An open love letter to my body
We live in a world where media and popular culture tells us that there is a body norm and that not sticking to it is harmful or unattractive. Indeed, it is how the dieting industry got so rich. Here is my letter to my body, apologising on their behalf as I try to shed the toxicity that has built up in my mind about it for years. I hope that you find something that strikes a chord in this. We were not built to hate ourselves. If you could cut everyone out of a mould, how boring would that be?!
It seems like we have co-habited for quite a long time but I’ve only spoken to you to send you hate and admonishments, cursing you for embarrassing me in shops when you don’t fit their idea of sizing. Occasionally we have had good days. The discovery of some of your functions was certainly grand.
For the most part though, I’m kind of wondering why you are still with me?
If anyone treated me like this for 27 years I would hope I would have run for the hills and sought some PTSD support. I have harmed you, I have overfed and starved you. I have made jokes of you to humiliate you as a defense mechanism for years, accepted so much mistreatment because I was ashamed of you...not once have I ever appreciated you. Your strength and resilience.
Those legs that keep walking, that are the first thing to be asked to wake up and get moving. They have the ability to walk for miles, dance, jog a bit, and the potential to do so much more.
Those arms I wobble in a masochistic self-loathing in car door mirrors, they have carried so much (including, most frequently, the cat.) They have written every single word that has led me here. They have made so many things.
That belly I hate on/off so much...why am I so mean to you? I possibly treat you the very worst and I owe you better. You are just flesh and blood- even if you are by society’s standards, too much. You protect my organs and stuff. You get my eggs ready. (Although we should probably have a chat about that, while you’re here...) mindfizz readers are now very aware that my grasp of biology is not great but while I am a chronic oversharer, even I have limits.
The point is, I have spent a long time hating my shell but there is no way to break free. Instead, with the help of a few good books and outside support, it’s time to try to love it (or at least become neutral about it; sometimes love is a lot to ask for those of us with complicated relationships with ourselves.)
Here are the promises I make to myself to show love to my body.
I'm going to give you meditation rather than allow you to build up stress and anxiety. (And if I ever need it, medication too.)
I am going to look after our brain, as despite many beliefs, and indeed this letter, we are attached and how I feel about you is the balance of everything. I’m not going to take it out on you when my image of you is bad. I’m going to wear those gorgeous dresses that fit well even on days where there is no occasion. Life is too short to leave lovely clothes waiting for something to happen.
I’m going to make time for lovely things for you: bath bombs, face masks, dancing, even when it feels like a gluttonous waste. I’m going to remember that I am far more efficient when I am cared- for and rested.
I’m going to find more ways to move that don’t feel like punishment. I’m going to listen to you and rest before you get on your knees and beg for it, and before you collapse of exhaustion (again). I will never again take you to a dieting club to be shamed, or beforehand sit in the toilets begging you to speed your systems up and claw marks into my stomach as I do. I will let you sleep. I will try to avoid eating pineapple as I know you don’t take kindly.
I’m going to do my best to set you free on dance floors and not give a tiny owl’s hoot about what you imagine people will say; I am trying to stop wasting good nights on giving in to anxiety. I will not compare you to other people for my own ego or to hurt theirs. I will never stop you from running toward a cat with your crazy eyes on. Your best you is my best me; and I am 100% the killjoy in this relationship. I’m sorry. I’ll work on loving you back, no exceptions, if you’ll just give me one more chance.
Do you see what I mean about an abusive relationship?
Do you see the energy I have spent hating myself when I could have been making memories, getting stuff done?
But then – I will forgive myself for that time wasted. There is nothing I can do about it now. Instead, I will tip my mint tea to the future and get an early night. Seems to be the best thing to do.
What is holding you back? Are there things about yourself or your body that you are giving energy to hating when you could be spending that time on self-care? Why not write your own letter to your body/mental block and see if it reveals anything that could help you. For me, it certainly helped heal some of the past damage I had done.
If body positivity interests you, follow @bodyposipanda on Instagram as an excellent starting point, and explore from there!