Monday, September 29, 2014

Walking the Walk - Body Love Edition

I started hating my body in elementary school. I got boobs, not even real boobs just boob nubs, in fifth grade & I started to gets hips around the same time. I remember staring into the mirror & wishing I could just cut a straight line from my waist & slice away my nascent curves. In middle school we talked about anorexia. A picture of Karen Carpenter weighing double digits was passed around. I think the idea was to shock us with her thinness, but I wasn’t shocked. I was impressed. I was in awe of these women who had such self-control that they could deny themselves food & control their bodies. I felt controlled by my body.

In my mind, my body was excessive in every way. It grew curves, hair, & desires without my permission. It was a hungry, desirous pile of flesh careening towards being the worst things a body could be: fat and slutty.

When I hit 100 pounds, I figured there was no way back. I was obviously fat and going to stay that way forever. When I kissed a boy for the first time, I figured there was no way back. I was obviously a slut and going to stay that way forever. And I was devastated.

It has taken years to heal the feelings of loathing I nurtured towards my body. It has been a struggle to balance embracing my body and taking steps to be a healthier version of myself without waging a war of hatred against my body. But I have made a lot of progress.

I love my body for what it has done and continues to do. This body has carried and birthed three children – two at the same time! This body fed two of my children for the first 7.5 months of their lives. This body shudders in pleasure. This body receives and gives love. This body curves and shakes and dances. This body basks in warmth, shivers in cold, and is my all around tactile window into this physical world. It warns me with pain, shares my emotions through expressions & tears, and even reminds me to eat.

I no longer think of my body as separate from me. It is me. I am my body.

Loving myself and my body is not to claim that I am not flawed or that my body & I are as healthy and active as I'd like us to be. My body is in recovery from carrying twins, even over a year after their birth. I am going to physical therapy, but it's hard to not just go full-speed ahead. I am imperfect. I struggle with balance and moderation. But I work hard to be gentle with myself, both physically and emotionally, even though my recovery from the twin pregnancy is taking far longer than I anticipated. I try to love my body as it is, even in transition, but I don't always succeed. 

Recently, I was watching my one year old daughters trying to learn to walk. The monkey child is built just like me. I see it most of all in her legs. There’s a curve on her inner knee and she has the most adorable one year old cankles. I noticed these things because somehow I still believed these physical traits in my legs were flaws that needed fixing. Flaws that I could somehow erase if I lost enough weight, if I just had enough self-control. My kid is proof that I will have these legs, these lumps, these cankles – even at 20 lbs. 

Today I’m focusing on loving my legs, as they are, so that when my daughter realizes she has the same legs, she will have an example of what it means to love your lumps, bumps, and cankles.