My body is for carrying

In a Facebook group I’m a part of, a woman asked that we post pictures of our “perfectly imperfect” selves, pictures from our recent lives, because our bodies from ten or twenty years ago aren’t serving us now. In fact, she said, “your best body is the one you have carrying you through life TODAY. “

This body belongs.

My best body, the one I’m in today, is not what I want it to be. If you ever see me out and I don’t look put together, it’s probably because I haven’t looked in the mirror recently. I don’t. Because then I would see what she termed my “best body” looking back at me, and I might see it from an angle I don’t want to see. I know exactly how to stand so that I can’t actually see all of me. Maybe I’ll check to make sure my lipstick is on straight, but I don’t actually look at my whole self. So when I do catch my reflection in a mirror I’m not used to, one where I see more of my body than just the sliver I allow myself to look at, I’m honestly shocked to find that I’m fat. It’s not that I don’t know that, but normally I just get on with my day and forget it. It’s not central to how I think of myself until I have to face the evidence.

I am now practicing seeing my best body, the one carrying me through life today, through other people’s eyes. They see all of me and don’t seem to try to just focus on one part and ignore the rest.

(I don’t trust my own eyes, because all they see are flaws: too big, too curvy, eye squinks up like Pop-eye when I smile, smile too big, hair starting to gray.)

I’m practicing using their eyes until I can trust my own again. My husband sees me and says I’m beautiful. My children see the person they love to lean against as we read or sit on the porch swing. They see the person who laughs loudly, who drives to practices and away games, who always thinks it’s time for ice cream. Their eyes see beauty.

My best body, the one I’m in today, is strong. It has carried three babies, holding them and nurturing them until they entered the world. And then it has carried them, holding them and nurturing them in new ways as they entered the world. It has carried me through grad school, through dissertation, through jobs, through tenure. It has carried my own stress, and the sorrows of others. It has carried me through three surgeries in the past four years. It has carried; it is carrying.

It is carrying me through life today. And it is good.

10 thoughts on “My body is for carrying

  1. As someone who has recently gained… I don’t want to accept how many pounds… I totally get where you’re coming from in this piece! I understand that “don’t look in the mirror” feeling, and it is not nice. I hope you can love the body you are in! Because it sounds to me that your life is rich with love and you deserve to return that love to yourself. 🙂

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  2. Ah, body image issues… They plague us all. Trying to see myself through others’ eyes has been something I’ve struggled with for years. It sounds like you’re embracing who you are at this moment, kudos to you!!

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  3. You brought us along with you on your journey to find your best self. I feel this. I’m older than you are, so I mentally emphasize function over form. My body is still mobile and strong, and this is enough.

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  4. This is such a difficult topic, Diana. We’re all so trained to see our bodies a particular way, or to hold particular standards as our ideals. Retraining those thoughts takes so much time and work. I think your second last paragraph really contained the essence of where you’re at right now. It was strong and clear, and showed your appreciation for functionality over form — which is important given that we’re all different sizes and shapes (from each other, and also as we move through the years), and we all deserve to be accepted and loved wherever we’re at.

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  5. “I’m practicing using their eyes until I can trust my own” – yes! Love this. Superficial beauty is overrated anyway. I’ll take strong, healthy, and happy over “model pretty” any day of the week.

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