I decided to stop hating my body. I came to the conclusion that the reasons I had for hating it weren’t fair. My body hadn’t actually done anything wrong. It hadn’t done anything deserving of the loathing and disgust with which I treated it. The reasons I hated my body were attributed to the feast served up by the media and society; the feast we all willingly and unquestionably ate. Reminiscent of the feast The Lost Boys dreamt up in ‘Hook’. A feast filled with glossy, pink, tight-skinned super models. Eat this diet, drink this drink, buy all these products that cost way too much money, to attempt to look like someone you will NEVER look like. Oh, and when none of it works – hate your body. At 10 years old, I ate it up. My peers did too, which normalized it. But watching the generations of women before me devour it too, that’s what gave us permission. They all hated their bodies. But now that I’m a grown-up, I see the feast for what it is; what it isn’t and I actually haven’t enjoyed hating my body all these years. So I stopped.
I stopped hating my body because why hate the very thing that holds me together? The actual unit that makes me, me? The tiny pieces and parts that make me who I am. Why should I exert feelings of rejection, criticism and hatred towards my own landscape? The geography of my soft, brown skin flecked with a field of freckles and moles that exists only to blanket my muscles and bones. The same skin which when exposed, soaks in vitamins from the sun, vital to my organs and my mental well-being. This freckled, hairy geography mapped with an expansive network of river-like nerves that when touched: awaken, communicate, respond, tickle and tingle. Nerves that say so much without speaking; so powerful they can arrest my whole being, and weaken my knees to a full surrender with the slightest neck whisper. It’s pure magic, this skin. I do not hate you skin. You weather as I weather.
I trace the lines around my smile; around my eyes and they tell the story of all the best laughs and joys I have ever experienced. Smile lines only come from smiling. I replay the filmstrip in my head of the best laughs I have ever had. I love you smiles lines. You remind me of happy. Thirty-six years of smiling and laughing. What a beautiful flag. I do not hate you. You represent the people, places and moments that etched these lines on my face and I smile some more.
I trace the lines on my forehead. Several long, wavy paths formed from the rising and falling of my worried, anxious brow. These paths carry secrets only few know. Trapped within their fold are the great traumas and terrible griefs, worries, deep pain, fears, anger, frustration and disappointments. Like tree rings. They grow deeper every year, as every year collectively seems heavier. My feelings dragging a hoe across my forehead, tucking the seeds of my secrets into the lines. There’s a sense of permanence. I guess nothing really ever goes away. The scary, difficult, traumatic moments leave a mark and it changes us. Like the sand on a beach is changed and reshaped by the waves and tides, the lines on my face are like sand after a rogue wave. The wave has gone, but the sand is different. I do not hate you forehead wrinkles. You remind me that those memories of grief and trauma did not kill me. Yes, they changed me and let a mark, but I survived. I accept you as part of my story; part of my body. You represent struggle and hardship. But without you, I wouldn’t know victory, stamina or success. I wouldn’t know freedom and peace. I will massage you gently with night cream and hope for sweet dreams, but I do not hate you. You are part of me and I love you.
The lavender-colored scar just beneath my breast tells the story of a sobering lump removal; holding my breath – unsure of biopsy results when I was just 18 years old. But the scar reminds me all was well, all is well, and I am grateful for my health and my breasts everyday since. I am also grateful to have had these breasts with which I fed my babies. All those years I hated them for never growing up. I’m so sorry. I never should have scolded you, it was cruel. All the times I looked in the mirror and hated my body because I didn’t have more of what I thought would make me beautiful. I was wrong. And to all the boys who measured my worth and desirability by my cup size – fuck you. You all were wrong. My breasts, you still gave, you sacrificed so much despite the years of hatred I flung at you. It was wrong. I was wrong. The boys were wrong. The magazines were wrong. The sexualization of large breasts is wrong. To the one who made me keep my shirt on when we made love because he said my breasts turned him off – he was wrong. I’m sorry I listened to him. I’m sorry I wasn’t proud of you. I’m sorry I didn’t defend you. I am no longer ashamed of you. I am no longer masking or hiding your shape. You nourished my babies and it was wrong of me to criticize you. It was wrong to attach my beauty, worth, or desirability to my cup size. Now I am proud of what I am. The landscape of my chest, forever changed by the gift and honor of childbirth, nursing and age. A monument I am proud of, not ashamed of: my breasts. Perhaps unattractive to some, but altogether perfect, whole and beautiful to me. I accept you as you are. Forgive me for hating you and blaming you for all the shallow losers who passed me up because they couldn’t see your appeal, your natural beauty. I got you girls. You do you. I love you just as you are and I will speak kindly to you and buy you pretty things to make you feel sexy. You deserve it.
