My mother, Martha B. Tosti, died three weeks ago. Over her 84 year life span she had many looks – all different and all beautiful. When she was young, she was thin and wore her hair in curls. As a young mother, she decided that “fussing” with her hair was too much of a hassle and for over 50 years wore her hair in a short “pixie" style haircut. At times she weighed as little as 100 pounds (or less) and at others she weighed over 200 pounds. She also developed/acquired, like many women, several different disabilities as she aged.
Her body changed throughout these 84 years, yet she remained a woman who could be and was celebrated for who she was. Celebrated as a person rather than a body type that, through the use society’s unrealistic ideals of women’s bodies, might have been hailed at times and excoriated at others. She stood up for her kids. She made sure there was food on the table and nice clothes on everyone’s back. When money was tight, she figured out how to stretch the dimes to make ends meet. She intervened for her kids. And when things were not going in a way she thought they should be, she would – often in quite colorful language – let you know what she thought. She was a feisty woman who had her faults and her strengths. Her body took her through all of this until the very end. And we loved her regardless of her size, shape, clothing, or haircut.
That’s partially what Love Your Body Day is all about. Body image is all about believing in yourself regardless of what you look like. Because each and every woman is – as the 2011 Love Your Body poster says – “a masterpiece.” My mother enjoyed looking “good” but looking “good” was not so much a societal definition as a self-definition. As it should be for everyone.
PS. The Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund will have an exhibit table at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. We will be located at booth number 242 in the Exhibit Hall. If you are coming to this conference, please drop by. We will have copies of the current and many of the past Love Your Body Day Campaign posters at the table.
- Joanne Tosti-Vasey, President, Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund