“You’ve got your body for life, you might as well learn to get along with it.” ~ Sandy Kumskov
In my previous blog entry Turning Forty, I referred to the fact that I am not always physically comfortable in my own skin. As I was writing that sentence, I just knew that I was going to have to blog about it. Body image issues are a topic I can write extensively about and well, I haven't. I did do an entry back in April about taking responsibility for my health, which was in reference to weight issues, but that has been it.
Truth be told, it has been difficult to consider writing about my relationship with my body until now. There has recently been a shift in my appreciation for the physical appearance of my body. At first I thought it was because I have been taking much better care of myself and it is starting to show. I am seeing muscles that have been buried my whole life. I have lost weight. That being said, I think it is more than that though. I think the bigger shift has been in the way I think about my body.
Except for maybe my hair, I usually don't have a positive thing to say about the image staring back at me in the mirror. I have too many stretch marks (especially since I have never given birth!); WAY too much fat around my middle; arms are too flabby; too much hair in places that I shouldn't...the list goes on and on. Why in God's name do we do this to ourselves? I know that this is not an issue exclusive to me. How many times have we had friends or other people we know criticize their appearance, all the while we are just rolling our eyes because we think they are drop dead gorgeous? Despite the fact that God created this wonderful home for our soul, spirit, or whatever your name for it is, oftentimes all we can see is the imperfections that stare at us from the mirror.
Now though, sometimes I can look in the mirror and actually summon up a positive thought or two. I can think to myself how remarkable it is that my body is still functioning at all after the obscene amount of procedures, toxic medications, and stress it has been through. I look at my eyes and thank them for enduring years of severe dryness; some people actually have eye damage/vision loss from it and I have not. I look at my hands and in them I see the miles they have put on holding the hands of others. I appreciate the heartiness and strength of my feet which for most of my life, have endured much more weight on them then they should have. I look at my chest and I think of the miraculous work my heart has done for me despite it being broken many times, both figuratively and literally. As I give myself a once over every morning (at least once!), I try to remember the times my body has given love and received love.
It's not an easy thing to look at one's (im)perfect body and think of it as anything but flawed but like they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For now, I am going to try and behold the beauty that is my wonderful, strong, and courageous body.