Boys are taught their bodies are tools with which to conquer the world.
Girls are taught their bodies are a project on which to improve.
I’ve tried this before- when SheLoves magazine did a series about bodies. I wrote a long essay detailing my flaws and the reason I’m usually at peace with them. I wrote about my stretch marks as a reminder of those peaceful days of growing new life inside me. When it feels like despite the public opinion and attention, you have a joyous secret. You’re carrying your own oceanic world of rhythm and life. I mentioned my pudgy toes and how they look so exactly like my grandmother’s that they make me feel she must be walking around without them.
When I read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, I wrote- focusing on my attributes. My long sexy legs that almost never need to be shaved. The gentle curve of my pretty-much perfect lips. But the truth is these never seemed like love songs. They seemed hollow and unfamiliar-like a story with the plot removed.
This is my love song to you:
Running fast- the darling of my life beside me on her bike, just learning to ride. She’s fast now and fearless about going down steep hills. And I run beside her because I’m not quite ready to let her go. To let her ride along this road on her own. And my legs pump fast but my breath is still steady. I always was a little unsure if I could do this-what would happen if I just ran- and now I do. My chest is not tight, there’s breeze in my face and my darling and I are both laughing at the speed and freedom of the moment. We could go anywhere together.
The day is brilliant, the way only days in May can be. The sunshine is strong but here on my mother’s back deck there is shade and breeze and glasses of water that are sweating and puddling on the table. I’m leaning on the exercise ball talking and as each contraction comes I lean over and rock through it. I know in a bit I will move from this peace and rhythm of talking and breathing to a more focused physicality. I will groan through the pain and it will rend and ravish you but we will be triumphant. We will deliver a new human being to the world. Sweating, exhausted and bloodied, I will have conquered childbirth. Because you were sure-footed and confident, because I quieted my inner monologue and let you do the work. Because I trusted you and you brought me through.
And this is not all that you can do. You can soothe and comfort a nightmare-riddled toddler. A soft sweaty head against my chest and the very rhythm of our heart will soothe him back to sleep. You can move rocks,-huge stones across my yard and build a patio in the shade- a place of rest for myself and guests. You can carefully and with precision de-tangle a fishing line or hair ribbons. You can dance with abandon at my cousin’s wedding- my presence and your movement a proclamation of joy. You are strong and soft and defiant. You can create life and you can live it fully. Because you are a temple, a holy space, capable of bringing, speaking life with more than just words. And we can live out the rest of our time here together, at peace. And here I swear, I will no longer fight you, or curse you, or be ashamed of you. I will not use you or berate you. And when I turn upon you the unrealistic expectations I have accepted and fed to myself, I promise I will repent. And I will thank God again for you with a hot bath and expensive lotion and red lipstick and a long run and food that is melty, and savory and delicious. And we will get up and try again to live out this love that should be so natural but sometimes is so hard.
If you get a chance read some of the love letters at SheLoves magazine some of my favorites are here and here. Also, I’d love your insights into your struggles and triumphs of self-acceptance. If you get a chance to write a love letter to your own body I’d love to read it! Post a link or email me at DeidreCSanchez@gmail.com.