Dear Body...

Dear body,

It’s been a rough season for us, hasn’t it? I haven’t loved you very well lately. I haven’t felt proud of you, haven’t felt good about you, haven’t really known how to address you or see you or appreciate you. I’ve preferred to just kind of ignore you, as if it was even possible to ignore the very skin I’m in and the muscles that move me. My inner monologue tears you apart constantly, berating every bit of you, wishing you were different, wanting you to be smaller, stronger, sexier, softer, skinnier, or somehow just better. It’s hard to even admit that out loud.

It’s been a journey to learn to love you better, and I admit it hasn’t been an easy one. It’s felt silly, stupid, shameful. I’ve felt embarrassed that “body image” was even a thing I brought up in counseling. I’ve felt dumb talking about it with my roommate and my boyfriend.

I’m sorry for that. I haven’t been respecting you well or honoring you at all, really.

But I want to work to change that. It feels hard and weird and uncomfortable, but I know it matters. I know you need me to care more, to be more kind, to be better.

I haven’t said this in a while, but I’m grateful for you.

I am, truly.

You have been through much, body of mine. You have been held and you have been hurt. You have been raped, you have been ridiculed, you have been complimented, you have been criticized. You have been touched and you have been teased, you have been loved and you have been ignored. You have persevered, and grown, and changed shape, and continued to stay living and breathing and moving.

I am proud of you.

There is strength in you that I don’t often take time to see. There is a softness too, and it’s beautiful. It isn’t weak. You are hard in places, and tender in others. You creak and crack, you stretch and fidget, you move and change and make living possible.

Today, I want you to hear me say that I think you are beautiful.

You are not perfect, but I’m learning that perfection isn’t a pre-requisite for my loving you. I can love you even in your imperfection— despite it, because of it, in the midst of it.

I’ve spent far too long tearing you apart with my thoughts, my criticisms, my judgments. I’ve spent too long hating you and hurting you, whether I was aware of it or not. I’ve spent too long trying to hide you and ignore you and wish you were different.

Today, I want you to know I am thankful for you. All of you.

Dear body, I wouldn’t be fully me without you. I love the way you wiggle when I’m really happy or eating something delicious. I love the way your nose crinkles when you smile really big. I love your green eyes, and the way the light catches them to make the color change. I love your long fingers— the ones they noticed when you were born and said would make you a pianist one day. (They were right.) I love your bushy eyebrows that can never be tamed. I love the spine that strengthens you, the neck that allows you to turn and observe or bow to pray and write, the shoulders you carry tension in. I love your legs, even that crunchy knee, and how they carry you to new places and lead you to every wedding dance floor and kick off the covers every night to cool down. I love your freckles and tanned skin, the signs of the sun you spent your childhood playing under and of adventures outdoors. I love your mouth— teeth and lips and tongue and all, and the way you allow me to speak and sing and kiss and eat and laugh and so much more. I love your arms— they hold, they hug, they carry, they rise in worship, they bring things within reach and extend beyond me too. I love your curves, I love your angles, I love your muscles and your bones, your soft skin and every one of those millions of hairs on your head. I love all 5’3” of you, every pound of you, every inch of you. I’m sorry I haven’t said that enough.

I want to love you well. I want to love you better.

I know it will take time, but I want you to know I’m practicing this new kind of self-care every day as I notice new parts of you and journal things I’m grateful for and just generally work to appreciate you more. I have worn out the paths in my brain that criticize you, and it will take hard work to blaze new trails of gentle love, but I’m committed to it. I’m doing the work. Because you’re my body, you’re the only one I get, and I want to make the rest of our life together something sweet and beautiful. I want us to thrive. And nobody thrives when they’re constantly being hated, I know that full well.

So here’s to you, body of mine— may you grow to take up all the space you need in this world. May your confidence increase, and your humility deepen. May your muscles grow stronger, may the food I eat nourish you well. May you stay active purely because it is life-giving and fun, and not out of punishment. May you stretch in new ways, may you notice and address the points of tension and work to release them, may you pay attention to what pains you and fight for healing in those places. I am here to love you, to respect you, to honor you, to appreciate you, to value you, to call you beautiful and worthy and mighty and good.

I love you, dear body.

Yours always— Me