Home > Health, Love, Parenting, Personal, Reflections > The beauty in a body

The beauty in a body

Oh, god. I look terrible. I can’t post any of these.

This was my first thought when I looked at the trick-or-treating pictures my fiancee, Anthony, sent me shortly after we returned home. Not, “Oh, geez! My son is the cutest little dragon ever!” or “What a pair we make!”

I look terrible.

I indulged the thought for only a minute or two before I saw the pictures for what they really represented: my son’s first experience trick-or-treating. Since he had refused to don his dragon costume unless I, too, donned one, I had thrown on whatever I could find and left with my bedragoned son. Trick-or-treating with him was even more magical than trick-or-treating for my own candy as a child, and it was with that magic in my heart that I said, screw it.

I posted one of the pictures.

And, wouldn’t you know it? None of the comments were, “Cover it up!” or “Oh, geez, I just lost all my candy!” Since I’m not a celebrity, I didn’t wake up in the morning to any headlines proclaiming:

FATTY MCFATTERSON AUTHOR REGRETTABLY BARES ALL

or

ANONYMOUS DOCTORS CONCERNED WITH AUTHOR’S HEFTY FRAME

I smiled at the sweet comments actually left on the picture and thought little more about the image until I went for a massage this morning, courtesy my super-awesome sister.

As the masseuse worked her magic on the knots in my shoulders, I thought, What an amazing gift it is, to be able to feel things like this. What an amazing gift it is, to have this body enabling me to live in, feel, see, touch and taste in this world.

I thought back to the picture of me and my little dragon and tears sprang to my eyes. Three years after giving birth to my little dragon, I’m still 25 pounds heavier than I was prior to my pregnancy. I’ve recently made it a priority to care for my body the way I did before, and to get it to a weight that will hopefully diminish my back pain and help increase my circulation. I made this decision for my health, not for my appearance. In the wake of the massage just finished, I hope I never, ever again make decisions about my body based on how it appears versus how it feels.

Because the truth is this:

This is the body that my mom birthed, and nurtured from infancy to adulthood. 

This is the body that enabled me to run two marathons, and a half marathon in memory of my mom.

This is the body that sustained the little human being who is my life’s single greatest blessing, and whose lap holds that tiny body when he is hurt or in need of comfort.

This is the body whose hands enable me to stroke my son’s hair when he is falling asleep, and once to massage my dying mother’s back as her hands once massaged my own back, and almost every day to intertwine themselves with my fiancees’ to remind me tangibly how loved I am.

This is the body that allows me to know the goodness of the sun’s warmth on my face, the cool catharsis of rain on my skin, and the sand between my toes as I look at the ocean and think of the infinite awe of this universe.

This is the body that enables me to type posts like this, and to reply to the emails and comments of love other peoples’ fingers type to me.

This is the body whose arms held the niece and nephew my mom’s arms will never feel the weight of. These are the arms that anticipate the joyous weight of more nieces and nephews, and, if I am so lucky, another child of my own.

This is the one and only body I have to experience this world, and for the abundant privileges it affords me, it deserves my gratitude and love.

There are changes forthcoming to my body. These changes will be inspired by love, and ones that reflect my desire to do as well by my body as it does by me with every single breath I am blessed, so very blessed, to be here to breath.

These changes will not be because I hate the way my body looks now, or because I believe it will be more beautiful two, ten or twenty pounds lighter.

They will be because I understand, finally, that the beauty in a body is not in how it looks, but in the gift of life it grants.

Note:
This was among posts accidentally deleted from this blog.
Reposted 3/26/16

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  1. March 26, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Great reminder to keep it all in perspective.

    • March 26, 2016 at 6:45 am

      Thank you. This particular one is from 2012, and one I definitely wanted to get back onto the blog! (I think I’m down to only about a dozen or so more I’m going to be reposting.)

  2. March 26, 2016 at 6:45 am

    That’s about as healthy of a body image as possible. Great post. When did you originally write it?

    • March 26, 2016 at 6:46 am

      Thank you! I wrote this one November 3, 2012. Reading it this morning really took me back. I remember how frustrated I was by lingering pregnancy/grief weight … until I had this revelation. 🙂

  3. March 26, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I think you look fantastic. Life is all about those little moments.

    • March 26, 2016 at 8:58 am

      Thank you! I totally agree about those little moments, having spent way too much time early on misunderstanding that wonder lived in the Really Big Stuff.

  4. March 26, 2016 at 8:34 am

    From our own hearts come the sweetest words, when we love ourselves and put mama first.

