The Pursuit to Obtain the Ideal Body

I was revisiting some blog entries from a few years back while preparing for an upcoming post, and I came across this entry I wrote in September of 2008, about six months prior to the development of the fetal vampire now known as Maya.  It’s a great reminder to accept myself just as I am, right now…  and take more trips to Flagstaff and Sedona…


Since I can remember, images of flawless, svelte bodies have bounced into my eyes from various forms of mass media, physique ideals spouted forth from the mouth of my childhood dance instructor, and the guttural, persistent barks of my inner body Nazi have polluted my mind.  Throughout the years, these termites have united in a quest to devour a healthy self-esteem and replace it with a tapestry of airbrushed body parts and unrealistic Barbie doll proportions– a work of “art” I could never stitch together, thus I always felt inadequate. 

It’s not as if I possess only an angstrom of self-respect; I’m fairly self-confident, but I confess that I do occasionally fall prey to the bloated advertising images in our media machine.  They have a way of sparking doubt that you are wonderful just as you are.  I can eliminate my crow’s feet and thinker’s lines with toxic injections, bottled pulps of sandpaper, and plump creams.  Diminish the cellulite shaking my thighs with goopy turquoise gel.  Brighten my dingy smile with bleaching strips, add shine to my brunette locks with “specially formulated” shampoos and conditioners, and even try to drop those final pounds with a smorgasbord of diet pills, shakes, and snack bars.

Apparently, with the proper tools, I can become damn near “ideal.”  Then, whose “ideal” will I be?

On a whim, I loaded my vehicle, drove a few hundred miles, and set up a sweet camp right in the middle of what appeared to be a mountain-man convention in the beautiful Flagstaff (my fav camping spot).  With the cheeky swing of my mallet, I pitched my tent and became a darling single woman floating in a sea of testosterone.  Glory be.  There was always someone stopping by to see if I needed any “help.”  I had a cooler full of beer and the best snacks in our tent village.  Moths to a flame, I tell you.  A fantastic cedar/vanilla-smelling candle crackled alongside the campfire.  I laughed at horrible man jokes (because, you know… guys), held my own in conversations about Monty Python, and, thanks to lectures at Lowell Observatory, could point out locations on the moon where Apollo missions landed.

Worthless, geeky knowledge, I know.  Is that exactly “ideal?” 

I trekked miles of dirt and stone trails up into the mountains and spied on the city as it sprang into life. 


I traversed a stream that bubbled through Oak Creek Canyon and spied on a hungry bee.

West Fork Oak Creek


I hiked a spotty trail that sliced vertical switchbacks through the chaparral and I tangled with manzanita brush and scrub oak.  I was slightly bloodied and bruised near the end, but the sweeping views of the Mogollon Rim and San Francisco peaks were well worth the effort.

View from Thomas Point Trl

Thomas point 2

Mogollon Rim

In Sedona, I scrambled up the sides of coral and brick rock formations and climbed up onto jutting ledges.  I watched below as a twosome attempted the approach, the man boosting and pulling the woman up as he could.  The final twenty-foot climb to my perch was apparently a tad too strenuous.  He stared up at me with envious eyes as I smiled sweetly back down at him and told him the view was fantastic.  He replied with a nod and a smirk.

trail to bell rock
My destination off in the distance: Bell Rock.
along the way
along the way… one of my favorite photos

view from bell rock

The view from Bell Rock

Is this exactly “ideal?”

When I love something, I pour my energy into it.  I don’t lightly glisten or glow.  I get hot and sweaty and I laugh and lose myself.  I take the moment for all it’s worth and play hard- and this includes lively participation in the realm of… ahem, my boudoir.  I want the outcome of the game to be a tangle of legs and arms and wicked medusa-like hair.  The idea that a man might be reluctant to play for fear of breaking me… tsk, tsk.  That alone is worth keeping a tad of padding.  Is that “ideal?”

At the end of the day, after the media and inner whispers plunge into my well of body issues, I need to remind myself I am already my own ideal.  If I had arms and legs of twigs, I couldn’t effectively scale those mountains or run the trails.  If I constantly watched my weight, I couldn’t devour pizza and toss back a couple of cold beers with friends or a group of hot mountain men.  If I felt delicate and breakable or afraid to mess my hair, I couldn’t cut loose and gleefully romp around as I choose.