Then there’s the nude colored crooked-smile-like cesarean scar that digs deep into my abdomen and aches when it rains. It aches when I sneeze or exercise. The scar that feels so deep that I think the scalpel must have poked my soul. Peeking up from my bikini line, this monumental scar marks the beginning of the epic story of my brave, half-hearted, angel-haired baby girl. Cut through muscle, tissue, womb and pulled bloody and violently from my body, she breathed her first breath. She lay on my chest to receive her first kiss from my chapped lips; a welcoming; an I love you; a christening before they took her away for her own first surgery. Oh my stretched, weathered, beautiful belly, I do not hate you. Broken with stretch marks; the cracks where my skin stretched so fast with the growth of new life inside. How could I hate you? You did what you did to make room for my greatest treasures. Thank you for your sacrifice. These tracks represent a courage my body had, that my mind did not. The courage to change. The courage to grow and make room. To sacrifice and adjust for a hidden wonder. The unknown. If we have to think about something hard or scary or risky too much, our brains typically don’t want to sacrifice or hurt or sign-up for painful stretching. But my body just went for it. It is so brave. I am so proud of my stretch marks. Acts of courage. I am proud of my cesarean scar. I am proud of my changed belly button and my widened hips. You are all so brave. My beautiful broken skin, so graceful and patient to bring forth the story of me and my children. So brave. So sacrificial.
My kind, beautiful body. I have stopped hating you. I’m sorry it took me so long. Forgive me for my criticism. Forgive me for always comparing you to unrealistic standards. No, you’re not 25 any longer, and you never will be again and that’s ok. I love you now. We are one, you are mine and I am yours. You are a beautiful novel that tells the story of me. The true story of me. All of it integrated: bright smile; deep scars.
I will defend you. I will own you and wear you proudly. We will be free together. Unapologetic and content. I will care for you and take you out and not be ashamed. I will keep my chin up, my shoulders back, and my booty out. I’m sorry it took me so long to see that you’re my friend and you need me to be kind to you. I understand now and I love you just as you are.
I stopped hating my body, y’all.
I stopped allowing society to define beauty for me. I won’t compare my body to other bodies. That’s your body, not my body. Hey, yours looks great! Mine does too! Yay we’re beautiful! I decided that if my heart and mind are allowed to mature and change with time, as they do, why can’t I give permission to my body to mature and change as well? I can and I will. I will no longer compare my body to other people’s bodies, my past body, or put unreal expectations on it to be what it isn’t. I will nurture it and love it today, just as it is.
I also decided that I’m done letting men define beauty. Beauty is so much more than a nice pair of tits, long slender legs, a flat tummy and a bouncy booty. Beauty is not sex and sex is not beauty. Nudity doesn’t have to be sexual. The over-sexualization/stimulation of nudity, tits, and booty are the driving force behind most women perpetually criticizing and hating what they have. Yet these things are defined as beautiful or sexual – BY MEN. WTF? Let’s make our own definition of beauty, ladies! Also, sex is not love. A man may want to have sex with you because you got that fine ass and perky boobs, but that doesn’t mean he loves you. And then you get your panties in a wad because men objectify you. Hold the phone y’all. If you don’t wanna be objectified, then define beauty for yourself. If you know he only wants you for your rack, please reconsider giving him anymore of your precious time. You’re more than your rack. Make your own rules and speak up if you’re objectified. Tell them they’re wrong and they can’t speak to you that way. I do it all the time. If you need to talk to someone because you don’t know that your worth is more than your body, please email me. I’m serious.
