Apparently about 3 million people subscribe to Sports Illustrated.
Including my dad.
Sports Illustrated is great because we can read about NBA drafts, Olympic skiers and golf scores, but I personally always looked forward to the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
I was in elementary school when my dad foolishly left his issue on the coffee table for all to see.
I flipped through those glossy pages, inhaling deeply the samples of cologne interspersed with pictures of glistening, smoldering women. I drank in the photos of tan, hairless skin, humongous breasts that, instead of sagging, sat perkily at attention, and taut stomachs. That’s where I first learned what true beauty was.
And I would have given anything to look like them. To have caramel skin, glowing in the sun. To smirk coyly while lounging in the sand. If I ever tried to lay out in the sand like that, I would a) be burnt to a crisp despite the SPF 50 slathered all over my body, b) suffering from a severe case of sand irritation in my nether-regions or c) a charming mix of UV poisoning and a sandy buttcrack.
I enjoyed dwelling on those magazines growing up. Being able to experience beauty, even simply through the pages of a magazine, was exciting for me. I dreamt about having sun-kissed skin and endless legs. I wanted so badly to be beautiful.
But if they were beautiful, then I most certainly wasn’t.
My legs were never tan, and they had been plagued with cellulite for as long as I could remember. My hair was coarse and curly and IT GREW EVERYWHERE. My stomach was soft and doughy.
If they were beautiful, then I most certainly wasn’t.
Recently, though, I have been very interested in the Body Positivity movement. I’ve learned how to appreciate beauty in all of its forms. I wish that I knew when I was growing up that I didn’t have to be tan to be beautiful. That having thighs that jiggled wasn’t a death sentence.
Now I know. Those women in those magazines WERE beautiful. But I know now that even though I look nothing like them (and I never will), I’m beautiful too.