, it’s hard not to judge in an environment like that. As much as I didn’t want anyone looking at me with a critical eye, I had a hard time affording them the same courtesy. That woman really should know better than to wear a bikini. That man should maybe not hit the tanning bed so hard. She must have had work done because no one could have boobs that perky.
Exposed people become less like people, and more like parts. Parts that are easily judged.
So we cover up that which we fear is unacceptable. If it will be deemed judge-worthy, we suck it in, tuck it up, pin it down.
But my parents and kids and husband didn’t care about my cellulite or bulges or stretch marks. They just wanted me to be myself and have fun. They wanted me to climb the steps with them and scream my head off in the giant funnel ride. They wanted me to laugh and play and swim. Not encumbered by coverings. Not stiff from holding in my stomach. Not self-conscious.
My parts have meaning to these people. Arms that hug. Breasts that comfort. Legs that run to.
They are parts, but they make up the whole, and they love the whole.
They have judged the parts and found them acceptable.