I see a hint of her from the corner of my eye as I walk down a busy street. There she is watching me through store windows that distort my already misshapen body like funhouse mirrors. When I try to catch her spying on me, she vanishes.
Sitting in the neighborhood cafe, sipping coffee with two creams and a sugar, picking praline pecans from my cinnamon roll, I feel her disapproving stare on my exposed neck. Reaching up to settle my prickling skin, I nervously laugh at my foolishness.
She hangs in my closet, surrounded by drab business suits and indifferent overcoats that camouflage my gender, questioning my decision to wear graceful silk.
Her voice carries over the sea birds as I bask in the sun at the beach. Away from the crowd, discretely dressed with a sarong wrapped around my waist to cover my thunderous thighs, she drowns out my cries of, “I have nothing to hide.”
I’m haunted by childhood ghosts of her self doubts, “I’m not pretty enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m undesirable. You look just like me.”
The circle is unbroken.
There were curvaceous women, heavier by far than either of us, who were wearing skimpy, string bikinis and were literally strutting. Other woman kept covered up, wearing long tops or flowing sarongs. The way they carried themselves led us to believe they were ashamed of their bodies, when they were all beautiful women.
My friend and I are both battling our image demons, sharing stories of how our mothers insecurities were passed to us. I want to strut, and believe in my magnificence. I hope that I’ve broken that circle of shame with my daughter, and that she never questions the beauty of the woman she has become.