My dear Body
This is long overdue, an apology of sorts. A moment of reaching out with an olive branch and bowing my head and yes, acknowledging my blatant insensitivity. The silent harshness that I seem to reserve for only you.
Will you hear me out? On behalf of my sisters everywhere?
Because we women are such paradoxical creatures, so capable of tremendous nurturing and care for others and yet when it comes to you, we have the ability to remain so frighteningly cold and detached;
with You we are different
we force food in
some of us force food out
we push you to the point of depletion
we malnourish you with excess sugars and processed foods
and ignore your quiet signals
we treat you as an object to be manipulated and changed, pinched and squeezed and ultimately branded with dissatisfaction. We view you as a project. A body that is never enough. Never thin enough, never firm enough, never quite ready enough to wear a bathing suit on the beach with unabashed self confidence
I am sorry for
standing you under ugly, florescent lights and demanding that you fit into clothing that hangs perfectly on bizarre looking mannequins with 12-year-old body types and enormous breasts.
and for shaming your tender, soft, parts when they struggle to fit into sizes that are mass produced and clearly do not recognize your specialness. Your soft, fleshy hips that held my beautiful boys for years. Your strong legs that have carried me with unflinching dependability through all my life’s losses and joys only occasionally hinting, with sore knees, that it’s been a long journey. And still, I disparage these same legs with they are in skinny jeans.
Forgive me for my relentless, critical eye which views you through the lens of air-brushed celebrities and fashion magazines that celebrate body types only seen in less than ten percent of the female population.
I apologize for those weak moments when I succumb to this dishonest brand of female beauty.
A beauty without flaws. No smile lines or wiggly parts or signs of cellulite.
Because this affects my relationship with you. It makes me look into the mirror and focus immediately on your imperfect-ness instead of seeing the whole person. My complexity, my smarts, my creativity, my loud, goofy laugh.
And all the while you are still there. My friend and warrior against illness,
my one and only Body.
waiting patiently for a wisdom that comes from a deeper place.
So as the holidays approach I will strive to treat you better.
I pledge to slow down and listen to you. To wait until I hear the rumblings of emptiness that tell me you’re ready for food. I will choose to be grateful for the sensation of fullness instead of guilty.
I will work to recognize the difference between feeling stuffed with food and being stuffed with emotions.
And I will remember this simple truth; people put food into their mouths for two reasons, because they are hungry for food or because they are hungry for something else. And it is up to me to know what I am truly hungry for at any given moment.
In hurried times I pledge to feed you crunchy, raw foods that come from the earth not because I want to you to look a certain way but because I love you…
because I want you to be emboldened with energy and vitality and because
you, my dear Body are the container of all that is precious about me,
my feelings, my life story, my future, the essence of my Soul…
You are me and I am You
and it is impossible for me to be a confident woman without a deep, abiding bond with you.
We are life travelers you and I, so during the holidays let us be best friends
When life gets stressful I pledge to go into nature for a walk that has nothing to do with calories and everything to do with getting in touch with my feelings. I will remember that I cannot change my relationship with food until I change my relationship with others.
And when I’m engaging in mindless eating instead of feeling bad I will look for unrealistic expectations in my life. I will beware of the “shoulds” I may be imposing on myself. And the unspoken expectations I may have of others. I will say “No” without guilt. I will set limits that restore harmony to my daily life.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I will seek out ways to care for myself. I will use techniques such as this one: I will put my hand over my heart and use the power of my own touch to calm myself, because research tells us that human touch slows down our body’s stress response. And when accompanied by soothing self talk such as, “This is really difficult now, but this too shall pass,” I can choose serenity.
During the holidays I will banish “fat talk” from my surroundings and I will speak up when I hear a family member make comments about a person’s body or weight in my home.
I will exercise when it feels good and stop when it doesn’t
I will write down one thing my body did well each day and offer kindness in return,
(examples: stretching, yoga class, massage, lotions, hot bath)
I will examine my expectations of my child’s appearance and instead of body comments I will re-focus on their unique qualities and talents. Comments directed at their whole person.
I will be open to using helpful “tools” that move me toward self knowledge like this hunger chart.
I will seek out material that is grounded in reality
like this refreshing post: What People Really Look Like
And if things get too hard… and I find myself struggling with feelings of sadness and hopelessness I will immediately seek help from a professional. Because in case you’ve never been to a good therapist,
(I couldn’t have said it better)
Now here’s a question for you, my reader.
When was the last time you looked in the mirror
and thought, “I love my body.”
*This post is dedicated to all the courageous eating disorder women that I once worked with.
I’m sharing this post at these special places: