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June 11, 2014

A Love Letter to My Body. {Video}

male:female with rose tattoos

Dearest,

The first thing I need to say to you is I am sorry.

I am sorry for criticizing and denigrating and hating the vessel that I received, at birth, as a passport into this world.

I have looked in bathroom mirrors as though they were hung in a fun house. I have pulled the skin from my hips and belly and told myself that I was worth less because I gained a few pounds.

I have starved myself down to a ghost of myself, all bones and teeth and whites of eyes.

There were days when I only consumed coffee, alcohol and cigarettes.
There were days when I wrote down everything I ate and decided on if I would eat the next day depending on if I “passed” or “failed.”

I told myself I’d only be seen naked once I’d earned a six-pack.

And when my depression took hold, it knew it could always find me at “Body Insecurity Lane”: I kept a house there and visited often. It was mud-coloured and small on the inside and it smelled of a girl who laid on her bed in a shut room and cried.

I was never right. I was never enough.

What made it more confusing was that within my hatred there was a part of me fighting so hard against it. I read a lot of body-positive pieces in magazines, listened to body-positive music and saw a lot of body-positive art and I felt badly that I was not quite there.

I felt ashamed that  I couldn’t wear you comfortably—that I’d never been able to wear you comfortably.

Then all of a sudden, something started to shift. It was a confluence of things: years of trying to get there. Reading a book that reminded me that everyone has appetites.

Listening to a talk on the power of vulnerability and how poor body image can cause us to want to remain invisible—how poor body image can reduce us to less than we are supposed to be.

And I thought: no. I will not end up, at the end of my life, as being less than what I should have been just because I couldn’t figure out how to love myself.

You have always been basically healthy (give or take a few “factory defects” as I’ve taken to calling them). Thank you for being remarkably cold and flu resistant.

Thank you for being strong—you have undergone years of abuse and you still carry me wherever I need to go.

My feet are thick and wide—not pretty in the conventional sense but functional and graceful in their own way. Thank you for the walking, the dancing, the feel of cold water on bare skin and the etching of each stone in the pavement.

Thank you for the running.

Thank you for the legs that help me stand up, these muscular, tattooed foundations that crouch and lift and help me move through the world. With them I have been able to walk down narrow cobblestone alleys in Marrakesh and thread through dense forest pathways and hold babies on my lap.

And there is the curve of my hips and the curve of my belly.
My arms can lift and my hands write, touch, pet and love.

My lips kiss and taste and speak; my eyes see stars and sun and snow and people I love.

I didn’t understand until recently that my body was a miracle and a poem in motion.
A poem given to me that I continue to write every day.

I will spend the rest of my life loving you—and no, I’m not quite exactly sure how, but I think it starts with following my heart.

If you want to be dressed in feathers and long skirts, if you want to rub amber along the insides of your wrists, if you want to eat cake, run, skinny dip or sit in meditation—if you want to make love, or drink lemonade, or be quiet for days in the long wheat fields on the farm—body, we are in this together.

Yes. Let’s do this.

I know we all have different paths to walk and been given different bodies and I am sorry that I tried to make you into something that wasn’t mine.

I will honour you and be grateful for every day you give me.

I am tired of all using all the energy that I’ve put towards hating you. I want to fully inhabit my life and fully inhabit you. I want to see what I can accomplish if I think of my body as being on the same team as me.

Thank you for giving me this moment to realize and to forgive myself.

In the name of not just self-acceptance, but radical, all-consuming, healthful love and appreciation—

Love,
Me.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Harold Bonacquist, Pixoto

Bronwyn Petry

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