The pursuit to obtain the “ideal body” can’t exist for me anymore.  I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to grow and improve my body and mind, but striving to become what television, magazines, and even my inner whispers portray as “ideal” is not for me.  I’m terribly, but happily, flawed.

Whether geeked out


Struck out


Or all decked out


My ideal… well, I’ve tucked it neatly into my imperfections.


22 thoughts on “The Pursuit to Obtain the Ideal Body

  1. “Apparently, with the proper tools, I can become damn near “ideal.” Then, whose “ideal” will I be?”

    This is my favourite line.

    As girls, we are constantly struggling with self-esteem issues, especially with regards to our body. Thanks for showing that we can be perfectly ourselves and perfectly content with that. (:


    1. It is a constant struggle, isn’t it? I worry about how difficult it will be for my daughter as she grows up. I’m trying to watch what I say and do regarding my body because it will rub off on her, you know?


      1. “My ideal… well, I’ve tucked it neatly into my imperfections” “I’m trying to watch what I say and do regarding my body because it will rub off on her, you know?”

        I’m not sure we are on the same page????
        Maybe you should use Pearlynnw’s line- “Then, whose “ideal” will I be?” When you have, or find that lucky person, stay….. I must say they will be lucky. Be confident you have no “imperfections” to me. Believe this and your daughter will have an awesome role model!!!


      2. Thank you! And I should take my own advice. It’s a challenge to be accepting of yourself, just as you are. Although, I will admit that it becomes easier as we get older and become more comfortable in our own skin.


      3. Not a problem. I really enjoyed reading your blog post, when do you plan to write again? I find you to be very inspiring! I am trying to write some, I guess to try to heal from the many of problems I’m suffering from but its difficult to put things into words.


      4. Even though it is often challenging to find the words to fit your feelings (especially when you are trying to keep it real and not have it turn into a bitchfest about your ex), it is therapeutic to get it out of your system. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve also had a difficult time. The blogging community I’ve fallen into is filled with wonderful, supportive people. I honestly feel like they’ve become my second family.

        Tonight is make-an-airplane-from-a-cardboard-box night with my daughter. 🙂 This should be interesting…


      5. I’ve been working on a post that I have titled “Lost in a depth of Depression”. Hopefully I will have it finished before morning, and maybe you can take time to read? Its been a struggle but after reading some of your posts it has helped me. I really need to be part of a community that is very supportive and wonderful cause I have a VERY low self esteem and do need to find some therapeutic activities. Since April 2006 I feel like I’ve been a hermit, lost in a dept of depression.
        Let me know how that airplane turns out, it would be nice to see some pictures if you can? Do you ever use facebook? Maybe you can add me and we can become friends on there if you use it, that is? I believe I have a link on my page to mine, but if not you can use this link or copy and paste in your browser to my page….


      6. I will gladly read it if you’d like, but (as it was recently said to me) if you write from the heart, it will be just as it should be. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling for so long. I know how depression can cripple your life and it’s good that you’re trying to find a healthy way to pull out of it. As with everything, it’s one day at a time, right?


      7. Sorry that it has taken me so long to put into words but I finally posted that. It was truly from the heart, about things I am, and have been going through.


  2. Rohan 7 Things

    Brilliant post Michelle! Agree with every word, you have such a nice way of writing, and I loved your photos 🙂

    There are more than enough admirers of just about every shape and size to be worried about “ideals”. It’s important to become our own admirer!

    Thanks for sharing, I wanted to let you know that I’ve chosen your “Self Love” post for my post of the week:

    Keep well Michelle, have a great weekend!



    1. You are absolutely right; we need to become our own admirer. Also, admiration comes from unexpected people: my three year-old was patting my (muscular) leg and she said, “Oh, mommy. I like your big legs. So nice!” Cracked me up.

      I am honored that you chose my “Self Love” post for your post of the week. Thank you for the WP nod!

      You have a great weekend as well, Rohan.



  3. I believe our imperfections are what makes us uniquely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your inner & outer beauty. The pictures are divine… and so are you! ☼
    Enjoy your perfect body. 😀


  4. Pingback: Leave it to ♥ Rio ♥ | 1EarthUnited

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