I Don’t Hate My Body, And Neither Do You

As I grow older, I have a definite tendency to become more health conscious. As children we were always active and our parents fed us mindfully, but the last six or so years have found me giving up meat, taking up running and practicing yoga. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve accepted the fact that weight and health don’t have to be correlated. At my skinniest, I’ve not necessarily been my healthiest, and vice versa.

The irony of life, perhaps specifically the lives of women in Western culture, is that we spend what should be the most carefree, high metabolism times of our lives, a.k.a. the living hell that is adolescence, hating our bodies and worrying about what we eat. I look back at myself at 16 and realize that not only was I pretty and fit in that awkward terrible fashion/bad hair way, but that I probably could have subsisted solely on cupcakes and pats of butter without having much of an effect on my dress size. Even friends of mine who didn’t have the metabolism of a field mouse in high school had a youthful glow on those pimply cheeks and innocent smiles that even braces couldn’t obscure. Now, years later, we use makeup and teeth whiteners to try and replicate that natural beauty.

We all nod knowingly when we hear ‘youth is wasted on the young,’ but it seems painfully poignant when I see my peers today finding themselves with an acceptance and even respect for their figures despite the real or perceived flaws. We dress to our body shape, we go to the gym, we buy Spanx and watch our portion sizes. We have moments of pizza-induced weakness and thigh-loathing, but overall we realize we are not, nor will we ever be, the genetic freak that is Heidi Klum. We flaunt what we have, whether it be breasts, bum, clavicle or calves, and we strategically camouflage the other bits.

I can’t speak for all of us, but as I see 30 in my future and realize 20 isn’t even visible in my rear view mirror anymore, I work on seeing myself as a constantly perfected work-in-progress. I don’t mean that to sound conceited, but I think many a man would be shocked and women would be saddened if we truly added up the time spent worrying about our flaws. Sure, I’d love to be a little thinner in the area I refer to as between-the-belly-button-and-knees, but mostly I just want to fit into my favorite jeans for a few more years and live as long as possible. The 27-year old me, unlike the 16-year old me, realizes that the primary purpose of my body is not to provide eye-candy for men or to serve as a mannequin for tiny t-shirts. Even with so few years logged in, I’ve seen women beat cancer, battle M.S., birth children with great ease, birth children with great difficulty, run marathons, care for loved ones and stay standing through it all. If I’m having a good day and turn a few heads, I won’t complain. But our bodies clearly have a higher purpose than pleasing men (or women, for that matter).

I can’t get back the time I spent as a teen hating my body. I also, unfortunately, can’t get back the time spent watching ‘Speed’ repeatedly just to let Keanu make my palms all sweaty. Or those hours wasted bawling to Jewel when my first boyfriend dumped me. The point is, I’ve learned my lesson. From now on I, nay WE, will accept our lumps, be more forgiving of both real and imagined cellulite and/or hair on the upper lip. After all, life is bigger that that…and we have self-tanner and wax to deal with the other matters!


9 thoughts on “I Don’t Hate My Body, And Neither Do You

  1. this was great to read- why havent you written more commentary pieces for outlets besides blogs? good stuff.i had speed memorized btw. and i was just thinking on the bus- i dont want to bleech my lip anymore, i dont want to shave. why am i? for who? its a passive bondage- want to break free- lanatto

  2. Well-written, Lane. It’s nice that we’re all finally coming into that stage of acceptance rather than obsession with fixing the “problems.” I think unfortunately, other women are often part of the problem with body-image. In a perfect world, women would support and honor each other rather than tear each other down and encourage negative obsessive behavior.

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