By Alysha Herrmann
Last month I said I’d talk about the ‘turning point’ for me in learning to love and accept my body. But I actually told a bit of a fib. That’s not *exactly* what I’m going to share. I can’t talk about the turning point, because I didn’t win the war with my body.
My body is not a static, unchanging experience.
My body has grown two children. It has fluctuated in dress size, in fitness, in muscle tone, in appearance. I have new scars, freckles and moles. My dress sense has changed as my life (and confidence) has changed. My hair colour and style is an ongoing party.
I didn’t win the war against my body because I am my body. Because my body changes and so do I. Instead, I have (tried to) embraced honesty with myself. I have (tried to) embraced self-reflection and the process of asking myself – why?
Why do I find my body lacking?
Why do I measure my body against a narrow and media defined beauty standard?
Why do I tie my body to the sexual desire of others?
Why do I punish my body and soul for failing these arbitrary standards?
Why do I de-value the experience and strength of my body?
Why have I sought aesthetic beauty and in doing so made my body, heart and soul sick on many occasions?
Why? Why? Why?
And somewhere within exploring these whys, I’ve found a healthy tension between seeking improvement and loving what is – and discovering that I want and need both. And that’s okay. It really is okay. My body is not a static, unchanging experience. My body is a lesson. A lesson in gratitude. A lesson in humility. A lesson in honesty. A lesson in love. There are days when I love my body, it’s shapes and curves and aesthetics. There are days when all I can see is how far I am from the ideal presented to us in the media. There are days when I don’t even really notice my body.
My daughter will be six weeks old this Saturday. She came into the world on Easter Saturday after a very painful but uncomplicated labour. My strong, powerful and healthy body brought both of us safely through that experience. And as I’ve nursed her over the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about the body messages I want to give her. The way she’ll feel when she looks in the mirror. I have years to figure out what I want to say to her and years to continue shaping how I role model the lessons I hope she learns but here are some early thoughts for her (and for you, reading this):
- You are glorious. Glorious and powerful beyond your believed boundaries.
- Your body (and your life) belongs to you. Keep exploring and decide which adventures you want to deepen. And which you want to discard. Choose deliberately.
- Whatever else you do, care for your body, it is the vessel carrying you through your life. Make it last and enjoy what it can do – if you let it – bodies are fun!
- I cannot give you the answers. I cannot erase the doubts, the fears, the pain you will encounter – but I will be here. To hold you. To listen. To make you cups of tea.
Turn these corners.
Fold them in to,
What’s your favourite body positive message or piece of advice?
Alysha Herrmann is a writer and performance maker from South Australia. She blogs about her creative life at http://alyshaherrmann.wordpress.com and tweets mini poems as @lylyee on Twitter.