Back in my early forties a friend and I were at a conference at a hotel in Palm Springs. After the day’s session we went poolside for drinks. Neither Pat nor I had brought a bathing suit, lest someone get a glimpse of the cellulite that was beginning to take over our middle-aged thighs.
As we sat, miserably comparing our bodies to those of a group of twentysomethings sunning at the other end of the pool, half a dozen very large, “old” women came in, pulled off their plus size cover-ups and jumped in. Disregarding saggy goose flesh and varicose veins they swam, laughed and talked. Pat muttered that she’d never be crazy enough to bare herself like that when she got to be their age. But seeing those women made me wonder who the crazy ones were, the women in the pool having a grand time or Pat and me with our body issues?
We could pull any number of insights from that afternoon, not the least, ironically, is that I would gladly trade my current body with what I had back then. But what strikes me most is what I learned that day about how limiting a negative body image can be. I don’t know what those women thought about how they looked, but what I do know is that they didn’t let it stand in their way of having a good time.
I was reminded of that incident last week when a group of senior folks I was with in Israel splashed away the afternoon in the Dead Sea. We slapped mud on each other. We floated. What we didn’t do was carp about how we looked.