We all have one. A body, that is. I mean, we would not be US without it. Our body is our package, something to hold all this blood and guts and bones. A container, if you will. Each part of it has a function, whether we use it at present or not. Some of these functions go way, way back. Like body hair, for example. We used to be covered in it. Covered like monkey or gorilla covered. Like our whole bodies covered in hair. We were also naked. Naked, hairy little humans. That was us! We lived outside at all times, we were smaller with very short lives. We reproduced as per our natural drives, we fought each other for territory and food. We also worked in harmony to take down a large beast for meat, helped raise each other’s young. We lived in a society with rules and expectations. Even then.
Fast forward to present day bodies. Wow, what a difference! Our society creates ideals, depending on what decade or era or country or culture we are in. Light or dark skin, chunky backsides or 6-pack abs, tall or short, what we deem as desirable depends. Me? Well, I live in the good old USA during the present day. Back when I was a kid and it was the 60’s and 70’s, counter culture was all the rage. Burn your bra, stop shaving your body hair, thumb your nose to convention. Though these acts seemed to go against the grain of the time, they were still setting a target for what we should look like and the characteristics we would need to be part of a certain group. Grow your hair long? Oh, you are a hippie. Wear your dresses below your knee? Oh, you must be a conservative housewife. What was called counter-culture was actually it’s own culture with it’s own expectations and rules. Shh, don’t tell the old hippies that.
Now, here I am, nearly 55 years old. I have seen many, many changes to our culture, our society and the norms by which our bodies are governed. Listen up, fellas, your female counterparts literally have laws that regulate what we can and cannot do with our OWN bodies. I doubt very much you can say the same. We can save that for another rant. This rant is about the actual body. At this writing, I am at a hot springs campground. That means there is a hot springs resort nearby. Folks who stay there get to have all access to the hot pools and the rest of us can get in by paying a nominal fee. This place is in a National Park. That means there are folks literally from all over the world here. Mind you, they may be from somewhere nearby, but their language and clothes are still from elsewhere. This small little place is a melting pot, or sorts. It’s own little “We are the World” right here.
I have been to the hot pools three times so far. I have heard folks speaking US English, Canadian English, what probably was Hindi, something from the Middle East, something from Eastern Europe, some derivative of Spanish but it was not Spanish, but close. I have also seen different family units. There is me, alone, there are same sex couples and extended families. There are groups of siblings, friends, newly married folks, and kids of various ages. Again, lots of diversity happening.
However, the point of this rant is about the actual bodies. Our bag of bones and such that we use to move around this world. The types of bodies are just as varied and diverse as the people who use them. But, what disturbs me the most here, are the judgements and expectations placed on our bone bags. Some folks are so proud of theirs, they barely cover them. Some are so ashamed, they leave little skin showing. Some are not comfortable in theirs, and tug and yank at their coverings. I mean, if you are going to wear some dental floss with fabric samples as your swim suit, for God’s sake stop pulling at it! It will not get any bigger. Just own it, wear it proud and loud or go change.
Moving on… while there is little to do at the hot pools except soak, there is copious amounts of people watching. Sure, you can stare at the fog or the trees or perhaps that bald eagle that just flew by. But, that, too, gets old. It is much more fun to look at all the ways our bags of bones are configured. All the places we do, and perhaps do not, have remains of that necessary body hair. Where we have had injuries or where we decorate ourselves. Where we wrinkle and spill over our waistband, where we let it all hang out, or tuck it all away. Each new person that enters the pool area is looked at by someone. Most often, several of us. Yes, us. I admit it, I look. I am always looking, as I have nothing else to do with just me in the pool for at least an hour. I look and I wonder and sometimes, though I know better, I judge. I have no room, no room at all to critique anyone. I have all the usual flaws, and then some. I also find it fascinating to watch those who watch the bodies. I see whose stare lingers and where, whose face shows a reaction, or who could care less. I watch the watchers, which is nearly as much fun as being a watcher.
I know folks watch me. Mostly, I think, it is because of the tattoos. Well, that and someone asking themselves why I am wearing THAT swim suit. Yeah, it is smaller than I would have liked, but at the time, it was my only option and from that point, I decided to just fuck it and wear it like I should, like I can, and like I was deserving. This environment is not as competitive as, oh, let’s say a California beach front during spring break. These folks are really not looking for a hook-up, trolling for a future date, or otherwise prancing endlessly until they get noticed. There is always one or two, but here, it just makes no sense. Sadly, those prancing efforts are wasted. We mostly just want to soak in the awesome hot water.
So, for the most part, we just enjoy the hot water, the softness of our skin, the various temperatures in the pools. No need to impress anyone this far out in the woods. We look, we watch, we think. What makes a desirable body? Who has one? Who does not? What lengths do we go to in our quest to achieve that desirability? These things I ponder while I soak in the spring water. Everybody has a body. Every body is deserving, is worthy, and needs positive attention. I have to remember that about myself, and about those who I watch. Our body houses our vitals, our ability to live, our essentials. Let’s try to treat it with the care and love it, and us, deserve. Shall we?
Cheers to Every Body!