So if my body and I had a Facebook relationship status, it probably would have said “It’s complicated.” Looking back on my 40 year relationship with my body, I realized that my body has pretty much been everything that you could ever ask for as one part of a relationship, and I have been…well, the abusive mate. My body has been starved, ridiculed, yelled at, insulted, shamed, overworked, poisoned and ignored. Through it all for the most part, my body has stood there through thick and thin (literally), taking the abuse and then at then end of the day stepping up to the plate and doing what it was supposed to do. My body has made two children, hiked mountains, rolled down hills and painted paintings. It has eaten and made wonderful meals, had amazing sex, sung songs and laughed until it peed a little bit. It has cried, hurt, shivered with cold, sweated in heat. It has been bruised, bashed, scraped and battered. It has raised its hand in anger and embraced with love. It has always been there and done for the most part what I asked of it. Sure, I have been graced with the flu or the errant sinus infection here and there, but for the most part considering the wear and tear I have put it through, it has delivered.
So why for so long, have I been the abusive, unappreciative, partner in this relationship? THAT is a good question….and one that I didn’t know even needed to be asked until just recently. I didn’t know that I needed to question this because I truly felt that this is just what we as human beings did….we waged war with our bodies. Ok, I know that sounds a little dramatic but when you think about it, that’s what we do when we are always looking to shape, change, mold and morph the bodies we have. I did this sometimes in very obvious ways (I got down to 98 lbs in college), and sometimes subtle ways (I would finally be happy when I could put my face on my shins in standing forward fold- pushing my back into a space that was not healthy for me). As I grew older the obvious sabotage I could identify ;we all know that a woman 5’7” should not weigh 98 lbs. It was the deep, ingrained, subversive body abuse I couldn’t see. Not only could I not see it, I actually encouraged the ideas and thoughts that captain that ship of self-doubt. We are living in a world where we know we are being fed unattainable ideas such as the airbrushed 12 year old model. We struggle and rail against these images. I wonder however, what is more toxic? The 12-year-old airbrushed model, or the new more subversive, woman power idea of “YOU CAN HAVE IT IF YOU WORK HARD ENOUGH!!!!”. What is the IT, in this equation? We are too smart to buy into the IT of the unattainable….so I think the IT in question here is the idea of “BE WHO YOU ARE, BUT JUST BE THE BEST YOU, YOU CAN BE!” Ok, so what is wrong with that message? EVERYTHING. If we are being told that our own inner awesomeness is just a moment, kale chip, forward fold, meditation, smoothie away- we are still being told that WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH JUST THE WAY WE ARE. These things do NOT make us better, they do not make us happier, they do not make us anything (except maybe a tad bit more regular:). The messages we hear and buy into continue in this vein are just as toxic….Here is just a sampling: “Your Imperfections are what make you perfect.” -Steven Monaco “We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly”-Sam Keen. “Perfect is boring, its your imperfections that make you beautiful.” -Unknown So wait, what are we being told? That you can be a great you if you work a little harder, or even better yet, its all the things that aren’t so great about you in the context of defined beauty that make you great. Okay here’s the thing. THATS BULLSHIT. Yup, B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T. The truth is, that these ideas are still asking us to accept the fact that we are still not there (even though thank goodness we could be there if we just worked hard enough) OR because there is a preconceived idea of beauty and perfection that we can never live up to we should just try to redefine that idea but still use the same paradigms for beauty that we have always used. Here’s what I think….I think I am tired of hearing what I could be. That somehow even with my body I am still only a version of what we all believe to be beautiful because I am redefining it (while still holding on tightly to the idea of traditional beauty.). Here’s what I KNOW. I am beautiful right NOW. I am perfect, imperfect, SHIT who CARES because that is an outmoded system. I am ME. My body does great things. I love my breasts that nursed children. I love my legs that have wrapped around my lovers bodies. I love my arms that have held the people I love close to me. I love my body NOW. I don’t love my body because I am accepting my perfect imperfections (gag). I don’t love my body because amazing untapped potential lies inside of me. I love my body because my body IS perfect because it is MINE. It has stuck with me for forty years. It has loved me without conditions beyond measure. Its time for me to love it back, the way it has loved me.
When we love something, we take care of it. It’s natural, its easy. We love our children, we love our family. We take care of them because that’s what you do when you love something…..there is no second thought. We look at our children or pets, friends, or family and see freckles and arms and legs and wrinkles and big bottoms and we love them because that is THEM. We need to do that now for ourselves. Look at ourselves and LOVE ourselves and our bodies NOW. We love our people now not for their “perfect imperfections”, but because they are perfect because they are THEM. Your body has served you for your entire life. It has loved you, patiently waiting, taking abuse, holding you up, keeping you safe. It is time for us to LOVE our bodies back. EVERY body is perfect. Every BODY is perfect. Every body is PERFECT!!!!!! If we LOVE and accept our bodies NOW, all the other stuff falls in line, because you cherish what you love. You nurture what you love. We do that for everyone else. Its time we do it for ourselves.
This is my body manifesto- my love story. I would not have been able to write this without all of you. It is seeing all of you practicing in your bodies, in your skin, and having flashes of that love. Man oh man, I have to say it is pretty fucking awesome. You all shine like the sun…and are beautiful beyond measure.