I went shopping recently and discovered I can’t fit into too many things anymore.
Where I used to be able to pick up just about anything and fit into it, I now struggled to find a piece of clothing that would go on without a struggle.
It was frustrating, exasperating and terribly disappointing. There I was, standing in my knickers in front of an unforgiving full-length mirror under the unforgiving glare of the lights and noticing every last dimple of cellulite and wobble.
Then I think: You know what? I’m exactly where I need to be.
There’s a lot this one body has got me through in the last few years. And yes, she’s put on weight; she’s not the size of a Sweet Valley Twin anymore; she doesn’t fit into everything as snugly as she did before.
But she has looked after me in the best way she knows how.
She’s been there for me in the most harrowing of times and carried me through to safety and peace. She’s been there to allow me to enjoy new freedoms and discover new joys. She’s given me the flexibility and movement to hug the people I love and do the things I love to do (just dance!). She’s given me rest and excitement and every experience in between.
She’s allowed me to do everything I’ve needed to do and protected me from all the things that didn’t serve me.
So she’s a lot fleshier now, a little dimpled and wobbly in places. In exchange for all she’s done for me—often when I’m not even aware of her chugging along in the background—this is nothing to be sad for.
But we hear the same complaint of women (and men) everywhere. At the heart of so many success stories, no matter how successful!, there is some despair and a mass of frustration as how their bodies aren’t doing what they wish they would, which is mostly to lose weight in certain places, to flesh out in others, to tone up, to tone down, to shrink, to expand…
The struggle is real, and I get it. I don’t mean to dismiss or understate how much pain can come of wishing your body looked or behaved or responded a different way. What I am trying to say is that it can be helpful to stop sometimes and just consider what it is doing, how it is responding and all the marvelous things that we are able to do, feel and experience because of it.
Actually, our bodies are already doing exactly what we wish they would: they carry us through every single task we set out to do every single moment of the day, no matter how small or enormous, significant or frivolous. They help us raise families, start and build careers, go on holidays, see the world, try new things, do all the things we love to do.
Instead of hating our bodies for not squeezing out that last bit of wobble, do we never stop to think about everything that it is doing?
So yes, I didn’t buy anything from that one store that day. That’s just fine. Instead, I paused for a moment in the changing room, surrounded by things that didn’t fit, and had a good old look at my myself.
For the first time in a long time, I felt glad. Just glad and grateful. I got out my phone, struck a hearty pose and took a selfie to celebrate my body doing all that she does. (And here she is, in the photo above).
I resolved I would love her better and appreciate her; I would start simply by trying not to hate so much on the way she looks, to give her nourishing, whole, healthy foods, to move her more the way she wants to be moved and celebrated.
By conventional means, I’m still nowhere near “worthy” enough to be on any advertising campaign or mainstream billboard. That’s just fine, too. There’s plenty else I have done and am going to do—and that’s worth a lot to me.
I know what my body has done for me, what she keeps doing and all the other magical things she will quietly continue to do for me even when I’m not noticing.
And that’s enough.
Author: Jamie Khoo
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Author’s own