Has my body ever really been my own?
Has my body ever really been my own? I mean really mine! Has there ever been a time that I could do whatever I wanted with it and not fear other people’s judgement? I was born with my body and it is attached to my brain. I control the mobility of it. But do I really have control of it? I like putting clothes on it, and making a statement when I walk out my front door. I spend hours shopping for just the right clothes that fit it and show off its best attributes. I like to wear high heals because it makes me feel powerful and feminine. I use body washes that smell like fresh vanilla and ripe strawberries that make my skin smooth and touchable. I shave it of all of its hair, because I was told at a young age that body hair is a masculine trait. The only place that hair is acceptable is on my head. Then there is my face. I could write a whole post or more over the money and time I spend on my face. Not that I am complaining, because going to Sephora is high on my list of enjoyable ways to spend my Saturday afternoon. But when did this all start?
Sometimes I feel like I am renting my body and doing the best I can
I think it was when I was 16 years old and I would ride my bike down to our local drug store where they sold beauty products. I would spend hours looking through the make up, trying it on if I could, and reading the labels to find the perfect product that would enhance my features and make me feel beautiful. I was obsessed with mascara, and felt naked without it. I was also obsessed with my nails, and would buy all sorts of polishes that promised to keep them from breaking. Over the years I have spent a lot of time and energy on my body. But can I say that I feel 100% ownership of it? No, I can’t! Sometimes I feel like I am renting it and doing the best I can.
I noticed that if my body had over a certain fat percentage that I was not accepted very easily
For me, the ownership of my body came into question when I was a child and the people around me used it to fulfill their own needs without my consent. Was it my body or theirs? My boundaries of where I ended and they began became fuzzy or non existent. I would do my best to take care of it, but I started out in confusion. The confusion continued as I entered puberty and I was judged by how much fat I carried on my body. Not only by the people who had used my body but then also from classmates and society as a whole. I noticed that if my body had over a certain fat percentage that I was not accepted very easily. So, I worked hard on keeping my fat percentage low throughout middle school and high school.
When was he going to get my body?
When I got to college, the boys my age liked it if I filled my body with liquids that made me less coherent and more willing to do what they wanted me to do. I was more accepted when I did this, and college was more ‘fun’ when I went to parties and events where this type of interaction took place. After college I moved to a big city and started dating. It seemed the main question between my potential boyfriend and me was when was I going to give him my body? We would talk, and go out on dates, he would meet my friends and see my apartment. We would get to know each other but the question would linger in the air in everything we did. When was it going to happen? When was he going to get my body?
I felt fat and ugly and sidelined from society
I managed to sift through the guys that ONLY wanted my body and found my current husband who wanted that, but he also liked me too! We started a family. In pregnancy my daughter called the shots of what was happening to my body. I gained 50 pounds as eating was the only way I could stop my nausea. When she was born, I had a newborn and an extra 50 pounds on me. My mood started to sink as I knew that my fat percentage was high and that was not acceptable. I knew I had to do something about it so I bought some magazines to get ideas of how to shed the extra fat. Well, if I already wasn’t falling into a depression, these magazines put me over the edge as the women looked amazing! They were already back to their pre-pregnancy weight in a month! They looked happy, and had time to wash their hair and put outfits together. Their babies were cute and happy and everything looked perfect. I stared at the glossy pages and knew I was not one of these women. They were going out with friends, and somehow finding a babysitter. I don’t think I left my daughter for the whole first year of her life. I felt fat and ugly and sidelined from society. My husband noticed my mood and offered to watch my daughter so that I could go work out. So, working out became a huge part of my life and I eventually did lose all the fat, and some. But I did it slowly and it was a lot of hard work.
I started to feel like my husband’s eyes were drifting to other bodies
So, I had a 2 year old baby, my body was back in shape and I was feeling pretty good. Was my body mine yet? Did my husband like my body? I started to feel like his eyes were drifting to other bodies. Was I not good enough anymore? My confidence started to dip as I felt that my body was tired and stretched out and not as fun. For years I continued to pour my energy into my body so that it appeared inviting and vibrant. I wasn’t ready not to be noticed and a lot of my self esteem came from being admired for my outside qualities. But, shouldn’t I be the one who accepts my body first, rather than worry if everyone else accepts it? Now that I am entering midlife, people don’t seem as interested in my body unless I don’t look like someone who is entering midlife. And I sometimes look at my body and feel that it is not good enough. That it is not beautiful enough.
My body told me it wasn’t happy which is what started me on this journey
But I am starting to realize that the true beauty of my body doesn’t solely depend on how it looks but what it does for me. My body held it all together for me when I was a child, it got me through trauma and confusion. It stayed strong and held me up so that I could walk away from the abuse. My body walked me to work and helped me to be proficient in my finance career so that I could support myself and start my own life. My body would give me signals that helped me to figure out who was on my side and who just wanted to use me. My body felt relaxed and safe when I met my husband, and it let me know that it was ok to let my guard down. My body became more powerful when my daughter was born, as it filled with strength to protect her and guide her through life. My body has been there for me every step of the way. Four years ago my body told me it wasn’t happy which is what started me on this journey. It did this by physically shaking and becoming immobile at times to alert me that what I was on the wrong path.
My body is my best friend
My body has been beat up, tormented, used and taken for granted but it keeps honoring me, it keeps talking to me, it keeps telling me what is best for me. My body is my best friend. And now I have the power to decide if I love and honor my best friend or turn my back on her.