I will always defend and love my body
Having to deal with body criticism is, for some of us, something that’s part of a daily routine. We are constantly told to change the way our bodies look in order to match with pre conceived ideas of what beauty is. In the below piece, Amma talks about the reason why she will always defend her body from these unsolicited comments.
Throughout my life, like many girls, I’ve had to deal with social commentary about my body. I wouldn't say there is one experience that taught me to love my body regardless. It's happened over time through conversations, comments and behaviours towards me. However, an overarching theme is this idea that my body isn't what it should be. I recall a time I sat at a table with friends and listened as they commented on my body: what it used to look like, what it looks like now, what it should look like. It felt like they were picking it apart and even though I knew they did not mean any harm by it, it left me thinking about how easily we let the narratives about our bodies slip out of our hands. Experiences like that have taught me to learn to love my body and embrace it no matter what people say. Here is why.
My body belongs to me
As girls, we somehow get used to our bodies being up for social commentary. It doesn’t shock us to hear people or even ourselves say that a girl looks fat, skinny, pretty, ugly, has gained weight or whatever descriptive we think fits. However, put that in contrast with how much less we hear about men’s bodies. Actually, it seems like a man is often praised if he’s especially attractive and if he isn’t the focus is shifted onto his talent or any other ability, while appearance becomes secondary. For women, sadly looks are always a priority. Something that always made me feel like my body wasn’t entirely mine is the way men sometimes look at it, the worst being strangers checking you out in an outrageous manner or the guy who sees you from afar and gets out of his way to bump into you or graze your body. It’s also happened in conversations with friends who’ve made comments about my body as if it was up for discussion. It’s taken a lot of practice and love to finally decide that this body belongs to me, that it’s only up for discussion if I open the conversation and to also make sure my discomfort is visible or heard when someone looks at me inappropriately.
How many times have you stood in a mirror and focused on just one part of your body and hated it? Of course, you would hate it! Because you are not meant to look at it as a standalone. It’s part of a greater masterpiece. I think of it like a puzzle: a single piece is not necessarily nice, in fact it doesn’t even make sense but once it’s in place within the bigger picture, its true beauty comes out. Think of your body in the same way. Next time you think a part of your body isn’t attractive, look at it in context. If it’s your nose, look at your entire face down to your neck, shoulders, stomach, arms, legs…etc. Put the pieces of the puzzle together and you’ll see that it flows no matter what you think. Our bodies accompany us through everything, shaping themselves and adapting to our state of mind. The more beautiful you believe it is, the more it will be to you and others. For me my body’s true beauty is in the knowledge that it’s meant to be the way it is. I’m not saying it’s okay to be overweight or too skinny, it’s all about balance and I believe that if you love your body, you learn to never push it to unnecessary or unhealthy extremes.
A reflection of my life journey
My favourite thing about my body is not a part of it. It’s simply the transformation it’s been through due to my life experiences, it is literally living proof of my journey as a human being. My body is the story of the time I fasted to be closer to God but then had to learn to regain my appetite and understand that maybe fasting wasn’t for me. It tells the story of the time I lived in one of my favourite cities on the planet. It was one of the happiest times in my life, so my cheeks grew bigger with every smile, with every laugh. It also tells the story of a time when I lived abroad and spent my days hiking, in the wild, at one with nature. It was the time I finally accepted my athletic arms and embraced them. It’s about when I finally stopped biting my nails and they grew beautifully, to which a friend mentioned was a sign that I was happy and no longer anxious about my life. What a journey it’s been, still is and will continue to be! I’m so thankful my body reflected and continues to reflect all those adventures.
Ultimately, I’d rather be in awe of my body than critical of it. When do I most appreciate it? In the times I get sick because it works so hard to heal me and get me back on my feet to conquer the world. They say that birth is a miracle, but it doesn’t end at birth, the true miracle is that somehow through time and space your body grows and takes its shape to become the ever changing, irreplaceable you.