at age nine i awakened to this body i live in and to the eyes watching it.
for years i shared a strange, tense, tumultuous relationships with my body. i beat it up, ignored it. i criticized, critiqued, and compared it. i loved it only when it behaved well and looked a certain way. i saw myself as just a body, not a person inhabiting a sacred space.
i spiraled so deep into body hatred the prize i received was a wicked eating disorder, disrupting and ruining the light in my life for four years.
eventually i sought help to solve the problem. through the support of therapists, my family, a few friends, and a slow dedication, i healed my relationship with my body. i came to love and appreciate this beautiful vessel at my heaviest. from this love came acceptance and from acceptance came physical and emotional health. the excess weight i carried melted off in the past year or so as did the nasty, horrid attitude i held against my body.
i truly very rarely notice or care about my weight and the way my body looks. i care only of how i feel and, currently, i feel pretty fantastic in my own skin. there is certainly something about your body taking care of you if you take care of it! it is a love relationship, like any other relationship, requiring daily practices and dedication.
however, the more comfortability i gain in my body, the more i notice an interesting pattern in the way the outside world views and treats my body.
since puberty my body has attracted a lot of attention. there is a discomfort here, where it seems my body is constantly up for review from peers and strangers, like i am an art display for people to comment on.
what i am challenged to accept and let go of are the many comments made without my wanting them to be so. i understand we live in a body-conscious culture and that most of what is said is meant as a compliment but i am having a difficult time swallowing this fact.
people stare, walk their eyes over my body, tell me i am skinny, getting skinner, that i look great. my breasts attract a lot of curious eyes, especially during conversation. people comment on my legs, my hair, my face, my belly. it all sounds nice and like a westerner’s dream but i sometimes wonder if this is the only part of me people see. after all, i am a person — not a body.
occasionally the comments i get are laced with a strange sense of envy and competition — “you are so curvy but you are still skinny!” “look at you and your yoga body!” — as if my body is ideal and beauty is not found in all bodies (it is).
i cannot tell you how uncomfortable it makes me.
i don’t diet. i don’t exercise in a traditional manner. i eat the foods that make me feel good. this includes chocolate and cake because it makes the me inside of my body happy. i don’t restrict anything besides meat because i don’t care for it. i hula hoop, rock climb, and do yoga because movement feels like a gift to my self and my body. it feels like respect. i am not working to achieve any “ideal” body — i am working to feel connected to my self.
i talk very little about my body, weight, and food. i spent so much time obsessing and fantasizing over it, i see very little purpose in talking about it now. if i do, it is in relation to teaching — to provide an opening onto the path of body-love for whoever may need assistance.
occasionally i feel guilty for wearing certain clothes, ones that may showcase parts of my body that attract a lot of attention. i get cat called if i wear shorts or tank tops and i get stared at if i wear tight jeans or spandex. i am not asking for this. i am merely trying to live peacefully. but i don’t want to hide my body to hide from the eyes and comments of other people.
so what i think i am saying here is perhaps, the next time you are compelled to tell a person how good or skinny or beautiful she or he looks, consider how her or his past or present might look. maybe this person spends a lot of time fixated on her body, on how she doesn’t like it. maybe this person wants to be noticed for others things, like her funny jokes or talents.
i think what i am saying is maybe start noticing the person beyond the body. we are taught that the body is the only thing that matters. maybe if we chose to rebuff that and focus on the pieces that matter just as much like soul and heart, our relationships with bodies might change or, better yet, heal.
namaste, beautiful people.