I love the movement of body positivity, of embracing the ways our bodies change as we have children or age, of giving up the idea of “perfection” and coming as we are.
I also know that there are times when we need to grieve our bodies. Grieve what once was and isn’t anymore. To say, “I wish I still looked like that” or “I wish this wasn’t this way.”
My body has transformed over the years.
The varicose veins that creep over my calves, the loose stomach skin, and I’m convinced that pregnancy made my nose grow.
But even more recently, chemotherapy, in working to heal my body of cancer, has taken from it my long blonde hair, my dark eyelashes and eyebrows, and my face is round from steroids. People like to say, “You’re beautiful!” But I mostly appreciated a fellow cancer warrior saying, “losing your eyelashes is the worst! People don’t understand.” Those words helped me take a deep breath. Helped me feel released to be sad about the ways I’ve changed.
Is it the end all be all of who I am? Of course not! I’m not landing in a place of hatred of my body, and my prayer is that no one else will either. I still thank my body—thank you for giving birth to three precious babies, thank you for giving me the energy to exercise and spend time with my family, thank you for working on overdrive to fight disease, thank you for standing and walking and running (occasionally).
Maybe your situation is different: maybe it’s the wrinkles that come with age or the loss of the abilities to do what you once could. Maybe it’s that your legs aren’t firm or you might have other body things that just feel strange. You don’t have to celebrate every little thing that makes you feel less like yourself. It’s ok to be sad.
I’m sad about the things that feel lost.
I’m grieving the ways I hardly recognize myself, the parts I wish were different. And that’s ok. It’s ok to feel sad to grieve because those things are part of being human. Part of being a woman.
I’m not celebrating my body changes. There are things I don’t like about my body after having three children and going through chemo, and guess what, that’s ok! It’s ok because my body is not the whole of me. In fact, it’s not even the most interesting thing about me.
“Inner beauty” is something I’ve always said I wanted but, did I really? Maybe not. Maybe it’s taken a stripping away of some physical things to help me see the actual beauty of a soft heart and a compassionate spirit and a kind word.
The best parts of me are the many things that don’t show up in my skin.
Like how I love adventure and am always up for something new. Or how joyful I am, it’s just part of my personality, it’s not fake and it takes no effort. Or how I can laugh at myself and how I can be honest about my mistakes and admit that I want to change and have changed and am changing.
So here’s what I will celebrate: I’ll celebrate that maybe outwardly, I’m bummed about some things, but inwardly I’m free. Free to be sad about what I’m sad about and free to thank and celebrate the things my body does for me. And in that place, I’m freer than I’ve ever been, more confident, more secure. And that’s worth a celebration.