I was born it. I’m not lying — I came out with an amazing body and I’m proud of it. (Hint: so were you!)
You probably already knew I was going to say that. “Good genes” is a pretty standard response in celebrity interviews.
But what you may not know is that you were born with an awesome fucking body too.
Before I got cancer, I used to work out because I didn’t love myself when I didn’t. I’d set some number in my mind and when I weighed more than that number I hated my body. So I would run because more than any other exercise, running makes me lose weight the fastest.
But I hated running. I was terrible at it.
I would run way too fast at the beginning, and after five minutes I’d feel like I was going to throw up. If I pushed through and made it 10, I’d have to stop on the side of the road and dry heave.
All of it was punishment. From putting on my running shoes, to going out in the heat, to pounding the cement, all of it meant that I’d done something wrong. I’d eaten too much. I’d let food get the best of me. I wasn’t good enough. I was fat and most of all, I was unworthy of love. I’d spent the entire 40 or 50 minutes running till I felt sick and then walking and berating myself for being so out of shape.
And then I got cancer.
For months before I was diagnosed, I had trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, a dry cough that became irritated when I exerted myself and I was tired all the time. Even though I wasn’t working out much, I was losing weight quickly. I also had a lump on my neck.
How Cancer Affected Me (And My Awesome Body that Fought Back)
“I think I have cancer,” I told a friend after I’d lost another five pounds that week.
“I must have it because I never lose weight like this. I always have to fight every pound off and now they’re just falling off.”
“Be happy. I’d love to lose five pounds,” she said.
At 5’9” I went from weighing 150 pounds to 130 in two months, and I received more compliments than ever.
“Wow, you’ve lost weight. You look great!” “Thanks, I have cancer.” Insert awkward silence.
It didn’t matter that my skin looked drained, dark circles shadowed my eyes, that my hair shed worse than a German Shepherd’s and I’d resorted to coloring my bald patches with a magic marker—people were constantly telling me how great I looked.
I went to Spain just a few weeks after my surgery and strangers would stop me to tell me how beautiful I was. This isn’t rare in Madrid, and on its own wouldn’t be big news, except that I remember a group of guys asked my friend and I to take their picture. As I took the camera and held it up, I heard the boys making jokes about how hot I was and one guy said, “She has a tattoo. Did you see her tattoo?” And that remark made me feel so sad and angry.
I wanted to say, “Yeah, you know why you can see my tattoo on my hip? It’s because my shorts are falling off me because I have cancer.” I went from a size eight to a size four. I hated it. I didn’t feel sexy or hot, like people were telling me I was.
I felt sick.
I looked in the mirror and I didn’t like the hollows in my cheeks or the sag in my bra.
My natural frame is athletic. I have a big butt and strong thighs. I lost all of that when I was a size four. I had no curves, no strength. This wasn’t supposed to be “sexy.”
What’s wrong with a society that thinks sick looks good?
After my surgery, the doctor said I had to rest. I couldn’t run. The thing that I’d hated to do, the thing that I did when I was bad and had eaten too much, the thing that was my punishment was now the thing I missed the most. When I saw people running by my house, I felt sad, and I promised myself that as soon as I was better, as soon as I was strong enough to go outside, I’d run again.
This time, not as a punishment, but as a prize.
And that as I ran, I’d thank my big legs, the ones that I hated as a kid, and I’d tell them they were fantastic fucking legs because they could carry a heart so big and so brave.
So this is how I got my fantastic body. I was born with it all along. I just didn’t know it. I didn’t appreciate it. Now I spend time every day telling my feet, my hips, my butt and all the way up to my bright eyes and brain, that “I love you. You’re fantastic.”
I have an awesome fucking body, and so do you.
I know my worth. (A Poem)
And it doesn’t come from the size or shape of my ass
Nor whether I want to slide it up a pole
Or shake it all alone.
I know my worth doesn’t come from a cup size
Nor does it depend on what you think you could do with my body
If I were to let you.
Although my ass and my breast are both worthy of admiration,
Worthy of paintings and statues and salutes and awe,
They do not define me.
I am beautiful
I am sexy
My ass is round
But I also have two strong legs to hold it up.
And a back that has held much more.
And two arms that have carried hearts
And sleeping children to bed.
I have a chest beneath these breast
That holds a heart that is bigger than a nation
That has loved many
With the tenderness of a silent lover.
My lips that speak words of comfort
My eyes that shine even through the pain
My ears that hear your thoughts before you speak them
And my mind, full of ideas and desires
That lies awake and imagines all that was and is and will ever be
I am all of these bits and pieces
None of them alone define me.
I am not the size, nor shape, nor curve of a limb
I own all of me.
I decide my worth.