“I owe my body an apology. Technically, I owe my body thousands of apologies, for the thousands of times I’ve accused it, pushed it, starved it, made fun of it, lied about it, hid it, hated it. But now I owe it another on, and I also owe it my gratitude, long overdue, and for the first time, sincere.” -Shauna Neiquist (Cold Tangerines)
Something that I’ve struggled a lot with over the past months and years is how my body looks. To be more specific, how my body looks in comparison to everyone else’s bodies. Somewhere along the hallways of Jr.High and the t.v. shows and the pages of magazines and friends telling me all about diets and workouts, my views of what my body was supposed to look like got lost. The love that I once held for my body got snatched from my hands and twisted and trampled on by the world around me. They replaced that love with lies. And I believed every one of them.
This beautiful, powerful, strong, capable body of mine became my enemy. This body that was supposed to be my friend, that I was supposed to love and take care of became the one thing that I hated with all my heart. For years I’ve tried to change it, to alter it, and then stared at it with disgust and disdain when it refused to change. When my stomach refused shrink into the cute flat tummy of so many women around me, my disgust for my body grew. When my thighs refused to produce the coveted “thigh gap”, my disgust grew. When my face refused to become smooth and contoured, my disgust grew. When I tried on clothes and felt more like an overstuffed sausage casing than a princess, my disgust grew.
I was so blinded by how my body never measured up that I couldn’t see all of the ways that despite my hate and punishment it kept providing for me. My body was fighting tirelessly against me; trying to show me that it was the perfect body for me and what I was meant to do. It provided me with strong legs to be able to ride and train horses, it provided me with muscled arms to be able to lift children onto horses and throw hay bales onto truck beds. But more important than that, it provided me with a heart that wants to see others reach their potential, to see them overcome their fears. It gave me eyes that can see (all be it with some help from glasses), so that I can take in the beauty and artistry all around me. It gave me ears to be able to hear the sound of laughter and the voices of the people I love.
I have fought my body so hard and for so long that I forgot what I was like to love it. To love the curves and the bumps and the spots. To love the perfect imperfection of it all. To look at myself in the mirror and not see all of the things that I wish I could change, but instead to look at this amazing body that God has given me and to be thankful for it. Self-love and acceptance is a hard road to travel down in our day and age, but it’s one that I want to reach the end of. I want to get to the place where what my body looks like is no longer my top priority but instead what I can do with my body to glorify God is all that I care about.
“I couldn’t forget if I tried what my life was like before that, feeling like a linebacker in a world of Tinkerbells, the pinching feeling of a too-tight waistband making my stomach feel fleshy and soft, like scrambled eggs spilling over the top of my pants. I carry with me the heavy shame of being ten and too big, and fifteen and too big…And it’s a lot to carry, but I can’t leave it behind. I don’t want to. In some ways, everything has changed, and at the same time, when I look into my own eyes in the mirror, we both know that only so much has, and that we all carry our weight in very different ways.” -Shauna Neiquist (Cold Tangerines)
And so I’m doing possibly one of the scariest things I can think of by putting this out there. By telling others about something that I’ve hidden for so long. But there is freedom in letting go of lies and turning back to the truth. So I will cling to the truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that my imperfect body is perfectly suited to my imperfect life.