Hey body…what have you done for me lately?
Ever since my daughter was born, I tell her the same thing at least once a week…”Your body is the perfect container for YOU”. I tell her this because I don’t want her to grow up hating her body because it’s the wrong height, or shape, or color or whatever. I think I was probably 8 years old the first time another kid told me my legs were too fat. Until then, I had no idea there was anything wrong with them! They ran, and jumped, and swam and tap danced and did all the things legs were supposed to do. But Jenny and her sister gleefully pointed out the ‘flab’ on my inner thighs and my whole world changed. Suddenly my body was a source of anxiety.
At 8, it didn’t occur to me to question Jenny’s credentials. She was 10 and therefore a life expert. I also didn’t know anything about nutrition or exercise. I ate what I was given and spent my allowance on candy, like most 8-year-olds, I imagine. I just happened to be an 8-year-old who was genetically predispositioned to resemble my squat, Russian peasant ancestors. I also grew up in a time and culture where it was increasingly unacceptable to be anything other than svelte and lean. The end result was about three decades of hostile relations between ‘me’ and ‘my body’. I definitely saw these as two distinctly different principalities and highly resented my body’s stubborn insistence on refusing to comply with my wishes.
Fast forward a lot of dysfunction and some behaviors I was frankly lucky to survive, two pregnancies and three children later and I have a much different perspective. I don’t think of my body anymore as this ‘ugly thing’ that I’m dragging around and have to beat into submission or else apologize for. It makes me sad that I used to feel this way and it makes me sad and angry that my daughter (or my sons, I guess), might feel this way. I get goosebumps when I see women embracing themselves for who they are, even as a remnant of that 8-year-old checks out the size of their thighs or their cellulite to make sure I’m in the range and am ‘allowed’ to feel that way too.
Because despite a LOT of punishment, my body has been great to me. It’s allowed me to live on this planet for over 40 years and only be hospitalized to give birth. It’s allowed me to mostly recover from a lot of toxic chemicals and substances with so far no adverse affects – the regenerative abilities of the human body are truly miraculous. It allows me to get as strong and healthy as I’m willing to put in the effort for and it allows me to hug and cuddle the people I love the most.
The only thing my body refuses to do for me is get skinny, no matter what I do to it or for it. But when I look back over my entire history with my body, I’d have to say that 100% of the times when “I” disagreed with my body, my body was right. It has rightly rejected all the harmful things I tried to do with it, even getting violently ill when I wouldn’t get the message just to get the point across. So I can only assume based on statistical evidence that my body is, in fact, the perfect container for ME. And there is unbelievable freedom in that. Limitless, even.