The Alpha Blonde


This article was written on 12 Aug 2013, and is filled under body image.

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Alpha Grand Laveuse


Girls!  We’re being duped! So it’s no big newsflash anymore that society has given us some whacked out standards to live up to.  Fat shaming has become a hot topic and there’s been a widespread demand for more body positive imagery in advertising.  But even with all of the positives and the sense that a major revolution might finally take place it still doesn’t erase years of fatty conditioning.  I can say out loud how beautiful all bodies are and be simultaneously wondering if my armpits are bulging out the side of my bra.  And how could I not?  Every grocery aisle is inundated with images of beautiful celebs with yellow all-caps headlines sneering; “KIM LAMENTS: EVEN MY ARMPITS ARE FAT!”


Enter my new best friend.  La Grand Laveuse, or Renoir’s Washer Woman.  She lives in a handful of places, one of which is a 4 minute walk from my office on the Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno.   She’s hidden from sight, something unexpected for a piece so important, between two hedges and her backdrop is the ever romantic Payless Shoe Source sign.  She looks nothing like the person who, in my mind’s eye, I’ve been trying to become.  She’s not the image that makes me obsessively count calories or cry in the morning while looking for a dress that will make me look like a professional, not a frump.  I’ve never once modeled my standards for myself on her build, and this strikes me as ironic- I think she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.  I am far more likely to look at other bodies, larger and smaller than myself, and think “what is a sensuous, beautiful and exquisite being” before I would ever think to look at myself that way.


When I see her up close and I admire the way she is round I know she and I look a lot alike.  Aside from the laundry.  I avoid doing anything like that and that’s all she ever does.  But look at her hips and her stomach.  They regret nothing, no child born and no delicacy tasted. And they beg to be touched, to be loved.  Even her arms are like mine, and they’re strong, utilitarian. Not flabby and without definition like you’d hear my inner monologue say about myself.  Her thighs are full and sensual.  And oh, her breasts. I even asked Chuck what he thought and he totally agrees that we’re just alike.  It’s uncanny- see:

It’s no wonder he can’t keep his paws off of me!  But seriously, all silliness aside, The Washer Woman is helping me come to terms with my womanbody and all of the supple roundness that that entails. It makes me just uncomfortable enough to recognize the dichotomy between thinking she is perfect and wishing I had my body from X years ago.  La Grand Laveuse is challenging me daily to appreciate the form I have, and the form I’ll grow to have as I age.  To be comfortable in it, to carry on and do the things I need to do without getting all wrapped up with whether or not it “looks right” according to some standard I set for myself back when I thought that mom-jeans were embarrassing. She is making me acknowledge my brainwashing and wringing it out of me.


Am I ever gonna stop hating on myself and feeling guilty after enjoying treats?  More than likely not.  That’s how I’m wired after years and years of fighting feeling fat.  Luckily I have a bronze reminder to be less harsh and critical of myself and I can invoke her any time I need her.

You know, same old story; I’ve been hanging out with one of my favorite pieces of art a lot lately and all I got was a renewed self esteem and healthier body image.



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