The very first time I sat down to write a love letter to my body, it came from a place of near desperation because I was so tired of feeling nothing but discomfort and overwhelming self-loathing. I desperately wanted a break from myself, because I was exhausted from a war where my body was both the battlefield and the casualty, trying to heal my self-inflicted wounds, and hating myself for falling in a abyss of inescapable loathing. The day that led to that shift from self hatred to overwhelming gratitude, a friend of mine who knows my struggle with self-acceptance all too well, sent me a song by Jonathan McReynold. He had spent so much time telling me that this did not need to be my story. I didn’t have to be the girl who could only live in her body if she was spending hours either in the bathroom throwing up or in the gym working out through injuries. My friend would always tell me,
Would you please look at yourself in the mirror and say I am worthy, I am beautiful?
Would you please believe me when I say you look fine the way you are?
Would you please let go of that relationship? Yes someone else will love you like you should loved.
He was relentless and let me be honest with you, I believed none of it. I felt he didn’t know what he was talking about. What about this body, was possibly lovable when it was bringing me nothing but grief and resentment? Looking at myself in the mirror and saying “I am worthy, I am beautiful”, is not going to work! I am just sick of this body and nothing is going to fix that unless I lose weight and get the body that I want. The irony is, I was already pretty thin and none of the joy I expected from slenderness was coming to me.
And so my friend sent me the song. “Lovin’ me” by Johnathan McReynold and I hit play on the youtube video. The song starts,
Now I’m nowhere close to a perfect man
And it takes a supernatural love to even understand
That beyond the walls behind, the mask and confident smile,
Was a broken man trying to grow up and make life worthwhile,
And I know there were times that you probably Shouldn’t,
But I thank you for always Lovin’ me
And I know anyone else they probably wouldn’t,
So I thank you for always Lovin’ me
Those words hit me hard because I suddenly thought of my body. The patient, loyal, forgiving, relentless love my body has given me. The way that it is perfectly designed to always strive for my survival, and how it managed to function so well through all these years of abuse from me. Why was I stopping on external conditions to be able to love my body when I had so many reasons to love myself, or at least accept it with gratitude? What took me so long! Why didn’t I see this earlier? My body is magnificent, it has the the magic of the entire universe encapsulated in my flesh, it is my most tangible evidence of the overwhelming love of a higher power. Listening to McReynold’s song was like an epiphany, and I replayed it countless times so as to never let go of what I should have known long ago. I wasted too many years wishing to have someone else’s body, missing the wonders of my own and yet it waited patiently for me to see its value. And even if I never recognized the divine meticulousness with which I was created, my body would still work hard and give everything to sustain me until it couldn’t anymore. Oh man, what a love!
I had to sit down write a love letter to my body (which you can read here), which really reads more like an apology letter. I eventually started this blog to inspire people to build a compassionate relationship with their body, because I couldn’t wait to share with everyone else the shift you experience when you begin to make friends with yourself. Of course there are still days when I am not happy with my body because self-acceptance is relentless work, but this song is one I always return to for encouragement. I sing along with him,
I know there were days I looked at myself,
I felt like less of a person compared to everyone else,
What about this flaw to big to small, can I exchange?
And when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see
Oh, I just thank you for always lovin’ me.
And I know I get bad but you wait patiently
I just want to thank you for always Lovin’ me.
I hope this song inspires you to envision a different relationship with yourself. Self-loathing does not have to be your story. look at your body, and say ” I just wanna thank you, for always loving me”.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.