I was at a networking meeting recently which was exclusively for women, where a good number of businesses around the table offered to make their customers slimmer, younger, better dressed and overall improve their appearance. As I sat there listening to the business pitches and the widespread nods and assents that went round, I was increasingly aware of the things I didn’t have. I had no great skin, no smooth forehead, no high heels, no flat tummy, no arched eyebrows, no waterproof mascara, no fashionable clothes, no defined jaw, no perky boobs, no narrow waist, no slim arms, no even teeth, no shiny hair, no sleek skirts, no smart shirts, no ruched tops, no bright lipsticks, no brown eyeshadows, not even a fancy perfume named after a footballer.
In fact, it was a miracle I had even been allowed out in public. I hung my head in bitter shame and dragged my wretched self to the car (okay, I embroider the picture a little bit but I need to heighten my reaction so the denouement reads sweeter). My heart heaved heavy as I lifted my hands to turn on the radio. And there was Nina Simone listing, belting out all that she had.
Soon all my inadequacies melted away as I got singing to Nina celebrating that I had my arms, my legs, my boobies, my head and the hair on it, my liver and my life that depended on it. The cloud lifted, the sun broke through, I grabbed the steering wheel with my calloused fingers and pressed down the pedal with my flat shoes and thought, what could be better?* Ecoutez!
*there may have been mild exaggerations for poetic purposes