This body. This body tells a story; it has its own narrative, distinct from the chaotic thoughts in my head. It finds its own way, journeys separate to the me I am conscious of, and sets its own pace. No panic or anxiety for this body: it is steady, firm, unwavering.
This body is not young, nor sprightly. It doesn’t move with ease; often it creaks and strains and is ungainly. It doesn’t bounce so much as thud, but its forward motion comes with focus and clarity.
This body is not unblemished: there are age lines on my face, many grey hairs on my head, and scars, wrinkles and pock marks in too many places to mention. This body hasn’t yet seen childbirth, but it owns plenty of stretch marks and cellulite, and deep creases of skin encase the fat beneath.
This body has been sexually assaulted and violated and its youth taken advantage of, but the scars from that don’t show on the outside. It’s also had consensually lustful fingers and mouths explore and caress it, but the secrets within were only shared with those whom I loved.
This body has been operated on, prodded by doctors, explored with medical equipment, and treated with pharmaceuticals, and it’s still not entirely healthy, but then it has kept me alive thus far: it can’t be doing too badly.
This body has had injuries, pain that endures in the background on a good day, and requires a daily question be asked of it: am I pushing too hard? I trust this body will have the answer; it makes its own decisions, choices I have to follow, whether I want to or not.
This body is something I used to feel shame over. Much of my life was spent hating how I looked, wishing I could change my physique, and unable to view my own reflection in the mirror. I have felt ugly and unattractive, and this includes to the people I had crushes on - even the people I was intimate with. Though intellectually I have always known, and tried to accept, that other people’s validation of my appearance or attractiveness shouldn’t matter, it still did. I still cared what people thought of me; even now I do, a little.
This body is not something I have ever displayed; revealing or tight-fitting clothes have never been something I am comfortable dressing in. Throughout my life, this body has been covered in layers of fat and in layers of clothes, both in order to hide my shame and disgust of it.
This body has caused me internal turmoil about my politics - on the one hand reading Fat is a Feminist Issue and knowing that women’s self-hate and body image issues are due to patriarchy and capitalism, yet on the other hand being unable to feel little else but disgust in how I looked. If the personal is the political, how could I, a feminist, be so hypocritical in saying women need to reject patriarchal judgments of their beauty, yet still - privately - questioning my own worth within that?
This body is not, in today’s valuation of female beauty, Internet-perfect. There is no “strong eyebrow game”, no “flawless” smoothness of skin due to youth or expensive foundation, no fancy “eye-liner on fleek”. This body is not glossy, or firm; this is no Instagram fave-worthy photo, filtered and cropped for the best light, best pose, most attractive view. This body is me, moments after finishing a run. This body is drenched in sweat, this face is red, this hair is frizzy and pulled back in an unglamorous, but practical, way. This out-of-breath body is me. Those tired legs are mine. That wet sheen all over me I earned - with this body. This body doesn’t look attractive, in the *heart eyes emoji* sense; it’s just a body, in a spontaneous, badly composed, photo, capturing a moment.
This body I like. This body is strong. This body got me through four miles of running today and afterwards it thanked me for pushing it, even though it was hot outside and mentally I was ready to quit after five minutes. This body powers me - not just in my runs, but through my ongoing defeat of depression: a battle I fight daily. This body allows me thinking time, a space where I can just hear my heart beating and I know: this is it, I am glad to be alive *right now*. This body lets me push it through injury and illness and it still continues on, making me grateful every day that I have two working legs I can run on. This body has shown me that confidence isn’t about being seen as sexy, but in feeling strong; and there is nothing sexier to me than strength and confidence. This body isn’t indestructible, but every day I run using it, I feel better about who I am and have learned to hate myself a little less.
This body in this photo - a photo I am sharing publicly, for all the negativity it might bring - is something I am proud of, finally. It’s my body. Me. Flaws and all. I think I may finally love my body. I think I may finally love me.