“This mulatto, wild-haired, freckled, curvy thing drowning in a sea of white, blonde, skinny and perfect. You never stood a chance.”
It’s so easy for me to talk about all the things I don’t like about you. I could do that without even thinking. Thighs. Stomach. Skin. Hair. Teeth. Feet. Fingernails. There’s always something, isn’t there? Something you are doing wrong. Something I can’t wait to tear down and criticize and be disgusted with. Something I absolutely cannot stand about you.
Because I’ve always wanted to change you. Because I’ve never known you to be synonymous with beauty. Because no one around me that was beautiful ever looked like you. This mulatto, wild-haired, freckled, curvy thing drowning in a sea of white, blonde, skinny and perfect. You never stood a chance.
But please trust me when I say that I was wrong about you. So wrong. I projected my insecurities onto you. I wasted so much time loathing you and cursing you. I spilled tears and ugly words all over you. I tore off little pieces of my heart and gave them to any guy that would tell me all the things about you that I never believed.
What I did believe were the lies in the changing of channels, the turning of glossy pages, the constant barrage of images and not-so-subliminal messages that told me I would never be good enough as long as I was in this body. And I hated you for it.
But despite my cruelty and disrespect you have been so gracious. And you have given me so much.”
These legs that I always thought were too long. That have walked along the Great Wall of China. That have hoisted you up onto the back of a camel at the base of the Pyramids of Giza. That have wandered through the gardens at Versailles and stood under the Eiffel Tower.”
These hips that I always thought were too wide. That have stayed up all hours of the night dancing with abandon. That will one day balance my babies as I attempt to be superwoman. That make me feel like a goddess in a tight dress.
These lips that I always thought were too full. That have spoken truth and wisdom and counsel when needed. That have whispered confessions of love in the dark. That responded to the call, “You may now kiss the bride.”
This stomach that I always thought was too big. That still gets butterflies when my husband looks at me that way. That feels so good when I can’t stop laughing. That will one day make room for another life.
This blood that I always thought was too confusing. That is on the right side of history. That is a testament to courage and justice and redemption. That allows my heart to beat with some and bleed for others.
I look in the mirror and I don’t see perfection. But I see you. And that’s enough for me. And I have this husband now. He looks at you and smiles at you and wants you and praises you and affirms all the things about you that I should have known all along: that you are wonderful and rebellious and strong and unmistakeably beautiful.
This body. My body. That was formed from dust and breath and love. We have only just begun.
Plus More of What We #Love
On bodies like Datsuns + saving the bacon + squeezing Grandma’s hand + beauty scars + body parts that give comfort. We know, we are learning: this body, this temple, it is good. More excerpts from the beautiful submissions to our Love Letter to My Body synchroblog.
“I was thinking that if my body was a car, it’d be more like a bomby Datsun than a classy sports car; the type of car you can accidentally scrape and bump without getting too upset about it. But I prefer to think of my body–the outside at least (the inside’s all temple, man)–as a mixed media artwork; ink prints and etches and stretches in skin. Each mark adding to the story of my life: my tattoos speaking of my love for Jesus and language and music and family, my adventurous scars telling tales of minor mishaps and major injuries, my stretch marks repeatedly marvelling: “I was once a home!”
I grew a little person inside of me! See here, I am proof!” And my body will continue to change with time, my artwork one day topped with a mop of grey which will say, in its wise old voice, “I have lived long enough to learn a few things,” and my face, wrinkled with wise old lines, will add, “I have laughed a lot!”
Read Belle’s full post here.
“I’m trying to take care of you, so we can grow old together. I’ll try to save bacon for the very special moments and feed you more vegetables. But I don’t think I’ll be giving up ice cream any time soon. Let’s go running and biking and to jazzercise to dance our heart out. I’ll wear sunscreen when I’m at the lake, even though I really want a glowing tan.”
Read Kelly’s full post here.
“That scar, maybe it means that Love lives in you. Those lines, maybe they mean we have laughed hard and smiled at strangers. That cellulite, maybe it marks feasts and celebrations with family & friends, babies carried and born, wine and joy and chocolate licked off beaters and not ignorance or shame. What if the curve of our hip and rounded waist are the wondrous mark of a life gifted with plenty and not lack?”
Read Rachel’s full post here.
“So instead, I’ll tell you that from the first, I loved you. You gave me comfort. Thumb in the mouth, finger in the bellybutton. My classic move; part comfort, part people blocker. Introversion starts early.”
Read Jenn’s full post here.
Read Mary’s full post here.
“I remember how it felt in the midst of all of those questions, when she squeezed your hand three times, in a slow and gentle rhythm, as if to say ‘I love you’ one last time. I remember the tears of joy streaming down your cheeks, and the comfort of knowing that as fragile as life in this body may be, the best is yet to come.”
Read the rest of Meg’s post here.
We’d LOVE it if you join us tomorrow from 1-2pm PST for a Twitter party, so we can REALLY talk about these Love Letters--what happened in us, why it was hard (or not), what’s shifted since and where do we go from here? We also have really great giveaways. Follow the conversation via the hashtag #shelovesmag and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @shelovesmag. We’d love to see you!
Image credit: Hair, by Juan Hurtado