How I Learned To Love My Body

[From the Beautiful Body Project]
I used to mind the wrinkles gathering like old fabric around my middle. I cringed at the stripes I earned from one baby and then two, stripes that left once and then came back and never left.

I used to pull and tug on the undesirable parts, holding them in proper position, wishing they’d obey and just stay. right. there.

But as soon as I let go, argh. They’d retreat back to the places gravity inspired them to rest. I would sigh, disappointed. Thinking the best years in this body must be over.

After my sons were born, I used to hope you’d tell me I didn’t look like I’d just had a baby. I gauged success by how quickly my zippers zipped and buttons buttoned in the old jeans I missed for nine months.

I used to envy the teenage girls at the neighborhood pool, with their long legs and evenly tanned skin, hair with the childhood sparkle, and all their feminine curves budding perfectly, enviably, into position.

But that’s when I thought my body was for impressing people. I know better now.

I used to think my body was some kind of living mannequin on which I hung the fashions everyone else told me to love that season. Some days, I was a display case with a smile.

I thought it was a competition, a Who Wore It Best showdown every day. I was terrified of wrinkles, of watching my youthful beauty cave to gravity. I thought losing youthful beauty would leave me with no beauty at all.

But that’s before I learned what a body is for: A body is for loving.

Maybe you didn’t know. Maybe no one told you that taut, tight and skinny doesn’t make you loveable and it sure won’t make you feel loved.

Maybe this whole time you’ve been thinking bodies are for making people jealous, or for cramming into small things. Maybe you’ve been under the impression that bodies that take up less space are better bodies.

Maybe no one shared the secret that the leanest, skinniest version of you isn’t necessarily the healthiest.

It turns out the only body we need is one that can wake up today and love. Can yours do that? 

Your body is your Soul-House. Your body is your story, and it is always honest. If you love cream puffs and hate the gym, it will tell on you. Like a child.

But it doesn’t stop there. A body is all the good and the bad, the horrible and the beautiful moments of your life, shaped gently or suddenly, worn into layers, into you.

Your body is for love, and no matter the shape you’re in, you can do that.

Sure, you should take care of yourself. You should eat food that nourishes your body and soul. You should go for long walks with the people you love. You should get your beauty sleep. You should do what you can to stay here on earth with us as long as possible. But not so that you can impress with your curves in all the right places. We need you to hear to show us how to love in the silly, strong and beautiful way only you can.

All the good we do for our bodies only works when it starts with love because all the cramming and dieting, binging and purging, plucking and tucking won’t make us love ourselves one ounce more if we don’t already.

But your body is your Soul House. That is all. Can you love a body that holds a soul that loves?  

I can love my body now because I love my story. And not only that, I love what I do in this body. I love snuggling my baby to sleep. I love hugging my big boy or falling into my husband’s arms. I love the embrace of a friend, or wrapping the fingers of a newborn around mine.

And a body that does so much loving deserves not just to be tolerated but to be thanked. So stop where you are and thank your body for doing all that it does, for giving you the skin and bones, the eyes and ears, the hands and feet to live this life in.

Say thank you to your hands that prepare your food and lead your toddler across the street. Thank the eyes that see words on the page or another set of eyes of ones you love. Thank your mouth for speaking life and your ears for hearing it. Thank your belly for holding in your most important parts. Thank your legs and feet for carrying you about on your sometimes boring, sometimes wild journey.

And then, above all, thank the Father God with the crinkly eyes who looks at your body, soul and spirit and loves them all with a giant, never-ending love because he imagined you, just this way, long before you got here. And he wouldn’t change a thing.

I love how our dear Anne Lamott says it:

AnneLamott

 

Yea, don’t let that happen.

 

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7 thoughts on “How I Learned To Love My Body

  1. This is wonderful. I read it this morning and have been thinking about it throughout the day. What perfect timing, right when we are all obsessed with reversing the effects of the holidays on our bodies! Thank you for writing truth beautifully.

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    1. Thank you, Holly. Yes, I was hoping people would read this and get a better perspective and love for their body, rather than the usual self-hatred we show ourselves and our bodies when they do so much good for us. 🙂

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  2. I recently purged my clothing (inspired by you) of many items I wore and loved before my four babies changed my body forever. There were things present in bins and on hangers that I couldn’t get my right boob into let alone my entire body. It was liberating. And within the last six months I’ve discovered a significant amount of silver hair gracing my head. Rather than freaking out about it I’m beginning to embrace the beauty of aging.
    In the age of Botox and plastic surgery and the dismissal of the wise older woman, your perspective is refreshing.

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    1. Sarah, you always have wisdom I want to steal so I appreciate knowing I inspired you too. It’s nice to know we can just be who we are right now in the body we have and that it’s exactly what we need it to be.

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