It’s National Eating Disorder Week. While I’ve never been diagnosed with a full-fledged disorder, I have had my struggles with my body—I don’t know many women who haven’t—and I think, this week more than ever, our bodies are due for some proper acknowledgment. Here’s mine.
Dear Awesome Bod,
We’ve had our share of issues. As much as I’d like to think everything’s cool between us after all these years, you and I both know that I totally shamed you last night after I devoured a platter of nachos. Sorry about that. Lately there are fewer and fewer of those shaming moments, which is a good thing. Gone are the days of wishing I had one of those celeb bobblehead bodies, including the desire for an exposed rib cage, bony hips and an overt clavicle. But, like any relationship worth keeping, it’s a process. We have our ups and downs—sometimes the mirror is our friend, and sometimes it’s more devastating than the unexpected appearance of an ex-boyfriend at a party. As I get older and become more accepting of myself as a whole, I become more accepting of you, the overall sum of your parts, and the parts themselves. It’s a very healing and awesome place to live, but we didn’t get here without some bumps along the way (yes, even the cellulite sort). I’d like to apologize for making you feel less- than and pay tribute to what makes you great, from head-to-toe.
Hair: I’ve dyed, fried and cut you, all in the name of beauty and/or finding myself, so thanks for putting up with that shit. I admit you were blonder for way longer than you should have been, and the “Rachel” was not the most flattering style for us. And I’m sorry for the Winona “Alien Resurrection” Ryder pixie cut we tried back in grade 10. I’m further sorry that ignorant twits called it a “dyke cut” and that I let it make me feel ashamed. The truth is, as Our Lady J. Law has since proved, it was a gorgeous cut; we were just way ahead of our time.
Eyebrows, I fucked you up. You had that Keira Knightley/Cara Delevingne intense, full swag, but instead I thought you were too thick, so I let you into the hands of a tweezer-happy esthetician eight years ago and we’ve been growing them back ever since. I’m so sorry for not appreciating you as you were.
Thank you, Teeth. Thank you for two years of braces, one year of wearing headgear and ten-plus years (and counting) of wearing a retainer (not including the permanent one on your bottom row). Without your perseverance, I would be a woman who hated her smile and a David Letterman smile-a-like, unable to close her mouth while she chewed.
Oh, Chin. We have a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I think you’re too long, too curved, too Reese Witherspoon-y. Then I see photographs of my great-grandfather and I recognize a familiar jawline, reminding me that you are a living artifact connecting me to a unique history, and a person that I call family, and I am grateful.
And yes, Boobs, I’ve wanted you to be bigger. It burns me to admit that when I wished you were more than your barely-out-of-training-bra size, it was because I thought I wasn’t sexy enough. Maybe it’s because of this pornified world of ours, but I thought having a ginormous rack would serve me well in the love department. Turns out you can motorboat an A cup just fine. You’re doing great.
Sorry, Tummy, for poisoning you by over-consuming alcohol, especially during freshman year when my drink of choice was a Long Island Iced Tea (gross). You knew better, but I refused to listen despite the many Friday nights we babysat the toilet. Oh, and remember when we tried the Atkins Diet? Sorry about that one, too. Though I can’t say a diet consisting of butter and bacon was tempting, the lightheadedness was a drag, and I know you desired more because, well, bread rules. Also, anything with the word “die” in it obviously restricts anyone from truly living.
OK, Butt ‘n Thighs, your turn. You two have made me the most annoyed/frustrated over the years. Butt, I never knew what to do with you. You aren’t a typical white girl pancake butt, so I was not only self-conscious about you but also confused: do I make you smaller or bigger? I subjected you to millions of squats and weird Tracy Anderson “transformative” exercises. I wondered more about what “looked” good rather than what “felt” good to me. I finally know that you can’t have the former without the latter, not really.
And Thighs, I’m sorry for not accepting you as you are. I always wanted teeny tiny chicken leg thighs, even though chickens are the least sexy of all the birds. I hated that you were a bit on the curvier side and that no matter how many lunges I grimaced my way through, you’d rather tone than trim. But now I realize your strength, and how much you make me look and feel like a woman, so thank you for that.
And, Vagina. You champ, you. How you manage to still get through bi-monthly Brazilian waxes after fifteen years is a testament to the power you truly possess. Major props, girl. Major. Props.
So, you see, Body, I appreciate you. Because I realize that bodies are for more than just looking good. To conceive of my body as something simply to be looked at, or to look at, makes you an object. You are a living, breathing entity. You have taken me to different countries, connected me with dear friends and lovers, and helped me to live out my dreams. And, maybe, one day you will even help carry new life. So I thank you for being active, strong and beautiful; and, most importantly, something to be proud of.
Love and gratitude,