Hello, Beauty Full You! I truly hope you enjoy this winsome blog by my friend, Leslie Leyland Fields, celebrating her new book, The Wonder Years (the years from 40 on)! For our male readers, we don't regularly address intimate apparel - but you are welcome to read on, or not! Up to you.
My First Padded Bra
By Leslie Leyland Fields
On my 50th birthday, I bought my first padded bra. It wasn't premeditated. I was traveling and ended up in a department store, slinking undercover through the lingerie section. Then - brainflash - I could repay my husband with a sexy little something for keeping the home front running during the week I was away. Usually it was the foreign import section for me, but the padded bras beckoned - objects of both fascination and repulsion. I had never worn one. They looked like foamy dishes, and came in an astounding range, from little tea cups to Italian restaurant-size bowls. And how is that the sizing is the same as batteries? But no size was my size. (Even batteries come in AAA!) Then on a little end rack, I found it. A flirty, spongy little number that looked small enough to fit. And - it was leopard-spotted.
I've worn sports bras most of my life. I've felt their power all these years. No matter what I was wearing on the outside, underneath I felt sporty, ready to break into a jog or an aerobic routine at any moment. And often I did. My bra inspired me.
This bra made me feel a little wild. I wore it nearly every day. I was not making any kind of statement. I wasn't trying to be noticed. If anyone thought to comment on my new look, they might say, "There's a middle-aged woman in a polka-dot blouse," instead of, "There's a middle-aged woman without any breasts." I discovered, after all these year of sports bra, that I actually look better in my clothes with breasts, despite their foamy source.
I'm 60 now, and I still wear the bra when I feel like it. I've come to some realizations lately, inspired by the new decade I'm wearing. I'm trying to feel good about myself and my increasingly visible changes, but feeling good isn't enough. I read an article in a semi-religious digest last month that instructed women to start their day by standing in front of the mirror, wrapping their arms around themselves, and reciting "I love you! You're so beautiful!" as many times as they needed, an unabashed hail-to-the-self.
Surely there's more to feeling good about ourselves than feeling good about ourselves. I think there is. I see it on the faces of a few women I know in their seventies and eighties, women with wide waists, sagging chests and creased, smiling faces, faces brightly turned to others. These are women who feel good about themselves, but clearly they feel even better about others.
My vanity still props me against the mirror every morning massaging high-promise creams into the latest creases and lines. I'm always trying to lose ten pounds. I wear shocking red lipstick, splurge occasionally on a froufrou coat, fret about my varicose veins. I still want to look and feel good. But more than that - and more than ever - I want to be good. I want to be the kind of person who sees beyond herself to others around her. The kind who loves her neighbor like herself, who does for others what she would like others to do for her, two golden rules that never show their age. When I see others doing this, it's so beautiful, it takes my breath away.
Someday I may quit the padded bra. Maybe then, If anyone should notice me leaning toward others in laughter, in kindness, in service, maybe they'll say, "Look at that happy old woman. Isn't she beautiful?
Leslie Leyland Fields feels a great kinship with the first disciples: she lives in Kodiak Alaska where she commercial salmon fishes with her family. Her most recent book is a compilation of 40 voices over 40, The Wonder Years. She has written a number of other books, including Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt and the Seas, which won Christianity Today's Book of the Year in Christian Living. She travels and speaks nationally and internationally, and each fall she hosts the Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop on her Alaskan island with such writers as Philip Yancey and Ann Voskamp. Find her online at www.leslieleylandfields.com.