Thursday, October 20, 2011 • 6:47 AM Comments (13)

On I Love My Body

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Yesterday in the slipstream of what runs down my Twitter stream like so much I have idea what, so many words and thoughts and witticisms, was this: yesterday NOW was calling a day in the blogosphere to love our bodies. I think I’m a day late, possibly a dollar short.

I thought: But I don’t exactly love my body.

Then I thought: I love my body for going to yoga now.

And then I stopped thinking about the whole I love my body thing and went on with my day.

Late at night, lying in bed, I thought: I love my body for carrying three babies into the world and holding another through all those endless nights of infancy (and last night was one of those parenting-teen-endurance-sport ones, so I guess I loved our overtired bodies for that, too).

I mean I love my body. I so, so do.

I’m conflicted about it all the time. That it’s “imperfect.” That it isn’t faster or stronger or more flexible or less tired or ageless forever or set on larger feet with larger toenails I would want to paint (not black and not pink and not red; I’m not sure actually what color I’d paint ‘em, but the little ones are so silly I just can’t see the worth of painting them).

I’m grateful for my body every single day. I walk. I make a lap. I touch the floor with my hands. I whirl around the elliptical. I smile. I hug. I sneak time with my dear hubby (no mean feat with so many other humans in the house awake at so many hours). I think. I help other people. I write. I love my body for the gazillion things it does and feels.

**

Bodies, in my family of origin, are complicated and not always such happy entities. I love my body for enduring all that and continuing onward, like emerging from river that rushes so fast it could take you where you did not want to go.

Bodies, in our society, female bodies, are under siege, and I think even more so than ever. Our ideals have gotten impossible for how females should look. A slew—and I mean like a whole arena in pop culture—of narratives exist that pretty much tell you how you look is achievement enough in itself. I read yesterday a story in People Magazine about how Kirstie Alley again lost 100 pounds. She brings a professional dancer on holiday with her to keep in shape. That’s her indulgence. No, her indulgence and her work are one: that keeping her 60 year-old-body a certain size and shape is her main focus. Without that she could not consider pilots or Broadway or book deals or romance. Really? And more importantly, not only is abortion’s legality and access eroding faster than the ice floes, we are really frighteningly close to seeing access—even to real information about—to birth control do that same melt. As my three year-old would say I’m just joking. Except, I am not joking.

I want a world for my daughter and sons that encourages us to love and to live in our bodies so much more healthfully and happily than all that.

For that reason, we talk a lot about pretty much everything and we try to live healthfully and happily and I will keep at my imperfect love for my body. I get that as parents we have to love ourselves in order to model this for our kids. It’s so simple an equation.

I love my body. Period.

Comments (13)
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Love it! I enjoy the notion of "loving my body" being about it's capabilities and accomplishments rather than physical traits!

Posted by SW on 10.20.11 at 8:23

and I LOVED this piece. So strong. Full of acknowledgement and self-awareness. Full of love.

Posted by cvwgi on 10.20.11 at 9:36

That image with dotted lines indicating our "ideal" Barbie-esque outline is very effective.

My fitness trainer friend told me this is National No Talking About Weight Month. I don't think it actually is, but what a good idea.

Posted by jzzy55 on 10.20.11 at 12:42

I have made my body better, but in the ways that matter- I've improved my lung capacity by running so I don't get out of breath so quickly; I fixed (not quite past-tense, it's a work in progress) my tight IT bands so my knees don't hurt while hiking; I've reduce my knee-jerk fear or anxiety reactions to find a calmer place... I will always have chubby bits but that's not the part that matters. Why can't people see the important parts? Hmmm, I've never thought about my toe-nails. I can't really paint them either.

Posted by SarahH on 10.20.11 at 12:42

Beautiful, Sarah! Beautiful and deeply thoughtful words from one beautiful and deeply thoughtful person. Thanks for starting this stream of thought running through my own consciousness.

Posted by Lauren Y. on 10.20.11 at 13:06

A wonderful, beautiful post, Sarah! I needed to read it, as I am not always kind to my body-- most women probably need to do a better job of owning and loving their bodies.

Posted by Carrie Goldman on 10.20.11 at 15:48

Thank you Sarah. I think this is one of the most compicated relationships we have. Even as we may shed our ideas about appearance, we then begin to decline in strength and function. Gratitude vs resentment. I hope Saskia inhabits a body that remains endlessly delightful

Posted by susan rees on 10.20.11 at 22:42

A wonderful look at the way our average bodies do amazing things that are also quite ordinary. It is a pity that we so often focus on what they are not instead of what they are.

Posted by Mark Mazzola on 10.21.11 at 17:13

I'm now four weeks postpartum. The baby is crying and I'd love to take the time to think up a more thoughtful comment other than thanks for this but... Thanks for this.

Posted by Hannah Pratt on 10.22.11 at 20:36

After worrying 3 years ago how breast cancer would alter my life and body in the short run and over time (and it has), I have developed an increasingly grateful appreciation for my 50+ body as it is now, with some new challenges, yes, but still daily mindful of the gift of being here at all to breathe, to give big hugs, to see, hear and engage in the beauties of the world, to garden, to take pride in the gray hairs (I earned them all!), to enjoy yoga, to laugh, to create and eat and take walks...the pleasures far outweigh the limitations, frustrations and discomforts...who is anyone--let alone anonymous media wonks--to tell me what my unique, totally precious body "should" look like and be able to do?!?!?

Posted by randiek on 10.24.11 at 8:52

This is so so beautiful, Sarah. I heart you for loving your body like this - and for helping me love mine in the very same way.

Posted by Deborah Siegel on 10.25.11 at 12:12

I'd die for a day at the Spa Castle in Brooklyn, NY. Unfortunately I moved to another state and haven't been able to find anything like that place so far. Google it, it's worth going if you're in the area!

I think the best way to love your body is to know that somebody else loves it more :) It works for me! Don't be ashamed to go out there and look for love. I found love through dating websites and I honestly don't think it matters where you will meet the person who will adore you as long as you meet him! Life is short and I feel sorry for the people who don't have the guts to look for love. Being old and lonely sucks!!!

Posted by ShantiRon on 1.5.12 at 17:03
Typical liberal feminist male hating, child killing garbage!
Posted by Markcromar on 1.5.12 at 17:06
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