• MReid

"Love your body"

People on the internet tell you that the remedy to your postpartum discord (they never say how long it's allowed to last) is to love your body.

They say "love your body" the way that maybe a Christian person would say you have to "love your enemies," and the bulge of your stomach is now your enemy, so you guess the idea makes sense.

The directive feels empty, pointedly positive as though love is only roses, soft perfume, cushion. Anyone who knows anything knows love can be all of those things, but can also be depth, fire, death. You wonder if the people on the internet know anything that is not tinged with fragrance.

So you try to love your body the way you know how. You are tired of your skinny-fit jeans slipping down and exposing the top of your ass; this isn't 2002, and you are tired of having to jump to pull them up. You take your body shopping; you know you aren't the same size as your old body, even though all you can remember is the old way your body slipped into skinny jeans. When the first pair don't fit, you pull a size bigger than the bigger size you pulled, and a size even bigger than the first bigger size. You fit the third biggest size and you don't know how to feel, then or later, when you no longer fit the third biggest size.

You remember being a kid at the fair, how easy it was to bum a prize off the barkers by jumping on the scale and having them guess your weight. You were all limbs and legs, and they could never guess the actual number because, you recall proudly thinking, your weight was heavier than you would ever look because of how tall and skinny you were. You are still tall now, and 100 pounds heavier than you were when you jumped on that scale, proud then at the confusion your body could cause. You would never trade stepping on a scale now for the chance to win a huge Tweety Bird. You highly doubt your weight would be sussed out, still, but that's because of people and their biases, and the fact that people at a fair are probably shit guessers. Not to mention there are too many things to consider, now: making weight and appearance the subject of a game, the owner of that game being a man (you only remember barkers at the fair being grizzly, world weary-looking men) who gets to stare at your body and offer you a prize for it, the fact that your affection for Tweety Bird didn't make it out of the beginnings of high school.

People have very strict ideas in their minds about what fat looks like. Of what constitutes a healthy body, or a thin body. All bodies, you are told, are to be celebrated. You are at a strange intersection. You can not call your body fat, though medically it has been deemed overweight, obese even. You do not have extra skin you can pull away from your body. Your stomach, the place an internet person would probably tell you to love most of all, because it held your babies even though none of this language is anatomically correct, doesn't really hang; you're not really in danger, you've been told. Even though they have seen your old body, they do not know what it is like to have grown up inside of your body, naturally thin in a way that was never celebrated, but never bemoaned, either. You ask yourself if you've ever actually been grateful for your body, but stop short, because you already know the answer.

So you show gratitude for your body the way you have learned how. You stay in the shower for thirty minutes every night. Sometimes you talk to Spirit, sometimes you pray, sometimes you say nothing at all. Sometimes, when particularly moved, you sing. You touch your body and feel it hum, your breath quickening into a melody. You rub the thin scar that now defines your lower half from the top and remember how your body, fresh from your child being pulled out of you, coming down off of anesthesia, began to shake. Your teeth clanked together as you vibrated as if your bones had been placed in a deep freezer and brought out again. Through the mental fog, you marveled at how your body didn't need your permission to be a body.

You allow your body to spend entire days as at rest as it can be. You allow it to not produce, to not write, to stay quiet until it wants to speak. You have stopped trying to feed it things it doesn't like, like brown rice and quinoa. You have stopped forcing it to respond when it doesn't want to. You have stopped forcing it to chase the people and things that offer only hollow pleasures. You have come to this place slowly, but every day you are allowing your body to be whatever your body wants to be, who it is. And that, you think, is more like what love actually is, rather than telling it all day that it's okay, that you're okay with it, that it's cool, it's still loved, it's still valued--

because your body never needed these things from you. It doesn't need your love to function. Your body has been waiting for you to take the pressure off, to look in the mirror, to see its pooch, to see its cellulite, to understand that this is not a permanent place, and that even if it was, it is your job merely to accept it. This is what it is. It is a body. It is but clothing for your soul. There is no standard for your body because you are the only one with your body.

You remember the fact that 100 pounds ago, you still weren't satisfied with your body, still couldn't look upon it as a miracle even when your stomach was flat enough to squeeze into skinny jeans that didn't show the top of your ass to anyone when you moved. All you have ever known of your body is your own self-scrutiny. And so, you wonder, what will happen if you just let your body be?

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