There is something seriously wrong with us. I thought it was a western world kind of problem, but I’m now convinced the contagion is limited only to the United States. I’ve been traveling in Spain for the past week. Absolutely spectacular country–my new favorite European destination. We’ve gone from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic via the Pyrenees and the land and seascapes are magnificent. I’m in awe. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the beaches, and, more specifically, the women on the beaches. They come in all shapes and sizes, and, almost without exception, they are gloriously, confidently, beautifully comfortable in their own skins. Practically no one wears a one piece, and I’ve yet to see a tankini. All the girls and women sport bikinis, some with tops and some without. I’ve seen bodies of every conceivable age and variety. And no one seems remotely self conscious.
Let’s contrast that with how I felt walking down the beach. I’m fifty years old, and I’ve given birth to twins. I don’t exercise as much as I should, and I don’t eat as well as I could. Despite all of that, I know I don’t look bad, for a middle aged woman with kids who works for a living and doesn’t attend to my appearance like it’s my job. But, having said that, I am painfully aware that my skin isn’t nearly as tight over what muscles I have left, and, as my son told me a number of years ago (and the trend is not going in a good direction), my midsection is “squishy.”  In other words, I won’t be gracing any magazine covers or be mistaken for a trophy wife any time soon. I was completely self conscious walking on a beach in Barcelona until I noticed that no one else was.

It was true. I saw stretch marks, surgical scars, melting wax thighs, sagging boobs and women blithely bending without a thought to the rolled flesh on their bellies looking like stacked sausages. No one cared. It was a revelation. And I wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn’t share that degree of insouciance.

All of which led me to think about finding answers in the current series I’m reading by Cleo Peitsche called the Sharkshifter Paranormal Romance series. The author was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m enjoying the series, which is light and entertaining with incredibly hot sex scenes. I’m in, of course. But as I was searching Amazon to buy the rest of the series after reading the first book, I noticed that the books were described as “BBW Paranormal Erotic Romance”. Curious, I looked up “BBW.”  And learned that we are totally screwed. And not in a good, erotic, paranormal way.

The good news is that I had no idea what “BBW” stood for because that aspect wasn’t highlighted in the novel itself. The bad news was that the publishers, or Amazon, or maybe the author felt the need to warn/entice/inform me that I was about to read a book where the heroine–the object of lust and love in this erotic romance–was a Big Beautiful Woman. It’s as if they were telling me, “Danger–larger women having sex–don’t freak out or get disgusted.”  WTF?!

I wasn’t sure what to think, except that maybe I was being given a hint that I should be happy that women who don’t wear a size two and have full C cups to go with their petite asses can also find happiness in love. I haven’t been a size two in a long time and I’ve never had large breasts, so, good to know, I guess. But how incredibly, unbelievably outrageous that I’d need to know ahead of time that Monroe, the leading lady of the shark shifter books, was “big” (which I really didn’t get from the novel itself; she is described as having “generous curves”–nothing wrong or “big” about that).

So, now I understand a little better why my not-size-two (but definitely normal-size, healthy BMI) body is a cause for self consciousness, especially when a lot of it is on display–even at anonymous beaches in Europe. How can I not feel inadequate because my tummy isn’t taut and my thighs jiggle a bit?  I’m being told–all over the place, in fact–that not being tight and small is an occasion to comment–and again, not  in a good way. Wow. Sucks to be me. Actually, sucks to be all of us.

I’d much rather be one of the beautiful Spanish women, strutting my stuff on the sands near the sea, confident of my allure and easy in my body, no matter what it looks like. I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that without moving to the Mediterranean, but I’ll give it some thought. I may have to stop reading “BBW” paranormal fantasy for a while, and avoid books like Gerry Bartlett’s Glory St. Clair series, where Glory is always going on about her weight (real vampires have curves, dontcha know?) I need to spend more time remembering that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and comfort and confidence in our bodies is the most attractive thing in the world. We are so critical about ourselves and there is absolutely no need. At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself as I strive to feel beautiful regardless of what Madison Avenue, MTV, and publishers of BBW romance novels tell me.

Sign up to receive the latest blog posts and my FREE guide to finding truth in fantasy + manifesting your dreams into reality.

You have Successfully Subscribed!