“And I said to my body. softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’
it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.’
There’s summer bodies, winter bodies, dad bods, revenge bodies. Categories for bodies.
I remember once when I was quite young, one of my uncles said “You’re cute, Kirsten!” And I replied with, “I know.” My dad had to give me a little lesson about manners and saying thank you, but oh, how I wish that sentiment had stayed.
I don’t know when it went away, really. I remember in the second grade someone called me fat. I said it was left over baby fat (I was a very chubby baby). Maybe it was the typical onslaught of puberty when I started to question my body, when I started to poke and prod and analyze.
There was a boy in school who terrorized me for years. He did call me fat. Ugly. Pig. No matter how much my sweet, loving father bragged about his beautiful daughters or stroked my hair and said I looked nice, nothing could remove those words from my soul. My dad could have said those sweet things a million times, but it would never stack up to the words of one mean boy.
I was so insecure and self-conscious when I was in junior high and high school. I restricted my eating, trying to be thin. This is outrageous, I know now. I am not overweight. But I am also not totally thin, trim, and toned. When I sit, there are rolls! The horror! My thighs jiggle. The shame! I have too much junk in that trunk. I can’t even figure out if that’s a good or bad thing!
About a year ago, I was apparently very thin. My grandma would hug me and say, “Kirsten, you’re too thin. Are you alright?” It was stress, honestly. I wasn’t doing anything to lose that weight. I knew it wasn’t good to be at those intense levels of stress for long, but in some way, I craved it when people would say “You’re looking extra tiny.” I was willing to put my mind and body through incredible stress just to be…. thin.
It wasn’t until later that people mentioned it was actually kind of “scary skinny.”
Then I was essentially on bed rest for 6 weeks and never really bounced back from that. I kind of think that’s okay.
The thing is, I am quote-unquote thin. I don’t struggle with thinking I’m overweight, but I have to remind people that thin does not equal healthy, and I am horrendously out of shape. But even with this thinness, I poke, I prod, and I analyze. I’ve definitely been lazier. Eating less healthy. Spend more time watching Netflix than being outside walking.
We have an obsession with bodies, whether it’s drooling over naked bodies or criticizing bodies we don’t like or trying to achieve what we think is the “perfect” body.
I am at a stage in my life where I am loving (or trying to love) my body more and more. My body that breathes and laughs and sings at the top of my lungs. The arms that snuggle my niece or greet my cat or hug a friend who is crying. My body that healed itself, slowly and painfully, and now has a really cool scar to show for it all. My body that is home to much more than a body: a mind hungry for knowledge, a sense of humour, a passionate and loving soul, and a big, crazy, overwhelming at times heart.
There is no self-loving empowerment anthem that can make me love my body. I have to learn to. I have to fuel it, feed it, treasure it, even when things jiggle.
I’m human. I see those really, really fit people on Instagram and look at the crumbs in my bed and feel a little down on myself. I’m human. How could I not? But then I remember that this body, this body is different because it is mine.
Some day I’ll have children of my own (I mean, probably), and I want to shield them from this body obsession. My niece has all these perfect little baby rolls and I tell her how much I love her belly and her thigh rolls, but when she is older and she can understand what I’m telling her I want to praise her intelligence, her kindness, her sense of humour… things that have nothing to do with the way her body looks.
Because our bodies are more than what looks good in a selfie or those Instagram progress pictures.
So what can you, today, thank your body for doing or being?