My beautiful body

I wrote a few days ago about how I’ve experienced a shift in myself. An influx of love and a grounding in myself as I feel well in my skin, full of love for who I am physically and as a spiritual being.

Since this shift, I’ve experienced an acceptance for by body.

I’d go even further than that actually.

I like who I am physically.

I find myself looking in the mirror and, instead of listing all the things that I’d like to change, – the extra fat on my sides and stomach, the grey hairs on my head, my chubby cheeks and dimply bottom – I find myself looking at myself with pleasure. IMG-0062

And instead of pinching the bits of fat on my body, sucking them in or hiding them away, I find myself stroking them, showering them with love, getting them out on display.

Getting into a swimming costume at the beach as I’m on holiday in Wales, I’m fine with not being ‘body perfect’ because I find my body perfect as it is.IMG_0048

I don’t mind when my tummy wobbles as I jump into the waves.

I don’t mind when I sit down on the sand with my son and my stomach bunches up.

I notice a curious echo of the past as I’m in the moment which says ‘you would have sucked your stomach up as this point‘ or ‘you’d have sat back to make your stomach flatter‘ but that’s not me anymore.

I feel the same wonder with my body that I did straight after I gave birth to my son but it feels different.

I don’t feel wonder for it because of how capable it is of creating another human being (although that is an amazingly spectacular super power!).

I feel wonder for it because it’s the house for my self. The vessel for the inherently precious and imperfectly perfect individual that I am.

And I find it to be enough.

More than enough. I find it to be beautiful.

I look back on the Christian messages I received about my body ‘your body is a temple’ and feel sadness for the Amy who read these words and felt that I was failing at another area in my life – not treating my body as a holy temple and instead of feeding it ‘good’, nourishing food, stuffing it full of cakes and sweets that weren’t ‘good’ for me.

For me, knowing my body is a temple is nothing about what I should do. It’s a fact that it is holy, whatever I do to it.

As I sit in a cafe tucking into almond butter, banana and maple syrup on toast, it is holy.

As I run along the beach in Abersoch, it is sacred.

As it brings my son comfort and enables me to show love for my husband, it is perfect.

And the irony is that as I shower my body with love, knowing it is enough just as it is, I feel fewer impulses to gorge myself with sweets.

I’m able to take or leave food if I’m not hungry.

I find myself wanting to nurture my body with nourishing food alongside the delicious desserts that I also enjoy.

With no ‘shoulds’ about what I need to do, but out of love and kindness and respect for it.

My body is beautiful and so is yours, dear friend. No matter whether it is fat or thin, wrinkly or smooth, short or tall, disfigured or untarnished.

It is perfect.


Thanks to Jess, who supported my writing and paid for the chai latte I enjoyed whilst writing this post. IMG_0065.jpg

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Radical

I’ve been writing a few blog posts recently but they’ve not been flowing as they usually do so I’ve taken a bit of time out and hope you will forgive me, friend, for my lack of presence here.

I’ve got a window of time to myself as Gregg and Jenson play in the front room together and so wanted to quickly write about ‘Dietland’, a programme I’ve been watching in the evenings and have thoroughly enjoyed. It’s an adaptation of a book about a story of an overweight woman who finds her voice and acceptance of the body she is in as she awakens to the patriarchal messages which has caused her body shame – the need to be thin to be desirable.

I’m aware that it’s not a perfect show – the cast are mostly model-esque and it gets a bit ridiculous as the show progresses. But I really and truly enjoyed how it made me question so many parts of our society that so often go unquestioned. Why we make judgements based on woman’s looks. Patriarchal power and what it would take to have a balanced share of power. How women (have to/choose to?) alter their behaviour to be more palatable to men. All areas that interest me.

And this quote (or at least it went something like this), oh, how I love it:

“What’s more radical than a woman who accepts her body”

I’m aware that I have quite a conventional, slender body. A few curvy areas and a body that has been marked by motherhood, but as UK size 12, I’m quite ‘acceptable’. And I’ve done so much work to love and accept myself and my body exactly as I am. But I still get doubts when I look at myself at times and find myself lacking. I still tend to base part of my worth on my size. I still for some reason feel more desirable when I’m smaller.

Is it because I was told (by society/myself/peers) that my body is what matters over everything else?

Is my worth as a woman judged primarily by what I look like?

Could I radically accept my body? And if so, what would that look like? It might lead to less waxing and shaving and tweezing (a topic that made me pause and think when a friend blogged about it herself recently). It might lead to letting my grey hair grow instead of covering them up with dye. And it might lead to me getting rid of some clothes that fit me but are uncomfy.

But it’s so hard to unravel what I do for me (I like my hait a uniform colour, but is that because I’ve received the message that ‘grey=ugly’ externally? Many men don’t dye their hair when going grey) and what I do because of external messages I’ve received?

So I’m left loving considering what it would be like to radically accept my body as it is. I’ve got a cobbled together, mostly functioning acceptance of my body and so I have experience of the freedom it is to love myself unconditionally. Living like this but ramped up – fully accepting, fully loving, never doubting – sounds like bliss.

And so while I’m not able to totally unravel what that looks like, I’ll sit with the idea, ponder on these thoughts and see where it takes me.

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It’s a reflex

I’ve just been reflecting on the three nights I spent in Hoi An on my month-long exploration of Cambodia and Vietnam. It was an interesting experience, although not my favourite place in Vietnam. Everything was so centred on selling and buying things.

The old town was full of shops with similar leather goods, tailoring shops and holiday nicknacks that I’d have wanted to buy once upon a time. But instead, probably fresh from my shopping ban, it made me feel a bit sad.

Sure, it was a beautiful place at night, strewn with lanterns and with lit-up rowboats gliding up and down the river, but it didn’t seem to have much of a soul as a city. It seemed like a huge marketplace when it was once a place of worship, of traditional Vietnamese life.

But it still didn’t stop me from feeling the reflex to buy. A beautiful lantern for our house, an inflatable toy for Jenson to use in the water, some new underwear because it’d be so much cheaper over here, some insect repellent just in case our near-full bottle was finished before the end of our holidays.

Each time I felt the urge, I would remind myself of all the reasons why I wanted to not buy stuff (there are so many reasons!) and the urge would slowly dissipate. I imagine over time that these urges will come and go, just like the tide.

And this experience made me think about the various other reflexes that I have which I hate but haven’t been able to shake off.

  • The way I instinctively turn sideways to look in the mirror daily for a view of how slim my stomach is
  • The judgement I make on myself based on how I look instead of all that I want to hold as important – my personality, my brain, my capacity to love, the inner strength I possess.
  • How I catch myself doing what I think I should do, even if it’s not what I really want to do

And part of me knows that the fact I’m conscious about these things is the tide changing in my life.

But I’ve taken heart from this shopping ban too that these areas in my life that I’m not satisfied with are the culmination of many different reflexes and daily actions.

And these are moveable, changeable, not who I am.

And with that I take heart. I believe that I can instead tell my stomach and body how glad I am for it’s strength and power, I can spend time appreciating all that I am, I can ask myself “what do you really want to do”.

They’re just reflexes that I have the ability to change.