Saturday, July 04, 2009

My Body Is Jewish

My culture and faith has profoundly impacted my written work. I used to be the Editor of the Judaism site for until time constraints forced me to stop. My work remained on the site for a while but has since vanished from the web. I will be posting some of the more resonant articles I wrote here, to keep them real and alive.

Body image is a concern for all women. Jewish women have particular gripes and issues, due to our ethnic makeup and often stereotyped features. Here is a meditation that was inspired by my own experiences as a Jewish woman after many years of looking in the mirror.

My Body Is Jewish

I am a Jewish woman. My soul, spirit, and mind is Jewish.

My body is Jewish.

I have Jewish hair. It is wavy, dark, and perpetually frizzed. Only a bottle of extra-hold mousse stands in the way of it looking like rejected merchandise created at a Brillo factory. I have no desire to change it. I have long since given up.

I have Jewish lips. Full, red, often chapped -- likely due to my own mistreatment. I don't need lipstick; for me, it's built-in.

I have Jewish hips. Even when I was at my "ideal" weight for my height I had to buy clothes in the plus-sized section, or else I simply could not pull them up or dare to close the. (My mother always said I was too skinny as a child, but that's what a Jewish mother always says even if you develop the Jewish equivalent of a Buddha belly. A Judah belly?) This I wish I could change, but resistance seems futile.

I have Jewish eyes. Dark and piercing, I get accused of staring and winking much to my oblivion. If I gaze in your direction, you will remember.

I have Jewish thighs. Like my hips, no amount of Pilates, chocolate deprivation, and running makes a dent.

I have a Jewish nose. That quintessential Jewish feature. Here is where it is said I am lucky; genetically pardoned. Only slightly too wide, it still could never pass for the turned-up buttons in my wishful thinking.

As I dressed in the darkness of a Shabbat morning, I stood nude in the bathroom. My profile facing the mirror, I turned to see myself. My breasts covered by my arms, I saw the curves of my waist leading around to the fullness of my buttocks. Silhouetted by the glow of early morning, I gazed in disbelief at the almost statuesque-like quality of my stance. More than substance, there was truth -- the truth of who I am.

My body is Jewish.

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