Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Letter To My Body

Lizzie Miller
So here I am sitting in my comfy chair at starbucks, looking out the window and into the mall at the people walking past.  I judge each woman that passes on how beautiful, healthy, and fit she looks.  Is this normal?  They fall into two categories:  "better than me" and "be sure I don't let myself go there."  Most are in the "better than me" category.  I've always assumed every woman did this.  But my husband thinks I'm over-competitive and  weird.

How are you feeling about your post-partum body (if you're a mom)? I am still rejecting mine, and it's been 6 years since I was OK with myself.

One might suppose that this would lead to dieting and working out, and it has, some. But that's only been lately and right now I've gotten off the wagon and am having a devil of a time finding the resolve to get back on. When I got here, to my comfy chair, I logged into Pinterest and was greeted with a picture of a beautiful woman. She was discreetly nude and then I noticed she had a "mommy belly roll" just like me!  And she was still strikingly beautiful!  Blew my mind.   I thought:  I LOVE THIS PICTURE!  Turns out this woman was on page 194 of the September (2010?) issue of Glamour and started quite a storm of discussion about what is beautiful, from what I see online.  My introduction to the picture came from a wonderful blog entry in Our Life: Narrated by Lacey.  This blog is definitely worth checking out, especially this post if you'd like to hear from someone else who thinks the fashion industry's definition of "Plus Size" as any size over a SIX is rediculous!  Seriously?  She also has some more lovely pictures of >Size Six women.  

Another site I found some years ago called The Shape Of A Mother. The goal of the site is to reveal what is hidden in our culture: REAL women's bodies! All I seem to ever see in the media and along the check-out aisle at the grocery store are air-brushed, surgically remodeled, photoshopped, "optimized" bodies. Until I found this site, that was what I really expected of myself and of course could never come near fulfilling. The site suggests that by revealing what is hidden, we might adjust the expectations of society or its narrow definition of beauty. I think that's pretty idealistic and unlikely, but I do appreciate the sentiment and the opportunity to consider what I see in the bathroom before a shower to be less repulsive, less of a failure, less of a betrayal of myself by my body and maybe just a tiny bit OK. I should probably aim higher than that, but I'm highly visual and very critical when it comes to flesh, so babysteps for me. I sure would like to stop coveting the bodies of the teens that keep walking past the window here at the mall. 

Dear body,
Thank you for functioning so well these past 40 years. I know that until lately I've been taking you for granted.  You'd think that growing up with a mom with M.S. I'd know better than that, but no, mostly I've been critical of you for not being whatever I've been fed to believe was "perfect."  Sorry about that.  I mean, it's an understandable response, what with all the changes that came from two pregnancies and all the ice cream and chili cheese-fries they involved.  I am going to try to appreciate you more deliberately as you are, and try to focus less on trying to meet arbitrary standards.  We just need to get healthy, nothing more.
  • Thank you, senses, for bringing in the world.  
  • Thank you, kidneys, for dealing with all the crap I've fed this body and detoxifying the blood after all the alcohol and caffeine.  
  • Thank you, fat cells, for trying to keep me safe from starvation. I know you can't understand that there's no real danger of that now for me. Your wisdom is from my ancestors, and kept them alive in a time when food availability was not reliable, and there were no Starbucks full of creamy goodness.  
  • Thank you, breasts, for feeding my two babies the perfect food for four years. No wonder you look tired.  
  • Thank you, sturdy, dependable legs, for carrying me through this life and running me as far as I pushed you.  
  • Knees, sorry about that marathon, that was kinda stupid and unnecessary. It's just that I didn't realize at the time that I could get an injury that would not heal. 
  • Thank you, feet, for standing in heels for as long as you did.  It definitely was easier 70lbs ago.  Working on that.  You liking my new (low heeled Doc Marten) boots? I thought you would. Yes, we need to get some new Birkenstocks.  
  • Thank you, skin, for protecting all of us from the radiation of our star every day. We'd be toast without you. Sorry about all that squeezing and picking. I know you're doing the best that you can and that I could take better care of you. We'll moisturize tonight, OK?  It's a date. 
  • Finally, dear brain, the rest of us thank you for doing a yeoman's job keeping everyone regulated and in touch with each other. We know you are doing your best to navigate us through this life.  At least you keep us all entertained. No, seriously, I am glad we live in a time when there are medicines that can help keep you out of the depressive and over-anxious mode that we inherited.  "Better living through chemistry," right? We need to work on having better self-talk and muzzling Mr. Critic, I know.  But you do so many other things beautifully!  We play the piano, we draw, we appreciate beauty in sound and sight and smell, we love, we imagine, we pay attention to details, and wonder at the scale of the universe....  Here's to another 40 years.


  1. Also, very nice post. You are stunningly beautiful to me. Love ya!

    1. Awwwww... You are so sweet. You're gonna make everybody wanna hurl. ;) xxxooo

  2. "Their slack and flabby bodies were now capable of greater passion than when they were taut and strong. Before, they were all potential. That's what we love in youthful bodies, the teasing potential. Now hers is a body of accomplishment. Three fine children were the blossoms, then the fruit of this tree, gone off and taken root somewhere else. The tension of youth could now give way to a relaxation of the flesh. There were no more promises in their lovemaking. only fulfillment."
    --Orson Scott Card, "The Originist", Flux 1992

  3. Back at you! Great blog, great post!