12 Things That My Imperfect Body Has Taught Me About Myself
My body and I, we've seen our fair share of rain.
We've weathered the storms together, however begrudgingly, and sat side-by-side through some of life's toughest surf. We've grinned and bore it, smiled and got along while the cameras flashed and then behind the scenes, we waged silent war against one another, sometimes with actions, but more often than not, with words.
We've toured the highs and lows together. We've been each other's only confidant, worn the White Hat and been both enemy and friend. We've reconciled the fact that we won't ever have the size 2 waist, done crunch and crunch, tried our best to stay far from body-shaming. And though sometimes we failed a lot and sometimes we failed only a little, we remembered that in the end, it's still just about us.
Our relationships with our bodies is the first one we form, long before we take those amazing first glances at mom and dad just minutes after birth, long before we look into the eyes of a lover and find ourselves looking right back.
They're the relationships we take for granted most, always looking back and saying, “I should have…” and “Why didn't I…” when we had the chance. Our bodies are the only things keeping us above the ground rather than in it, or under it, or, well, off it.
Our bodies are our resting place, both in the beginning, the middle and the end. They are everything – and they are perfectly imperfect.
They're so flawed, in fact, that we learn to love and hate the imperfections. We shudder and celebrate them, proud that we have six freckles in the shape of an “O” on our forearms, mortified that we have dimples at the base of our backs.
But these things, these little, small consistencies that bind us together, that make us who we are, that are the very essence of everything good and true and brave and smart and beautiful — they are the characteristics we find the hardest to embrace.
It's easy to berate the qualities that we're most haunted by, the ones we overanalyze in photos, stare disgustedly at in the mirror, reflexively reach for and withdraw from; our sparkling minds, fit to burst with expression and opinion, with poise and pity, our painstakingly created bodies, expertly crafted and passionately caressed from day one until day one million – these are worth celebrating. They're worth being proud of.
Why? Because they're ours.
My frizzy hair reminds me just how important it is to be free.
On humid days, I curse the heat and the way my mane so shamelessly shrivels up into a nappy mess on the back of my head. I hate that the bigger it gets, the smaller I feel.
At the same time, I want to applaud its unruly nature, how it strays from the status quo, how it is nothing like any other head of hair I've seen on the subway, the street, the sidewalk, the park.
Much as I try to, it isn't tied down (or tied up), constrained, held down or buried behind anyone or anything. It is entirely its own, free to blow, flow and mangle itself any which way it wants.
My laugh lines remind me how hard I've laughed and how much I've smiled.
They are a reminder of every good, funny, hysterical and happy thing that has happened to me both then and now and much as I might find myself fretting over how they look in pictures, or if they give me Bitchy Resting Face, I know that these lines are the very essence of my beauty.
They reflect just how often I've smiled when I could have cried, how often I've laughed instead of falling straight to pieces and just how many times I've let hysterical tears guide me toward happiness and out of an endless wading pool of misery.
These narrow shoulders are strong enough to carry the weight of the world.
Day in and day out, the stresses of both the small and big picture sit comfortably perched on my shoulders and though giving in and letting it swallow me whole is always an option, the strength of these narrow little shoulders persists.
They are strong enough and secure enough to keep me afloat, even when I can't swim, even when I'm tired of trying. They are my security, my strength.
My love handles remind me that there's always more to love – even when you can't see it.
Tucked neatly inside a well-loved pair of high-waisted jeans, no one ever has to see 'em, but I know they're there.
And though every day is a constant battle between all of the pizza and cheese and pasta and bread I want to eat, I know exactly where they'll go the minute they leave my lips.
But I also know that, sometimes, the things you can't see are the things you learn to love most. So I treasure the secret, hidden parts of my body, knowing that some day I will revel in just how perfect I was, back when I didn't even know it.
These flabby arms are strong enough to hold me up, even on my weakest days.
They hold up grocery bags, they hold back my hair after a night of one too many, they lift weights, they load, unload and reload laundry, they move boxes, they hold friends, they hold strangers, they hold tightly on to lovers – but most importantly, they keep me up, even when I'm at rock bottom, even when I'm at my lowest. They always seems strong enough to keep me up.
My thicker thighs keep me rooted to the ground.
The world is tough. There's so much to see, to discover, to lose, to gain. These legs, no matter how big, no matter how small, no matter how strong or weak… they keep me firmly planted, two feet on the ground.
They make sure I only go where I want to go – they never take me further than the path that takes me home.
My stomach is the only place beer, cheese, wine, tequila and pasta coincide together peacefully.
Some days it's five pounds too much, others it’s five pounds too little (just kidding, I never have that problem), but my stomach, my tummy, my beer belly, whatever you wish to call it, is the only place on this earth where every one of my favorite food groups, no matter how good or bad for me they may be, can live in harmony and equilibrium. What about that isn't worth celebrating?
These undefined abs have endured morning-after pukes, body shots, crop tops and thousands and thousands of crunches – and yet still, they want more.
And yet somehow, through all of that, they manage to be better, stronger, flatter and flabbier than I ever thought possible. The fact that they continue to allow me the opportunity to fail, succeed, start over and try again is amazing.
My wide feet help me stay balanced, even when I'm scared I might topple over.
They dodge curve ball after curve ball; they duck and cover when it comes to life's craziest lunges – and surprisingly enough, they keep me here, on both feet, standing tall (even when I want to shrink into my toes).
They keep me upright, erect – they give me the courage to stand my ground – there are no other feet on this earth made explicitly for my very wear and tear.
These smaller-than-C-cup boobs are just a reminder that good things come in small packages.
Diamonds, macaroons, mac-n-cheese bites, pizza bagels, just-because greeting cards — they're all little reminders of just how good things really are. I'm pleased, time and time again, to remember that I don't need a D-cup to remind myself of this.
This brain, however inclined to point out failure and to highlight imperfection, is the home of my bravery, my intelligence, my humor, my passions, my excitement and my drive.
It is the birth place of every good, bad, dangerous, creative, inspiring, silly, dumb and passionate idea I've ever had. It is the meeting point of emotion and action, it is where my feelings manifest themselves, the place my decisions embark from.
It is the only place where I am both the most incredibly brilliant person I have ever met and the most perpetually confused person I have ever laid eyes on. It is my Maker. And it is genius.
More important than anything, it's totally and completely mine.
This one very big and very little body, the gatekeeper to my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, insecurities, confusions, realities, organs, veins, blood and beauty, is mine. Just mine. It belongs to no one else, was made for only my use, made to endure my failures and successes, my bravery and my stupidity.
It is the most beautiful gift I have ever been endowed with. It is also the most terrifying. And it was then, is now and forever will be, the most perfectly imperfect amalgamation of me to exist, which makes it pretty damn cool.
Photo via We Heart It
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