Courtney Cox, New Hampshire  Portrait by Lori Pedrick

Courtney Cox, New Hampshire
Portrait by Lori Pedrick

On Beauty

I am a solid mass of a woman. Fluffy is not an adjective of my form. I am 5 feet 7 inches and always weigh somewhere in the 170s. I love the way my body serves me each and every day without fail. I am grateful for its freakish strength, agility, energy, and health. I wake up practically hopping to get to work. I love being on the move and am rarely not engaged in some sort of physical labor. Hand me a shovel and I glow. I love my body when it’s just me and it alone bounding through the day.  

       Once, when I was a little girl, my parents were kissing, and I said, “Gross.” My mom sat me down, and her words, to this day, make me grateful that my parents love each other and enjoy a healthy love life.  She asked me to never again judge her in her affections. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” she said. “Attacking a person’s sexiness is as personal and base as one can get.”

       Being abandoned by my husband has taken a toll on me. I was head over heels for him for 17 years (from the time I was 15). Then he walked away from me and our son. So I spent six years of my thirties single and celibate, focusing on providing for and raising my son and me.  

       I have learned a lot about who I am and what I am made of. I am thankful that the headiness of my youth has finally been watered down with the silence of age. A pivotal change came when a girlfriend told me, “Courtney, life is a soap opera. There is a time to be in the cast, but sometimes you need to learn to sit back and watch it unfold and stop trying to control everything, because you can’t. It will be the script and dreams you imagined that will be hard to let die, but you will get over it.” The dreams did eventually fade as it was clear that I could not get them back. And I suppose now that seizing the day makes some sense after all. Each day has become a joy . . . not perfect, but a joy.  

       So: I was truly happy all by myself, with my son, minding my own business, when a man asked me out almost a year ago. I am still working hard to wrap my head around the fact that this man loves me wholly. I know he loves ME, and I can understand why. But I do feel as though he settled in looks. His ex-wife and daughters are gorgeous. It took me by surprise when we became intimate that up from the deep rose the flood waters of physical insecurity. “Really?” I said to myself in disgust. “Aren’t you over this.” Apparently not. Which is weird, because I like who I am, and I don’t obsess over my body. I don’t diet and I don’t fret. I move like a giant ballerina. It’s cool.

       My mom’s words have become a mantra. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” I know that these words are true; otherwise everyone in the world would be single except for people described as a “10.” I know that I don’t see physical beauty as a factor in the word sexy. I believe that my boyfriend is the handsomest. He is thoughtful, kind, patient, and passionate. He is solid, knows who he is, values honesty as much as I do. He is a wonderful, unwavering, hard-working father and friend. He is active in the things he likes to do.

       I suppose everyone at the end of the day values character over arm candy, or maybe not. I don’t know. But I know what I value. I also know wonderful men exist. My father cringes when he hears a man refer to his wife as the “ball and chain.” He has always made it clear that my mom is his best friend and that she is his one-of-a-kind girl. He raised my sister and me to be independent, because his father, born in 1911, once told him that a woman should never have to rely on a man to make it.

       It is this that I want to live for. It is this wisdom I want to hold. 

— Courtney Cox