Blogger’s note: The following blog has been through many drafts and iterations because in the end, I don’t love inspirational shit and feel like a bit of a ninny for writing it. Yet if this inspires you (or me) to be nicer to yourself (or myself), then freaking YAY. But before you get the impression that I’ve made some kind of breakthrough, I want to stress that I probably have not, and that it seems more likely that I’m every bit the mess I have ever been about body image. But some days, I can read this to myself and really mean it — and those are pretty good days. And other days involve a lot of donuts and self loathing. The point is that this is a journey so … uh … don’t stop believing (sorry). Anyway. Happy New Year. Let’s make 2017 SUCK LESS, mmmkay?
This year, there is nothing I resolve to change except the shitty, disrespectful way I have talked to and about my body. For years.
For some the New Year is a motivator to make great changes. For some … Okay, for me it’s a trigger. An excuse. One more reason to find shit wrong with myself.
As if need a special day to find shit wrong with myself. I’m doing it constantly. The big difference about the New Year is that instead of just finding shit wrong, I must develop a plan to change it, which doesn’t work. Because it’s rooted in the assumption and widely popular belief that I should always be at war with who I am, what I am, and especially what I look like. And every New Year, we must apologize to the world for our imperfections in the form of a big fat public promise to be better. To send ourselves to boot camp. Join another health club. Eat only Kale and red berries for three months.
Not this year.
I mean, do that if it floats your boat. If you love drill sergeants or blisters, or if kale makes you SALIVATE. But don’t do it for me. Or anyone. Or because it’s time to buy a new calendar.
Last year around this time, I had a minor surgery that, in the short term, made me feel less than myself. Largely because of how I was looking at it. I was mad at my body for needing the surgery. And then mad at it for healing poorly. I worried, fretted, and got pissed off at my body for lagging behind.
Three weeks later, I sat across from the surgeon at a follow-up consult. To my amazement, she told me my body was healing just fine. Right on schedule. Way to go body. Good on ya.
My doc left the room. I got dressed. I looked at my healing, upright sturdy bod. I felt renewed. I had been so wrong. I sent a big jubilant karate kick toward the mirror. Because you know what? I felt like a badass. And my body? Fucking amazing. And it’s not about what it weighs or what size jeans it fit into. It’s about the fact that it had been through a trauma and passed with flying colors. It had carried me through that trauma despite all my doubt and worry.
I resolve to love that body.
Those big feet that have carried me all over Venice, Salzburg, and Ljubljana. Those long legs and thick thighs that ran a half marathon last August. That belly with its infinite capacity for donuts. Those broad shoulders, that mouth, my eyes, my hair! I am in awe of it all. So very healthy. So very able to heal. So very mine.
I resolve to only look at the mirror this way, all year.
That’s going to be difficult, because it means that I have to stop looking in the mirror the way I usually do, like I am waiting for some kind of miracle makeover to occur right before my eyes. Like if I just caught my nose at the proper angle, it wouldn’t look so … Polish. If I pulled my shoulders back far enough, my stomach would finally look flat enough to me. If I just wore the right pants, my thighs would become slimmer and slimmer until maybe they would just disappear. Maybe I would just disappear. Because nothing I saw in that old mirror ever met my approval.
When those old thoughts come back, I resolve to say softly or loudly (depending on context): FUCK THAT. And move on until I can look at the mirror properly again. Or get rid of the mirror via karate kick.
Until I can look in the mirror properly: with respect. With the utmost respect for a body that has walked miles and miles and years and years for me, wherever I’ve needed to go. For a body that an ill or infirm person would give any amount of money for. A body that I’ve wasted so much time hating as to be an insult to anyone without the luxury of being whole, well, or alive.
I resolve to take this body to the best places. To do the best things with it. To keep climbing, to sleep when I’m tired, to hydrate, and to eat. To see what is right with it and stop looking for what is wrong.
Because someday, age will come, things will actually go wrong, and my body will need my respect even more.
And my body will have earned it.