I am thankful for the wisdom of women who write beautifully and work to lift others. One such woman is the author, Heather Ferrell. Earlier this year she shared on her Facebook page, Women in the Scriptures, a picture of a sculpture of what many Egyptologists believe to be a pharaoh and his mother. She pointed out that this sculpture was different from most other Egyptian art in that the portrayal of the pharaoh’s mother was not of a “perfect form,” stylized to be “perfectly slim and flawless.” After pointing this out, Heather asked, “Why?” Then she answered:
Because, as one Egyptologist noted, the sagging breasts and flabby stomach of this woman send one clear message– SHE IS A MOTHER.
Her body is not perfect and flawless. It has obviously been stretched and changed; she has reordered and rearranged herself in order to create life.
Her body has been the vehicle through which the Pharaoh– a divine son– has been born. And it is through her body, that the divine power of kingship and authority was transmitted from her husband to her son.
She is the reason the Pharaoh exists, and the reason that he has divine power.
She stands the same height as the Pharaoh, an indication of equality. And her arms wrap around him, as if she is guiding and leading him.
She is a MOTHER.
A title, honor, and power that shows on her body, and which she wears proudly.
This image is her KA— her most true and perfect form.
It reflects who she really is, and what she has done.
We live in a world that is full of many voices, some louder than others. Art in ancient Egypt was part of the culture of just a small section of the world, but today we are exposed to and bombarded by opinions, accusations, standards, beliefs, judgments, and ideas from influencers, experts of all levels, and random people on the internet from all around the globe. There are fitness movements, diet fads, the fashion industry, and various body positivity messages that have our minds going back and forth on what our bodies should look like and what we should do to be “right.” Women’s bodies have long been targeted for what they look like, completely disregarding what they do.
In the example of the pharaoh’s mother, and biological mothers around the world, her body was “stretched and changed … reordered and rearranged … to create life.” Isn’t that incredible?! The female body is designed to stretch and change and rearrange itself in order to bring another life into being! Whether or not a woman chooses to or is able to have children, this potential that each woman is born with is an incredible gift to the human family. As I explained to my own daughter who is at an age where the thought of carrying and giving birth is daunting and unimaginable, having children, feeling them inside myself and giving birth to them, was the most amazing thing I have ever done. It was also the hardest thing I have ever done, but isn’t that the way it is with things in life?
Beyond bearing children, the female body is incredible in many other ways. We carry the load of doing most of the care work of the world, whether paid or unpaid. It is usually the mothers, grandmothers, and aunties the world over, along with mostly female nannies, daycare workers, nurses and nursing assistants, and teachers providing life sustaining and life fulfilling care for the young, the old, and the infirm.
Women are also capable of working in and being successful outside of care work. We have brilliant and brave women to thank for many things that make life so much better for everyone, from dishwashers and disposable diapers to wireless transmission technology, Kevlar, computer software, and laser cataract surgery.
Overcoming social limitations and faulty “science” to be able to participate in and excel at sports, women have accomplished much in that area as well, mostly within the last 50 years. After barring women from participation because it was believed that no woman could run 26 miles, in 1972 the Boston Marathon established an official women’s race. This year, the first-place woman in the Boston Marathon was 36th overall. The next five women were 40th, 41st, 42nd, 44th, and 56th. These women from around the world have pushed their bodies to be able to accomplish something women for generations were denied the opportunity to do.
I am thankful every day for the things that I am able to do because of my body. The human experience is amazing and wonderful. My body will never look the way it did before I had children, but my mind and heart won’t be the same either. My body is changed because my whole soul is. I try to eat well, and I exercise regularly to try to take care of myself. My husband and I enjoy working out together, and it is always interesting when we compare the information recorded by our heart rate monitors. Though we lift different amounts of weights, the moves we are doing are the same, usually at the same time; but my heart rate may be higher than his on one thing, then lower than his on another. The time it takes for our heart rates to drop is also usually different. Men and women are simply different. When we’re not comparing or competing, the differences between the sexes are generally complementary.
My invitation for all women everywhere is to love your body. Treat it well. Be thankful for it and all that you are able to do, accomplish, and how you are able to serve because of your unique gifts and talents. You are incredible. And whether you are a mother by giving birth, or a mother by love and sacrifice and care for the rising generation, wear your motherhood with joy and confidence.