SISTERS IN ARMS
Without exception at every Laila Goddess event the majority of women initially resist considering my sleeveless tops and dresses because, heaven forbid, arms will be exposed.
95% of the women I meet have issues with their arms.
Deep seated, rigid, non-negotiable beliefs about unacceptable upper limbs rise up like a dark horrible taboo secret to be kept out from the light of day.
It distresses me to witness this relentless epidemic of shame.
Monumental mass embarrassment.
So I’m going to talk to you from my heart about your issues with your arms.
It’s time to stop this assault on and rejection of your truly undeniably lovable self.
Yes your body is no longer that of a 25 year old, toned and firm, free from the laws of gravity.
Yes you may look your age.
Yes you may indeed be bigger than before.
So is your heart. Your ability to love grows bigger too.
You have an enlarged capacity for compassion, compromise, letting go.
You are hugely better at expressing healthy boundaries.
All these also expand with age.
Ridiculing your arms as flabby, jiggly, gargantuan, ugly or horrible simply isn’t OK.
Believing any part of you is unfit to be seen isn’t OK.
Hiding your arms does not fool anyone into not judging or accepting you- Nothing stops people like that.
But honestly, is that how you measure up other women?
By the size and sway of their arm waddle?
It’s not what people see. Those who are worth having in your life see YOU. Not your body parts. Give them some credit.
Let’s air out the possible subtext taunting you in your head:
If I hide my arms:
I’ll be more attractive. Or less ugly.
I’ll be more acceptable.
I won’t be dismissed by you.
You might like me.
Maybe I won’t be rejected for being older.
They won’t see how much I’ve let myself go.
They won’t realize I’m no longer desirable.
I might be more lovable.
I won’t be so disgusting to look at.
Maybe I can stop being invisible.
People who know me won’t be so embarrassed by my failure to stay young and beautiful.
I can hide my failure to look as good as other women.
If anyone sees my huge arms they will know I’m fat.
They won't know I don't exercise enough.
They' won't know I've lost hope in my body.
THEY WILL SEE MY FAILURE AS A HUMAN... IN MY ARMS.
And a whole lot of other tragically unfounded self-talk (and rampant projection on flesh and bone).
Here’s the rub.
Everyone knows you’re not perfect.
Let me repeat that. You are not perfect and it’s no secret.
Surely people can see your body size whether your arm flesh is exposed or not. So what?
Your arms have nothing to do with WHO YOU REALLY ARE. They don’t relate to your value as a human being. As a mother, sister, daughter, spouse, friend.
The number of inches around you do NOT define your measure of anything, including beauty.
YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN ANY NUMBER.
No matter what, you are lovable.
No matter your size, you are worthy.
No matter your age, you belong.
No matter how your arms look, you are YOU.
The one and only YOU. The one who will be so missed when you are gone.
Imagine these scenarios:
“Grandma don’t hug me with your big flabby arms”
“Oh she’s not invited- have you seen the size of her arms lately!”
“Darling, I love you but we need a divorce because your arms are sagging. ”
On your deathbed your obsession remains, “ My one regret is I didn't have toned arms like Michelle Obama.”
This habit of shame is killing your joy.
It’s eroding your esteem.
Can you see how self-sabotaging it is to volunteer to do this to yourself daily.
By the way, this habitual chronic marathon of self-rejection gets you nowhere. Changes nothing.
These words and thoughts don’t inspire exercise, alternative eating habits, weight training, or anything else that will feel good but probably won’t significantly alter the natural aging process as muscle turns into something less defined.
This attitude sure as hell doesn’t help you feel happier.
Or make you good company. Ever notice how downright boring it is to listen to someone habitually put herself down? Seriously.
Let me ask you about the alternative- Are you glad you even have arms?
The ones you take for granted functionally while at the same time reject aesthetically.
Arms to use, to reach, to embrace, to Live each day with?
That's what I mention to the women who shop at Laila Goddess in my lonely commitment to positively influence a shift away from this heartbreaking mindset.
Who cares what your arms look like? Really, who?
What will happen if someone sees your arms? Really, what?
Please tell me.
There is a long reaching, menacing shadow of cultural belief that you SHOULD BE ASHAMED of your aging, spreading upper arms.
That hiding them is the only acceptable dignified option, covering up is the only way to show self respect.
That somehow life will be better or you will be more tolerable if nobody sees your big fat, no longer youthful, getting softer by the minute, disgraceful arms.
I believe this targeted self-loathing is a kind of internalized misogyny that we as a gender have swallowed whole.
Taken without question as our own woeful, useless, cruelly self defeating cause.
I don’t get it. Sorry.
It’s so fucking sad to see this waste.
Because all this bullshit self-rejection while projecting our insecurity on our poor, simple bystander, always doing what we ask them to arms is literally WASTING the gifts of life and love.
Time to spit out this bitter pill, Ladies.
Make an inner climate change commitment.
Please choose kindness and repeat after me:
I AM NOT DEFINED BY THE SIZE OF MY ARMS.
MY ARMS ARE ONLY ARMS- NO MORE OR LESS.
I’M REALLY GLAD THEY WORK SO WELL.
MY ARMS ARE PART OF MY AMAZING MIRACULOUS FUNCTIONING BODY THAT IS MY ONE AND ONLY VESSEL IN THIS LIFE.
IT IS FAR BETTER TO BE ME, AS IS, RIGHT HERE AND NOW, THAN TO NO LONGER BE LIVING MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE.
Just for today, reflect singularly on how BIG your HEART is.
I raise my middle age sizable arms to toast you on your never too late to begin journey towards self-acceptance.
Written by Laila Ghattas