Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Casual Observations Of Scantily Clothed People

So we're having a debate/discussion regarding the inevitable 'people-watching' that goes on at the beach.

Here's the thing: there are a LOT of folks here this week (it is, after all, fourth of July week and the public beach is quite crowded, though where we stake our claim in front of Mom and Dad's place is fairly quiet) and most of them are, of course, in various states of undress, commonly known as bathing suits.

We all confess to watching, observing, etc. However, we're divided into two camps: those who say that the watching and looking is an unending, almost uncontrollable measuring stick - a constant mechanization of looking at others and adjusting where we fit in on the scale of acceptable appearances. Are 'they' fatter than us? Then we're good. Oops - next subject obviously more physically fit? Then we slide back down the scale.

The other camp says it's purely objective - observation without categorization or judgement or comparison. Simply looking at all that's around and making note of it.

Me? I confess to the former category - though, thankfully, after a few days here, it's lessened a good bit. I find it difficult not to compare myself to what I see around me. This presents two issues: I know it's wrong and critical and judgemental, and I am frustrated by my shallow observations.

Secondly, I often fail to 'measure up', and that's also frustrating as well. As a woman who feels 28 inside but whose chronological age is a few decades beyond that, I'm forced to deal with appearance issues that are beyond my control and impossible to deny while prancing around in a bathing suit, surrounded by lithesome and elastic-skinned teenagers. Some of whom are my own progeny.

And if I am spending time doing such quick evaluation and judgement, it stands to reason that others are looking at me in the same way. There's something in the Bible about that, right? 'Judge not, lest ye be judged'?

I know these are issues of my own insecurity. And I know that most of us carry such issues inside of us, no matter whether we're in sun or shade. But it doesn't seem like a good way to live; it feels confining, restrictive.

So there you have it. The discussion continues here, and I'm praying that my eyes will see through clothes (or lack thereof), weight, skin tone and drink containers to see only somebody's daughter, somebody's husband, somebody's best friend, all God's children.

Your thoughts?


Jayne said...

I think it's natural that we look at other people and compare ourselves. The important thing is to remember that we are, in so many ways, who our genetics determine we will be. I'll never have those long legs etc. I think this time in my life is one that I can say I am fully comfortable in my own, somewhat fluffy these days, skin.

annie said...

Though I hardly ever look at others and compare myself physically to them, I use other measuring sticks to make myself feel better or worse. I look forward to the day when I am able not to compare.

Jan said...

I love the beach but exactly because of what you have written, I hate going to the beach. I'm trying to grow up about this because it probably isn't going to get better as I get older. I just wish I had ENJOYED being young and slender! In that vein, I am trying to live with a thankful heart for my body. So my thighs are fat even when I exercise over and over. Well thank God I have two healthy and strong legs. (I have a friend who just lost one!) So my chest isn't quite what it once was....well at least I haven't had breast cancer (like my mom and grandmother). So I don't look so hot anymore...I am thankful for my husband who loves me anyway and sees beyond the ravages of years, illness and three babies. So I'm not terribly comfortable with my body - I'm AT THE BEACH!!! Enjoy it and quit obsessing.

This is a conversation I had with myself in Hawaii.

Yes, I know what you mean. The only answer I have is to be thankful for your own blessngs.

Connie K. said...

I could not have said this any better than Jan.