For me, the most beautiful people I know are the ones who wear their heart on their sleeve. The ones who have been through some serious shit and somehow come out the other end WOKE, stronger, teachable, more forgiving, kinder and empathetic. I think self awareness, compassion, curiosity, empathy and humility are pretty much the most beautiful things that exist. The stripping off of masks and pretense to reveal a soft, honest vulnerability is hella more sexy than nudity. Also words. A brilliantly crafted lyrical bouquet is sexier than anything to me. Male-defined physical beauty is terribly antiquated. No one’s worth is their waist or cup size, hair color or height – that’s just stupid. Think about it. No one’s worth is defined by the car they drive or the size of the house they live in. So why should beauty be defined by Barbie, Kim Kardashian or the porn industry. It’s all fake! Be proud of what you are and what you have. If some bozo in your life makes you feel like your worth is your waist or cup size, please offer them a pair of middle fingers. I’m done letting men define beauty, they’ve done a really shit job.
And if you read my post a few months ago, you already know that I’m done apologizing. I’m not gonna apologize for my face if you show up at my house and I’m not wearing makeup. I’m not gonna apologize if I wear pajamas to the grocery store. I’m not gonna apologize for wearing all black today; it’s on purpose and I like it. I’m not gonna apologize for being me. It’s taken me a long time to like who I am and be comfortable in my skin and not hate my body. So why am I gonna say sorry all the damn time? Now, if I’m rude or I hurt your feelings or am late – yes, I am sorry. But when it comes to me being me, I’m done apologizing.
Why cyclically think or speak ill of the miraculous tapestry of calciums, proteins, cells and atoms that weave together to magically make my face, my hair, my fingertips, my butt? It’s all a perfect miracle. My body, your body, every body’s body. You’re an absolute wonder.
Let’s stop body shaming.
Let’s stop letting someone else define our worth and our beauty.
Let’s make brains the new tits.
Let’s all agree that ANY BODY can be a BIKINI BODY.
Let’s spend more money, time and energy on lasting things that will help change us at our core and in turn help change the world, like counseling, education, health, mental health, science, the environment, and charities instead of continuing to fill the already bulging pockets of the Beauty and Cosmetics Industry.
I stopped hating my body. I did it for me first, and then chose to make it a lifestyle for my daughter and my son. I want to raise my daughter to 100% know and believe she is whole, perfect and beautiful just the way she is. And that beauty is more about who she is inside, what she loves, how she cares, and what magic she emits into the world, than how she looks. I want to raise my son to have a fresh set of standards about beauty that break the antiquated mold. I want to raise him to be a sensitive, caring, empathetic man who sees deeper than skin and never objectifies a woman. I know at this point that my children learn more by what I do than what I say.
This is why I stopped hating my body.
- A woman, halfway through her life, will only achieve half the level of body self-esteem as the average teenage male.
- Research shows that 70% of women feel pressured by media to have a perfect body.
- Only 1 in 7 American women feel body positive (happy with their bodies), and about half feel body negative (dissatisfied with their bodies) or body ambivalent (at peace with their imperfections).
- According to a 2007 study that used MRI technology to monitor brain function, “viewing images – like ones presented by the media – is proven by more than one study to negatively affect healthy cognitive patterns of the audience, which affects the well-being and happiness quotient of the individual.”
- Worse, a study conducted at Bucknell University found that feelings of body-shame may actually be making women physically sick.
- Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.
Annual 2016 revenue for The Beauty and Cosmetic Industry in the US was $62.46 billion dollars, while Americans spent just $68,307 million on education in 2016.
Stop Body Shaming. Love your body. I love you.