"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me."
Well that’s some absolute bullshit. If words were sticks and thoughts were stones, my body would be the victim beaten to a pulp from a hate crime. I bet that most people can relate.
In this day and age, words have such an impact on people’s mental health and body image that it causes eating disorders and many mental health issues. The scariest part is that all of the mental effects from words, social media, and body image are becoming more and more common, so much that “…approximately eight million people in the U.S. have anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and related eating disorders” (The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders).
Even though we know that the "body goals" we see today are mostly photoshopped, we still compare ourselves to an excruciatingly detailed level; we can’t seem to help it. We pick apart every single feature of someone, set it up in a harsh comparison to our own bodies and then feel upset and shamed when we don’t have any or some of the features that someone else has because our bodies are surprise, different.
To whoever’s reading this, I’m sure you’ve heard all of what I just said before. Of course you know that almost everything is photoshopped, that we have a sick need to squint at ourselves in the mirror and snarl “you’re not good enough.” And of course, you know that yes, a lot of things surrounding body image today is negative and it needs to stop. And obviously it’s not going to happen with one article or overnight. It’s little steps that need to be taken, one of the first and most important being to apologize to your body; thank it for being strong enough to take what you do and say and still carry you through life. Because without our bodies we would look like this…
And that's horrifying.
So without further ado, here’s a letter to my body.
Let’s start with a long over-due and much needed apology. I am sorry. I am sorry for everything I’ve said to you; none of it has been positive. I’m sorry for every time I’ve denied you food, and I’m sorry for every time I poked, prodded, cut, and scratched at you, telling you that you’re ugly, fat, jiggly, and too big.
I’m sorry to my thighs for despising the way you jiggle when I walk and drive, for hating how you’re riddled with cellulite and how you have no gap between. For groaning every time you chafe when I wear shorts, and for all the days I wear leggings in 90 degree weather because I’m ashamed of what you look like, I apologize. You’ve literally carried me through life. You’ve given me the ability to be the equestrian I am today, and you have given me the strength to run, jump, and play.
I’m sorry for my chest for berating you constantly about how you’re small, how I compare you to every single girl I see and how I’ve let the societal idea that small chests are embarrassing take hold and twist a completely acceptable and normal body trait into my most hated feature. Honestly thank god for your size because if you were any different I’d have more back issues than I have now and I’d get hit in the face every time I rode a horse.
I’m sorry to my hips for every day I look in the mirror and pinch you, immediately following it with a disgusted look. For every time I hike up my pants to cover you from creating an unsightly lump in my figure, and for all the times I stood in the mirror squishing you back to see if I’d be prettier with slimmer hips… you help me dance (even though it might not be good), you help me feel sexy by swaying, and you let me hip check my friends when we’re walking side by side (they go flying and it’s hysterical).
To my stomach, I am especially sorry. You’ve taken most of the beatings. So I am incredibly sorry for every minute that I suck you in so hard I feel like my ribs are going to crack and for the pops that actually have happened. For each time I pull my pants up over you to attempt to keep you contained, and for loathing the way you collapse into rolls when I sit. For standing for hours in front of the mirror, staring, cursing and crying at you, for changing outfits over six times because even though to someone else you look perfectly fine, in my eyes I just see shame and a curve that is considered the height of undesirable in society, I’m sorry. I feel awful for every time I try to hide you, hugging a pillow each time I’m sitting down or placing my purse on my lap to cover you up; you’re normal, strong and you’re not undesirable.
To my face, I am also especially sorry. You’re the thing I spend the most time critiquing and fixing because you’re the one thing I can really change. I’m sorry for every time I’ve made myself late because I felt the need to put on makeup to make you look better because for some strange reason a black line across my eyelid is my rite of passage to walk out the door. I’m sorry for every hour I spend one inch from the mirror cross eyed trying to pluck and pick you into being better and prettier. For every time I’ve covered you in eye makeup because makeup is the one thing that gives me confidence to go out, and for every time I stare at you with anger and disappointment after I take my makeup off because how the hell can I look like that? Thank God I’m one of the only people that has to witness my bare face. For every product I buy in hopes it’ll make you look actually semi-acceptable (even though you’re much more than that), for every type of concealer I’ve used to try and cover up blemishes, I’m sorry. For every time I’ve said I hate how you’re splashed with freckles and moles and how I consider them honestly hideous, how my smile is crooked on the right side, for the roundness of you and for the double chin you have. You’ve given me the ability to show my emotions with your unique way of being very expressive and you’ve allowed me to see, hear, taste and smell.
Body, I’m sorry for constantly comparing you to other people’s, for wishing and praying that you’d look different than how you are, and for berating you so much that you’ve felt nothing but darkness. I regret the scars you hold, the anger you’ve felt, and the frustration that shook you. So, body, thank you for staying strong through all of it. Every insult, every ounce of hate, disgust, anger, sadness, shame, disappointment and judgement I’ve thrown at you, thank you for staying strong. I’m ready to start loving and appreciating you.
I think Tina Fey said it perfectly; “Every girl is expected to have caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a 10 year old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. This is why everyone is struggling” (Tina Fey). We’ve been conditioned to believe that we’re only attractive if we have the perfect body or with whatever traits are considered hot in today’s society. It's time to celebrate body variety. We can't change what we've been given, but it's time to realize that what we have is beautiful. Every person is fighting their own battles. Each person is different and therefore lovely; every curve, mark, scar, lump, freckle and bone is beautiful, and I hope whoever's reading this believes that just a bit more.