Kim being who she really is – after spending the day at her lake house writing, she took a selfie – sporting her new bangs, with no make-up, being her bea-You-tiful self.
As I sat with my niece this week (I happen to be lucky enough to have a niece who is a stylist), I said let’s do bangs – really my choice was bangs or Botox, to hide the wrinkles that seem to be appearing on a weekly basis on my forehead. So as not to be disingenuous, I have done Botox before. And it did make me feel great at the time, but then the wrinkles eventually came back. So now, I accept them, and I realize that every wrinkle is a part of my journey.
As a breast cancer survivor, like Humpty Dumpty, I’ve been pasted back together again – literally. Twelve years ago, I had my mastectomy with reconstruction and received the added bonus of a tummy tuck out of the deal (TRAM flap reconstruction – i.e. taking my mommy fat from my stomach and tunneling it up to build me my new breasts).
Over the past 12 years, I’ve learned to accept the new me scars and all. I mourned losing my breast early on and wondered if I would feel like a complete woman, but the new breast in its place became a part of me (And for those wondering, I never did go back and get my areola tattoo – I mean, who really needs an areola anyway? Maybe a pink ribbon tattoo someday – who knows?).
I never wanted to be judged on my boobs or my body and as my mom and others always said, beauty truly does come from within. I can say over the years, talking to other breast cancer survivors and sharing my story (and yes, even at times, going into the restroom and pulling up my top so that they can see what their breasts would look like after surgery), I have realized that we are so much more than our breasts and our outward appearance. It’s what one fellow survivor called our “inner cleavage,” and we all have it. It’s the confidence that comes when my own outer beauty early on didn’t seem so beautiful anymore because of my scars. It’s that inner spirit, that inner cleavage, that was daring me to keep living. It’s the beauty that exits when everything else is stripped away.
I still have my battle scars, but with each year, they are fading. I also currently have a complete food group going on including a mini muffin top that refuses to go away, cottage cheese that seems to be permanent and those pesky stretch marks from having Brandon, but I love who I am and accept that. I am much more than my boobs, my wrinkles, my scars and my buffet of a body. You are much more than your boobs or your wrinkles, and I would challenge each of you to find your own inner cleavage. The fact is that I will never look like I did in my 20s (I looked pretty darn good back then)! This doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself and do what I want and need to in order to feel good about myself. But it also means that I need to stop being so hard on myself , accepting me for who I am and loving all of me. Only then am I truly free to love others.
And don’t get me wrong. I love to look good (I mean we all have our own maintenance issues – hair, nails, pedis, teeth whitening, microderms, massages and of course for me, a killer pair of shoes), but first and foremost for myself, not for others. And other women might choose Botox or a boob job, and we should not judge as that’s their own choice to make them feel better. If we all take a step back and remind ourselves of this and try to instill this self-confidence in our nieces, daughters, granddaughters and friends, that would be a great lesson. If we can just accept ourselves and then each other for who we are and do what each of us as individuals needs to do in order to feel good about ourselves.
We are not perfect physically and no matter how many hours I go to the gym, I believe at this point in my life, I will always have a few food groups which comprise my body. They are all a part of me. I’m not ashamed. I’m not perfect. I am me with my buffet of a body, my wrinkles and yes, my scars.
I do still catch myself at times being insecure with my scars or my muffin top or my sun spots, and that’s something that I will continue to work on. And on days when I have those thoughts, I am quickly brought back to reality. I am 43 years young, alive and here. So for now, I will stick with the bangs and continue to love me for who I am. I would challenge each of you to love the real you, stop being so hard on you and realize that you are Be-YOU-tiful, inside and out.