Thursday, October 15, 2015

An Open Letter to My Body

My Dear Body:

We need to have a talk. This has been a long time coming, and I think I will feel much better when I finally have this off my chest and out in the open. This, my one and only, is my sincerest letter of deepest apologies. I am sorry. I am sorry for the harsh judgment and criticism I spill on you every day. I am sorry for the terrible, awful, and rude things I have said to and about you. "Gross." "You are disgusting." "You are so fat." "Flabby-Mcflabberson."  This only scratches the surface of the scathing reviews I so willing give you. I would never say these things to or even about anyone else, yet I unrelentingly pour them out on you without reservation. I am starting to realize that this is not ok. Let me explain.

I live in a culture and time that constantly pounds into the conscious of women from the time we are young girls playing with dolls and watching princesses in movies that beauty is a size and shape. Measurements of waists outweigh the measurements of character. Statements like, "She would be so beautiful if she were thinner," fly easily from people's mouths. I am intimidated by every pound gained during a pregnancy because it might be the one I can't lose after pregnancy that makes people say, "She was always thin before she had babies." I compare myself to women in films and on magazine pages and catwalks whose entire existence is spending the bulk of their time working out and planning their meals because it affects their livelihood. (God forbid they gain a pound too much or they will lose their next role, campaign, booking, etc.) I fill my Pinterest boards, Instagram, and other accounts with images of women in bikinis, fitted clothes, or workout gear flexing toned extremities and washboard abs without an ounce of excess flab in sight under the hashtag #goals in an effort to confront myself with the images of perfection that I am not meeting but long to attain. Images like these make me despise myself for missing a workout and hate myself for any excess calories I might consume. Women on social media platforms body shame and judge one another without regard to the heart, soul, and mind of the person inside. I sit at tables and measure my food choices to those around me, silently resenting someone for eating the things I fear eating or for eating the way I wish I had the willpower to eat. I compare myself to others; hating myself for what I am and what I'm not all at the same time. I look in the mirror and perceive myself as too big, too flabby, too short, too pale, too plain, too imperfect. I apply an attitude of criticism and judgment to you and how you look each and every day.

The posture I should really take when I observe you is one of gratitude and awe. You have grown and given birth to two amazing, beautiful, healthy babies with minimal problems. You have sustained said babies' first year of life with super food that you freely and naturally create; a substance that not only gives them all of the nutrition they need but that also keeps them from getting sick and keeps me from having to mix and warm bottles in the wee hours of the night. You are constantly performing operations, even down to microscopic levels, that keep me alive and well...things you do without my conscious effort that if they suddenly ceased would suddenly cease me. You just had a wellness check that proved that you are in great condition: perfect blood pressure, great glucose levels, within the normal BMI range, and excellent cholesterol. How can I, in light of your stellar performance, continue to look at you with disdain and disappointment?

In 2012, I lost my great-grandmother, who had lived a long, active, and healthy life until she was diagnosed with cancer at the end of it. As she lay in the hospice bed, I don't believe that she was thinking, "I wish I had maintained a size six my whole life," or, "If only I hadn't had any excess weight anywhere on my body, my life may have been happy." And I can assure you that no one by her bedside was saying, "Good thing she always ate a perfectly balanced diet," or, "I will really miss how in shape she always was and how good she looked in her clothes." While she had lived a very healthy life, these weren't the things she focused on at all. She poured herself into her family and home and hobbies. I never once remember in my lifetime moments with her judging how she looked but thinking instead of how much I was enjoying working in her garden with her or playing Rummikub around her kitchen table with her or eating turnip greens, cornbread, and sweet tea with her or playing Wii bowling until the late hours of the night with her. It was the memories I made with her that I carry with me daily, not the memories of how she looked. In fact, I have failed to see a tombstone yet for anyone that says, "She was so thin - never missed a workout or ate a carb." I want my children one day to remember their mom laughing and smiling and enjoying life with them; not stressed out and unhappy, hating herself and beating herself up for what she wasn't.

I am sorry for treating you so badly after all that you have done so well. I am sorry for eating disorders I thrust upon you during my lifetime. I am sorry for the awful things I have thought and said about you even to this day. I am sorry for trying to make you something you aren't. And I am mostly sorry that I haven't realized these things sooner. I will try to get better. I will work out and eat right not to be a certain number on the scale or a certain size in clothes but to make sure you are as healthy and strong as you can be so that we can enjoy the life with which we have been so abundantly blessed. I will try to remind myself of these things I have written here (and in a blog post before) to be sure I view you in the proper light. I promise to do my best to look at you and see you for what you are - the beautiful life giving and sustaining system that was perfectly crafted by The Creator stitch for stitch and moment for moment - because life is too short to be overly focused on the externals, and when we come to the end of this life, it won't be those things that people remember of us. (At least I pray it is not...woe to us if it is...) Maybe if everyone was more focused on his or her heart and The One who makes it lovely, the whole world would be a more beautiful place. I promise to try to be one of that everyone...

All my love and gratitude,


Post a Comment