1995 - Age 11 Dear Body, I wish you had let me know sooner. How could I have been running around without a care in the world all these years? How could I not have realized? I must have looked so stupid, acting as though everything was just fine. You see, I’ve been noticing fashion magazines - the kind with glossy pages full of beautiful women, flaunting tiny waists, slender thighs, petite ankles, dainty little toes. And it struck me at school today that some of the girls in my class are beginning to look like those models. But me? My belly curves slightly outward. My thighs are too thick, my hips too broad, my feet too wide. The blinders have fallen from my eyes, and I can see now that I am all wrong. I can’t believe I didn’t notice before now. Thanks for nothing, Body. I hate you.
1999 - Age 15 Dear Body, Why won’t you let me at least wear shorts in this August heat? All the other girls are in swimsuits at the pool, and here I am, sweating half to death in my baggy jeans and oversized men’s shirt - the armor I must wear in my battle against you. My parents’ medical encyclopedia says I’m at a normal weight for my height. I know this because I am constantly stepping on the scale, then comparing the number to the charts in the back of the book. But every time I look in the mirror, I can’t seem to reconcile what I know with what I feel. You’re disgusting, Body. I hate you.
2008 - Age 24 Dear Body,
Look, I’m sorry you’re lightheaded, but you’ve brought this upon yourself. I mean, I work out all the time, and I’ve limited myself to 1200 calories a day - why are you not perfect yet?
Sure, my rib cage is clearly visible beneath my breasts, and my collarbones stick out like pencils - but my stomach still isn’t entirely flat. I’m wearing a size two, and people have gently suggested that I’m looking a bit too thin - but I still have a posterior dappled with cellulite.
These imperfections dwarf everything else. As long as they are there, I will never be good enough. Don’t you know this? I suppose I should have pushed myself harder at the gym today. I’ll have to skip dinner.
You don’t deserve nourishment, Body. I hate you.
2017 - Age 33 Dear Body,
The strangest thing happened today.
I stood before the mirror, naked, expecting the same old feelings of shame, of hatred toward you. And why not? You’ve expanded. You’ve grown. I’ve spent so many hours cursing you for the new heft of my belly, the fullness of my face, the way my upper arms jiggle. Big butt, thunder thighs, pudgy knees. Even my feet have gotten fat - and I’ve hated you for it.
I looked at my reflection - not in scrutiny, just a passing glance on my way into the shower - and something shifted. For a split second, it was as though I was seeing someone else.
I saw a woman. A woman with lustrous hair and striking eyes and lovely breasts and dramatic curves and voluptuous rolls around her midsection. And the word that came to mind, in that unguarded moment, was….beautiful.
It took a second before I realized I was looking at myself.
Body, I haven’t truly thought of myself as beautiful in over twenty years - no matter how thin I got. Now, here I am, 130 pounds above my “ideal” weight - and I’ve somehow mistaken you for a thing of beauty.
Maybe…maybe you are.
You’ve given me the sensations of the warm sun, a cool breeze, the ocean tugging at my toes and the sand shifting beneath my feet. You’ve given me the ability to laugh, to smile, to embrace the ones I love.
You’ve stuck with me all these years, despite the terrible things I’ve said to you - and you’ve always been there for me.
For these reasons, and many more, you are beautiful.
So today I hold my head high, stand tall, and say what I should have said, long ago.
Dear Body…I love you.