God Bless Cindy Crawford
Because Georgia thought I was being vain and mean, I want to clarify the sentiment behind this post. I wasn't trying to make fun of Cindy Crawford. I was elated to see the pictures of her on vacation, paddling a surfboard (in another), enjoying the sunshine, celebrating her good health. She's a real woman, with a real woman's body, albeit a beautiful real woman's body. She's fit. She takes care of herself, and she wears (proudly it seems) the scars of her history and the history of her children's birth.
In my dreams, men love their wives inside and out. When the women give birth to their children, the husbands honor that process and respect its sacrifices. They continue to love and long for the woman they married, and embrace the changes that come with motherhood. They don't start ogling other women or scouring the Internet for "Barely Legal."
But my own experiences and those of many women I'm close to, have proven otherwise. I read once that one of the prime times men cheat on their wives is when the wives are pregnant. I couldn't believe that, but then it happened to me. Often, when a woman's body has been "damaged" by pregnancy and childbirth, she's no longer prized. This is clear in the general response to Cindy's photos. But one would hope her own husband would feel quite otherwise.
I felt I was being punished once my children were born and I no longer met my ex's "standard." I became self-conscious and inhibited. I was ashamed of my body; no amount of exercise or cosmetics could fix the stretch marks or c-section scar. Eventually, after my divorce, I learned once again to celebrate my body and all of its wonderful stories. But even that hard-won victory was short-lived.
One of my favorite poets, Adrian Blevins, has a moving poem called "Turning Thirty-Six" about this very subject. Here's an excerpt:
but what could we have known of the births that would take our
bodies from us?
No matter what, the bodies of girls will fatten on semen
and burgeon with milk
while the fathers with zilch in their hands amble off drunk,
broke, bawling, blind.
In their divergent dreams do the febrile men see us as we once
when we were still little birds in the water? Do they carry us in
of their hearts? Do they take us out and throw us down
while we rock like hags in the deadbeat dark?