We have crested into a new year.
And even before the clock struck midnight, my inboxes were full of advertisements, special offers, and amazing opportunities for me to transform my physical form.
To be honest, like a lot of people I am sure, as each year ends and the next begins, I think back on what happened with/to my body and what I want to see happen over the following 52 weeks. But in that reflection, I see all of my short-comings, failures, and broken promises layered over an already damaged and traumatized figure.
And that allows all of those nasty whispers to increase their volume.
The louder they get, the harder they are to ignore.
Seriously though, who the fuck are all these people and why do they want me to be smaller? And, how are we living in 2023 and still equating thinness to health?
Last year I embarked on a quest to increase my physical activity with greater consistency. It had nothing to do with altering my physique and everything to do with genuinely improve my relationship with my body and movement.
Things started out strong.
But ever so slowly, after about five months, time and dedication proved harder to find. As did the want to seek them out.
As the year progressed something in my relationship with my body shifted.
I spent more time really looking at my body and then navigating the emotions seeing myself evoked. A lot of this came about when we shook up the room allocations in our home, and suddenly, I found myself showering in the bathroom I avoid.
Because of the mirror.
That runs nearly the length of the entire room, on the wall opposite the shower.
And ends just after the shower’s exit.
So, I went from being able to easily avoid seeing my naked self to having to carefully orchestrate and choreograph a strategic dance of towel acquisition and mirror avoidance. After about a week I gave up because it was quite nearly impossible.
And it wasn’t without risks. I didn’t want to become a bathroom slip n’ fall statistic.
The more time I spent familiarizing myself with my body, the less I thought about what it looked like. As if that makes any sense. But it’s true.
In the beginning it was awkward. And truth be told, the current situation isn’t entirely absent of it. However, that uncomfortable feeling subsided. A little.
It took a couple of months before I could really investigate things (like beyond the routine health checks I already performed) and when I did, I was shocked to see some pretty dramatic changes that I had not noticed. Because I would not look at my naked body.
The biggest change, after realizing that a few things hang a little, erm, lower or longer than they used to, was how much more visible my vitiligo was. Especially on my inner thighs and lower stomach.
But those new white spots, saggy tits, and fun new wrinkles aren’t the point.
The point is that I had been (and often still am) convinced there is something wrong with my body, mostly the size and shape of it. That shit is deeply rooted in me, but also in our culture. Whether we are aware of it or not.
Though it wasn’t the first time I’d had it, this time the realization hit a little different.
And I was mad.
Why was I allowing others skew my perspective, impacting what I see when I see myself, and then to dictate the amount of space I need to exist?
After some really conscious pondering, it was clear I had unconsciously delegated that job. To an idea, to an opinion, and to an aesthetic that I do not agree with.
And while I was not looking for another task, this is one I will take on habitually.
Do NOT shame yourself into a smaller form.
Take up all the space you need.