I’ve seen a lot of articles and stories about body positivity lately, and it’s had me thinking about my journey to self-love, and learning to be appreciative of my body, instead of constantly cursing myself for what it doesn’t do and has never looked like.
Swimsuit season is upon us, and for many who are overweight, underweight, normal weight, and live with any type of disease or illness that can affect appearance, this can be a high anxiety time. I know I’ve sat on the beach or at the pool, dreading having to get up and walk to the water, anticipating glances from judgemental bystanders because my body doesn’t look like what they’d prefer to see.
This year though, I’m resolving to walk talk, be proud, and love myself, because…
They don’t see the 9 year old girl diagnosed with Crohn’ s disease, who spent 3 months in the hospital, and had nary an ice cube pass through her lips for 86 straight days.
They don’t see a 10 year old body bloated from prednisone, or hear her “friends” calling her Cabbage Patch Kid.
They don’t see the 15 year old whose colon is ripped from her body, and the stomach that is fashioned with an ostomy pouch to save her life.
They don’t see that teenager standing in front of the mirror, disgusted by what she sees, asking questions no teen should have to ask – “Will I live through highschool?” “Will I get to go to college?” “Will a boy ever think I’m pretty, let alone date me?” “Will I ever be able to have sex?” “Can I have a baby, be a mom, hold a career?”
They don’t see the 5’9, 98 lb body that graduated highschool ravaged by pouchitis, Crohn’s disease and anorexia. How every single rib was visible in that chest, and how the knees were wider than the thighs – They don’t see that, do they?
They don’t see that young woman at college, so desperate to fit in and be normal. They don’t see her self-destructing with alcohol, or crying herself to sleep at night after a person she trusted violated her body in the worst kind of way.
They don’t watch as this 19 year old is wheeled off to an emergency surgery that makes an ostomy a permanent fixture in her life. They don’t see the emotional breakdown, or the physical fight to regain “normal”.
They don’t you see the countless stoma revisions, hernia repairs, packing of wounds, infections and bowel obstructions this body has endured.
But they also don’t see as this 24 year old woman walks down the aisle on her wedding day, tall and proud and feeling beautiful.
And they don’t see this body as it grows and nurtures another human life for 9 months, even after doctors said that would never be possible. They don’t know the trauma that pregnancy put this body through, and the multiple surgeries it’s taken since then to try and repair the irreversible effects.
They don’t see that this body nourished that baby for 6 months from its breast, and they don’t see the 12 years that this body has been fighting to stay well enough to continue to care for this child.
They don’t see the multiple blood clots in both lungs that almost killed this body at age 37. They don’t see the results of a pulmonary infarction that means that this body now functions with only 80% function in its left lung.
They don’t see the most recent (and hopefully last) surgery this body has conquered – how doctors used mesh to rebuild an abdominal wall that had been disintegrated by the 16 previous surgeries. They don’t see the massive infection that destroys this body for a month after that surgery, or the weeks upon weeks of IV antibiotics and recovery, only to result in another surgery and open wound.
They don’t see the Crohns disease that, having destroyed the intestines, is now plaguing the skin on this body. They don’t feel the pain , see the embarrassment, or understand the grief.
You, passers of judgement, have never seen this body hold the hand of someone who is hurting, hug a friend, or walk alongside someone who is struggling to find their own way to self-love.
You don’t see this body, that is 5 months from turning 40, and understand that it’s seen and experienced more that most bodies twice its age.
This body isn’t perfect. Its arms are a bit flabby. It carries extra pounds and is soft and snuggly. The thighs touch, and yes, they jiggle. It has a booty, and it has a belly, because artificial abs just don’t “hold it all in” like they should. It’s covered in imperfections – cellulite, stretch marks and lots of scars.
So, no, in your eyes, this body is far from perfect. But I LOVE this body, and I’ll not let a sideways glance from you cause me to curse it with ONE. SINGLE. NEGATIVE. THOUGHT.
This body has fought, struggled, warred, and is still standing.
It’s not perfect.