Traitorous Thoughts in a Defiant Body

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Art by Fabio Selvatici

Comparison, if I let it, could swallow me whole.

The other day while working out in a group class, I was having fun, bopping around and feeling awesome and strong and fit.

A slim, sports bra and shorts-clad woman in class stopped to rest.

A thought popped into my head while I was doing twisting mountain climbers: I am stronger than you–why am I not that thin? 

Record stop.

Somehow, that calorie-counting, over-exercising, body-shaming ragamuffin I spent most of my life being popped her head out to say hello, be obnoxious, then peace.

All in one thought, I had put down that other woman, myself, my body, and implied that we were both unworthy.

What did this feel like in my body? Like desperation in my chest, like despair in my shoulders. My stomach tightened and my heart dropped with the sensation that it’s not fair and that I will never have that simple, little thing I’ve always wanted. I had forgotten how familiar and horrible the sensation is.

Here’s the thing with sickness: we are not always cured. There is nothing that can make it like it never happened.

Once we have been fractured, we can call our pieces forth and lovingly weave them back together with the finest gold thread. But we still have scars because the fractures still happened. And on auspicious days, our old wounds ache and burn.

That pain remind us that we are healers, and still wounded. That we must still care for those wounds, care for ourselves, as we help others.

It’s not helpful to be horrified at myself, to simply say “No, that’s a wrong way to think.”

I must acknowledge that thought, the broken woman that manufactured that way of thinking. I must inquire why a statement like that is false, inquire what I love about that sister and why our bodies look so different and why they are both perfect.

This body I was divinely gifted is, in a word, defiant.

She defies my mind, who sometimes wants her smaller.

She defies trillions of dollars and millions of people that demand that something is wrong.

She will not be starved, sweated or strained into anything other than what she is.

She is bold when I want to play small. Unapologetic when I’m afraid to be.

This belly is soft, these thighs are strong, this booty is magnificent. This is the body that allows me to do my finest work, hone my craft, walk my path.

Hers is too. Yours is too.

 


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