In the morning, every morning, when my husband Michael first awakes, he rolls over and drapes his long, lean arm across my body. He nestles his chin into the back of my shoulder; his lips, dry from morning, press against my ear. And with pebbles of sleep in his gravely voice, he sings.
It's more of a chant, really. He isn't the best singer in the world.
But the words never change.
I wish I could give the music to you on this page. But the words will have to be enough.
Imagine me, half sleeping. And imagine him, his chant, a half-song.
"You are the prettiest wife in the world," he sings, and the hairs along my neck and in my cochlea are all tall and listening.
I am wearing cropped yoga pants with a large, dog tooth-shaped hole in the back and a ribbed white tank top, no bra.
I had a shower two nights ago. I think.
My hair is knotted and matted against the pillowcase, covering the drool that had run down my (two) chin(s) in my sleep.
Needless to say, I am not the prettiest wife in the world.
Odds are, I am not even in the Top 100. In fact, if there was a competition to be held, a Who Is The Prettiest Wife in the World pageant, they would probably disqualify me based on the length of my leg hair alone.
But here's the thing. He really believes I am that wife. He really believes I am the prettiest.
I had four babies before I met him. I have stretch marks in places I didn't think were supposed to stretch, behind my knees and above my ribs. I have a torso that is too long and legs that are so short that I can't rest my feet on the ground at my desk. They just dangle there, like I'm some odd, under-grown character on The Big Comfy Couch. I wear a size 12 jeans. I own lots of Spanx. When I run (which I only do if I am being chased or need to get to Everything's $1 Day at the Salvation Army), my vague approximation of a bosom flops up dangerously, like oranges in tube socks, wielding themselves menacingly up near my head with every step. It's some crazy produce, let me tell you. And he's seen that shit. Like, in the flesh.
He's seen it and he THINKS I'M THE PRETTIEST WIFE IN THE WORLD.
There were a couple of logical explanations that I needed to explore. First, after putting him through several at-home eye tests with every app I could locate on my iPhone, I can safely say don't think he has difficulties with his vision. So the explanation of, "he isn't really seeing me" is out.
Second, I can safely rule out "he hasn't ever seen anyone else naked" since he was A) married before me and B) may or may not own or once upon a time has seen a copy of Playboy magazine -- bought and read purely for the "quality writing" and "informative stories," of course.
So how is it that he sees me as so amazingly beautiful and when I see myself, all I see is... destruction?
That, I blame on you.
Okay, not you exactly, but the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you.
And your 7th grade teacher.
And the salesperson at Victoria Secret who told me, a while ago, that they didn't sell their bras in my size in the store.
They are to blame. They are to blame because they represent a large part of society that can't see anything but size zero, or age 20 or younger or pre-baby or perfectly perfect as beautiful.
I can't argue that those things aren't beautiful.
I'm just arguing that pregnant, size 12, short, size 6, size 16, tall, thin, older, younger, in-between -- well, that is beautiful too.
That is beautiful, too.
Your husband thinks so. He tells you so.
But you don't listen, do you?
Think hard about this. While you are climbing into the shower naked, wishing for a flatter belly, your husband is just trying to catch a view of your rack. Isn't he? You know he is.
If you turned around and said, "Hey buddy, let's go for this, right here, right now," do you really think he would say, "Sure, but let's turn out the lights first so I don't have to see your stretch marks"? Really?
Here's the thing: While wives think they would be prettier/sexier/hotter if they just had a tummy tuck or lost 10 pounds, husbands think they are pretty damn hot the way they are.
I've asked around. It's pretty unanimous.
But really, all the research that I need is nestled up under my comforter every morning. And that is enough for me.
Ask yourself only this:
Who is telling you that your body isn't the ideal?
Only people who don't really matter. Only people you don't know. Only that same voice in your ear that is telling you you 're not a good enough mom or worthy of a raise or shouldn't go back to school or wear that dress. Are they invested in you? Are they worth believing?
Who is telling me, telling you that your body is exactly right?
Only the man who lays down to sleep with you every night. Only the one person who sees you naked every day and would throw down whatever he is doing to meet you ANYWHERE, ANYTIME for a quickie.
Only that voice, in the morning telling me that I am built just right.
That voice that whispers in my ear, You are the prettiest wife in the world while I close my eyes tight and let him try to help me believe.
No makeup, no filter. Just me. Am I The Prettiest Wife in the World? My husband thinks I am. And that's good enough for me.