In Defense Of Our BodiesPosted: July 28, 2010
Darling student, who found a great deal of amusement in finding fat on my arms and thighs, and even more amusement in bringing it to my attention:
You, sweetheart, are only nine years old. Your body is still indiscernible from that of your male classmates. In a few years, you’ll start to develop curves, and perhaps you’ll understand why I’m neither shocked nor dismayed by the fat on my body.
You see pokey thighs; I see strong and toned legs that enable me to run 5 miles, climb trees, scramble up rock walls, and strut around in heels when the night calls for it.
You see jiggle on my arms; I see athletic limbs that let me throw a perfect spiral, get me across the monkey bars in ten seconds flat, wrap friends in hugs, and hold on for dear life.
To quote Lucille Clifton: “I have known [these hips] to put a spell on a man and spin him like a top.”
What you see, dear girl, is a woman’s body. One that I am completely in love with, not because it’s perfect – and it’s far from it – but because it’s mine.
It’s been through a lot with me, and it’s going to be there for the rest of my life. I stand behind it 100 percent, and will defend it with a deep loyalty.
Your comments held the potential to devastate me. A year ago, they’d have ensured a three day fast and an elliptical marathon. However, my mentality has changed completely, but I’m concerned that unless your own attitudes towards fat change drastically in the next few years, you’ll find yourself in a similar cycle of self loathing.
Promise me that you’ll entertain the notion that women’s bodies are not meant to mirror the physique of an elementary school boy. Promise me that you’ll be less critical of your own body that you were of mine; it breaks my heart to think that in a few years, you could be standing in front of a mirror, conducting fat checks, searching your entire body for soft spots. I’ve been there. It produces nothing but misery.
I tell you daily that the world has so much for you to see; what you see may not be the issue, but rather, how you see it.
Having a critical mind should not mean having a critical spirit; this applies doubly to your own body. View it with love and treat it with kindness. It’s not something to be manhandled and manipulated – it’s something to be nurtured and appreciated.
I’m not foolish enough to deny that much of what I tell you goes in one ear and out the other, but if there is one thing I can pass on to you, it’s that once you cannot have a happy and fulfilling life if you spend all your time focusing on flaws. You cannot enjoy all there is to enjoy if you’re nursing hangups and fostering negativity.
You deserve so much more than what you’re setting yourself up for.
Every woman deserves so much more.