How do you feel about them currently?
My belly and my breasts were my ultimate foes. My belly was too full and my breast were too slight. One was even larger than the other. My legs weren’t long or thin enough. I was too big. I took up too much space. My desires for admiration and praise were bottomless. I felt unseen. I felt unseeable. I wanted to hide my flaws. I tried to starve them away but failed. I sincerely believed my perfect appearance was the only way for me to attain acceptance or love.
How do you react, what happens, when you see these parts of your body negatively?
Through that lens my body becomes hideous and disgusting to me because it fails to meet any of the preordained expectations. Trying to force my body into an arbitrary beauty standard has looked like a lot of unhealthy behaviors. Eating too much, not eating enough, not eating at all, restricting calories, excessive exercising, loosing touch with what my body needs to be healthy and happy and fully functional. All the while I was striving for an allusive ideal that I never could maintain. It was exhausting. It was miserable. It was soul crushing.
Who would you be if you really loved your body?
It took having a baby for me to shift this lens away from what my body looked like to others and begin to focus instead on the amazing things my body can do. Really the amazing things all female bodies can do.
I still struggle with the truth that is hiding in plain sight all over my body. I still have a hard time seeing myself and my body as powerful. My body is the vessel my son used to gain entrance into this world. What?! It hasn’t “bounced back” It has been forever changed by the experience. Of course it has.
I’m larger than I have ever been. One breast grew and the other didn’t. My stomach has a full reserve of fat that is meant to sustain me if the food sources suddenly dry up and I am the only thing my son can depend on for nourishment. I still long for a my dream of a dancers body, long and lean and powerful… but that longing causes a betrayal of my greater truth. I have a mother’s body. I have the body that shows the struggles I’ve had with lack of self acceptance. My body is full of what it has experienced. It isn’t just to be gazed upon. It is the vessel my soul uses to experience life. Limiting the expression of my body to the very limited imaginations of a few men in power is a betrayal of my divinity.
What places on your body do you hope to see differently?
I see my body through a warped lens of comparison to manipulated images of ideal beauty. These images have been forced into my consciousness for the entirety of my life as a resident of a female body. I was taught to be ashamed of my body before I was taught how to drive, how to prepare a meal for myself, how to think critically about literature or solve an advanced mathematical equation. I taught I was my body and what other people thought of it.
What hopes do you have that would arise when other people see these images? When you see these images?
I hope to love the images of my bare self, exposed, vulnerable and strong. I hope to see that I am more than my failure to measure up.