    What a lovely post. I’m going to print this and place it on my fridge as a reminder that I too, have a body that loves to be loved, from the inside out. Thank you.

  5. Kay
    March 26, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I love everything about this post, but that last paragraph is perfection. 💜

  6. March 26, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I’m so glad you reposted it!

    • March 26, 2016 at 9:33 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad to see your image and feel in my heart the warmth of knowing you’re out there.

  7. March 26, 2016 at 11:39 am

    This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read about anyone’s body.

    • March 26, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you! I’ve written a few times about body image since, but this was the foundation for those later posts. I still sometimes forget and have to remind myself, but I am glad to know both how and to where to reorient myself.

  8. March 26, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Wisdom. Which I recognise and don’t completely follow.
    I don’t like to look at myself. I AM grateful for the things my body will still agree to do. My next door neighbour but one also has MS. She is paralysed from the neck down. Which fills me with fear and horror. However most mornings she asks her sister to bring her outside, to enjoy the feel and the scent of the day. Which is inspirational.

  9. March 26, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    A few weeks back, I touched on a book called The Last Leaves Falling, a work of fiction about a teenaged Japanese boy dying of ALS. It was absolutely heartbreaking and absolutely beautiful, both as someone who remembers being a teen and the mother of two boys. I’ve wanted to write a blog about it, but I haven’t had a clue where to start … save, perhaps, to liken it to Seeking a Friend at the End of the World, in which portions of the end are clear from the beginning.

    I’ve thought back to the woman “E” I mentioned in “my heart’s / right there” and wondered how she was. Wished I could ask her questions, or go back in time and comfort her better. Until reading this work of fiction, though, I only saw in the gradual physical deterioration the loss. It was hard for me to see what remained. Reading that book … man, I saw how much remains, and I was touched by how everything unfolded in ways that felt so, so very real and so very full of love. I sobbed through the last hour of reading the book, honestly, and I’m crying remembering it now. (I’d hesitate to recommend it because how it ends could be very charged; for me, it’s a plausible possible conclusion, but I think it could also feel like advocacy of that particular conclusion instead of for the option of it.)

    Imagination is only a shadow of the real thing … but reading that book … well, it made me glad for the time I spent sitting at E’s bedside while she “spoke” to me with her letter board. It made me hope someday I’ll have people who’ll sit with me if I can no longer speak as I do now. It made me understand better that, as I wrote in “whole,”

    “whole”
    is not
    in how
    our limbs,
    or our minds,
    are configured,
    but in our
    living,
    loving,
    laughing
    as we can
    with the configurations
    we do have

    Again, I have only my imaginings, and I know that carries me through only a fraction of the real deal. But through these meanderings, I think what I’m trying to say is … from this side … your magnificent heart and words will continue to shine no matter how your body does or does not move, and based on all I have seen the last few years, you would/will have so much left to say. While acknowledging the losses you’ve experienced, I would be happy–were we closer in geography–to sit with you in the sunshine, and listen to your expressions of self however it was you could reflect them.

    I wish I had a better way to say it, but because I’ve never had the occasion to try expressing such a thing … I must fumble through and hope that you can see despite my poor phrasing the acknowledgment that … your heart and soul will shine on from the outside no matter how you might someday be able to express them. I know this doesn’t negate any loss, but … I just want you to know I’d love to sit with you in the sun, and feel the goodness of just being next to you, no matter what we did or did not say.

    • March 26, 2016 at 10:50 pm

      Heartfelt thanks.
      I am fortunate. There is still quite a lot I can do. Perhaps not easily, or gracefully, but I CAN. And am grateful for that.

  10. March 27, 2016 at 5:25 am

    Beautiful writeup Deborah. My eyes turned moist after reading this and allow me to tell u why. I am 15 kgs heavier than i was around the time of marriage the reason being all the harsh medications & surgeries i had to undergo just to concieve and when i did, twice, there was a misscarriage. I do work on my body but it doesnt bring down much weight, doc says harmones… i need to put way much more efforts than a normal person would need to lose an ounce! I started hating my appearance and started shying from being captured into photograph and hence i have lost so many moments that i would have loved to capture and take a look at God knows may be 10 yrs down the line.

    I like ur concluding two paragraphs. It changed my way of looking at myself! From now on i would be proud about my body not for the appearance (which will be as “not so heavy” as i was when i got married) but because it is what will give me a baby… someday!

  11. March 27, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Again I am without the ‘right’ words because you say what I need to hear, need to take in and need to remind myself of. Both your original post and your conversation with Elephant’s Child lift me up, I can only say thank you. ❤

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