07/15/16

You Do You

My Body Can

Way back, way waaaaay back, before the Kardashians were a household name and you could catch Pokemon on your phone, I was entering adulthood. I was also living alone for the first time, in a new city, and dealing with the overwhelming problem of how one should go about becoming, well, a person. Our bodies are constantly changing, every single day, throughout our entire lives, but during this particular time I was feeling the changes hard. Hips sprouted out of nowhere like bunny hills and suddenly my whole body seemed to transform into a ski resort with all of its unfamiliar slopes and ridges, but none of those giant cozy fireplaces.

I unhealthily focused on my body’s appearance, constantly comparing it to that of women celebrated in the media.  Comparing yourself to others (especially the super successful) is always a losing game, but this was a particularly toxic moment in celebrity culture when super ­thin was in. I wanted to feel beautiful, so instead of growing as a person, I focused my energy on shrinking in size. 

My appearance became the central focus of my existence. I'd count calories and go days without eating. I was always unhappy. Even during sex, I was anxious and unable to enjoy myself, overwhelmed with fear that another person would have to bear witness to my hideous, naked being.

Unfortunately, my experience isn't unique. 91% of women report being unhappy with their bodies, and the issues start early. 40-­60% of girls ages 6­-12 say they are worried about becoming too fat

I was raised by a mom who exercised for two hours a day and constantly complained her butt and stomach were too big. I’ve been in groups of girls who wish away parts of their bodies as if they were alien appendages. I’ve looked at my own body in the mirror and thought to myself, “Not good enough”. 

So when Kejal suggested we make a video asking women about what they are proud their bodies can do, I was immediately on board. 

I didn’t conquer my body image issues in a tidy overnight self-acceptance montage. It took years, and it's still a struggle. But what really empowers me is finding gratitude in the things my body is capable of, regardless of what I look like doing it. This is different for every person, but for me personally, I am grateful that my body can take me hiking.  The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has taken me on journeys through some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

Our bodies move loudly and shift like rivers, they aren't stagnant monuments waiting to be gazed upon. I'd love to see a shift in our collective convos about women’s bodies from focusing on appearance to focusing on all the aaaah-mazing things our bodies can do. 

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