I’ve been struggling a lot lately, more than I probably ever have, with body image. My teachers have told me in the past that this is probably a good sign—when we are close to transformation is often when we struggle the most.
It’s funny: I know the most about body dysmorphia and weight gain/loss, and body composition, and the rest of it, than I ever have, and yet my negative self-messages are at an all-time high. Usually, even when I’m not liking my body, I can find something, one thing, I love about myself. My hair is a good one; I have great, thick, healthy hair. But even my hair isn’t doing it for me lately. That, combined with a bunch of changes due to hormones (going off the pill is a bear) is making me feel like the careful equilibrium I’ve maintained over the years is slipping, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Lacy said to me in an email a few weeks ago, “You may just have to accept that you’ve gained weight.” When I first read that, I felt like I’d been punched. What? Accept that I’ve gained weight? No way! That careful web of denial and telling myself “it’s not that bad” have been working for me. It’s comfortable. And furthermore, admitting that would be accepting defeat! But she was on to something, I think, and I’m going to expand on it.
It is only when we can accept where we are right now, and honor our body’s journey, that true change can become possible.
We say this stuff a lot, right? But I think there’s a little holdout voice in everyone that thinks, Oh, yeah, I know, but if I could just do X, if I could just lose X, if I could insert-your-own-adventure-here, I could accept myself.
I have to accept that I’ve gained some weight, but more than that, I need to honor the journey that my body has been through. You know what? We don’t always have control over our bodies. I certainly have no control over these hormones coursing through me. If I have a baby, I most definitely will have very little control over my body’s transformation. As we all get older, we have no damn say in what happens. This weight gain? It’s practice.
It’s practice for letting go. Ultimately, it’s not up to me, what my body becomes. I certainly have some say—I can choose to feed it whole foods, move it in a way that brings me joy, get enough rest to replenish it, and nourish its spirit by honoring it and turning in, rather than tuning out. But—nature has a part to play in this too.
I might have these grandiose ideas about being a size 6, but it may just not be in the cards. It may be more important for me to work not on a perception about who I should be, but on being my best self in any given moment. And that person might be someone whose arms are so ripped from pull-up practice that they hardly fit in her damn blazer. But is that really so important, that blazer? It’s just a thing. What’s important is the journey, the holistic view of a person. My arms, out of context, would bother me. My lame inner voice would default to assuming that I’m a lazy, self-indulgent fatass, who has ever-expanding upper extremities. But I know that I’m an athlete recovering from a Plantaris injury who worked solidly on upper-body strength for 6 weeks, and thus, have biceps that make boys cry.
It’s all about context. We are mothers, weightlifters, single ladies, partnered ladies, yoginis, aerial enthusiasts, roller derby players, older gals, ladies with muscles, and scars, and rolls, and freckles, and all kinds of other rad body parts, that all come together to form strong, awesome, complicated women. (And men. Do men read my blog? Hey dudes, you’ve got bitchin’ bods too.)
So yeah, there may be stuff I wish I could change, but that’s not all there is. I’m not just a walking bunch of goals. I’m a complex, strong, whole person, who’s traveled far to be where she is. And I’m not going to count myself a failure just because my blazer is a little tight today. I’m too smart for that now.