|In Lesotho, women spend their energy worrying|
about whether their body can do things, not if
it compares to a supermodel on TV.
The person delivering the complement smiles and is oblivious to my inability to accept their compliment. Meanwhile, my fake smiles, fake laughter, and forced thank you work their way out as I negatively internalize their complement and proceed to spend the next two days trying to remind myself that they are celebrating my looks and my body, not demeaning them.
The longer I am away from American standards, culture, and media, the more accepting I find myself being of other people's bodies. I look around me and see women of many sizes and shapes. Instead of seeing wrinkles, big booties, or small boobies, I see beauty. I marvel at the differences between the people I encounter and the uniqueness of them all. I celebrate it.
I am nervous to return to an America that is incapable of doing the same. More than two years away from the stinging judgement of American culture, it still invades my brain with its negativity and self-doubt. I desperately want to keep my ability to celebrate others' diverse beauty. I desperately want to continue learning to accept compliments on my shape, size, and self without tearing myself down. I am just not convinced that is possible in the United States.
Meanwhile, I joyfully continue to live in a culture where a villager stops me to voice concern that I'm unhappy as he can tell I have lost weight.