When I was a kid pretty much everybody was perfect. Well…pretty much everybody, except me. Back then things were measured differently. You needed to have the right hair, the absolute right clothes, the zips on the right side of your trouser legs, the right logo on your sports socks and absolutely the right number of stripes on your sneakers.
It was a given.
To not have these meant, of course, that you are less than perfect. It didn’t matter how smart you were, or how well you swam, or danced, or played the trombone, it was how you looked that counted.
Everybody knew that.
I knew it because I read enough of my Mum’s magazines to know everything: how to deal with unwanted facial hair, what to do if I caught my husband with another woman (useful knowledge when you’re twelve), and Why Cybil Won’t be Wearing InsertNameofDesignerHere This Year at the Oscars.
The pictures in those magazines were helpful, because they showed me who I needed to be.
Blonde, obviously, and with long hair that fell and bounced in slow movements over my shoulders. Red pouty lips, and skin all creamy smooth and buttery.
I didn’t have any of those things. Nor did I have the zips on the right side of my trousers or the right amount of stripes on my sneakers, but I knew that that was just a matter of time. By the time I grew up, I knew, I wasn’t going to look like my Mum, with saggy boobs and a tummy that fell and bounced in slow movements and skin that creased and rainbowed with more colours than a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream.
I. Knew. Better. I knew that one day I’d be perfect too. I knew what to aim for. I knew it was only a matter of time.
Time has passed. Much time.
I took my kids to the skating rink over the weekend, and while they played I sat back quietly and watched all the people careening past in various stages of skateability.
They were beautiful, stunningly beautiful, all of them. I loved them for their beauty.
There were mums there with tummies like mine, that fell and bounced in slow movements, and boobs like mine that fell far south of where any twelve-year old dreams they should be. There were boys with silly hair and far too many pimples and long legs and arms that they were still to grow into. There were little girls whose well-groomed pigtails had loosed their bondage and were dragging behind them like stray cat’s tails, and many more children who looked like they’d just fallen out of a clothes dryer than looked like they’d just stepped out of a TV commercial.
And as they span and careened and limboed and gawked and fell over the rink the smiles on their faces said everything worth knowing.
Perfect is never to be found in magazines.
Perfect is found in being who you truly are, and enjoying it.