The body. The female body.
Like so many other beliefs, my ideas about my body and the female body in general have shattered into pieces over the last years. Nothing is what it seems as soon as you start to look further than our cultural surface. As soon as you start to slow down, open up, minimize, find the peace of mind to examen your beliefs and thoughts and acts. How big are they? How just are they? How much do they serve you? Are they fueled by love? Are they wholehearted and true enough to get you trough life? To get others through?
If you do not know where to start, start with the body. Your body. What do you feed it? How do you talk to it? What do you tell it? How do you dress it? Protect it? Nurture it?
I found out how harsh I have been to my body, how strict and unkind and critical. It was never good enough, always comparing it to other bodies, denying it food or water or a toilet visit, demanding things from it because I wanted it to, even when it was telling me no. Hating its fearful, weak state. Sounds like slavery when I look back at it.
Observing my body and my relationship to it I found out it is a being of its own, that is constantly communicating with me and with its surroundings. That is telling me what it needs, what it has to offer, what it feels, what my soul feels. It is like a marriage, my body and me. And we all want a happy marriage. So I tried to take better care of my body, noticing its subtle whispers to me more, instead of waiting for it to scream in pain. I took more time to dress it lovingly, oil it and feed it on time. I became aware of it.
And with that I became aware of our cultural beauty trends. When I was in puberty, Bay Watch was a television hit, showing beautiful women in bathing suits with large breasts, small hips and tiny noses. Guess what, I have small breasts, wide hips and a big nose. Point was made I was not beautiful and would never be, but still I wanted to be. So I blamed my body for all those things it wasn’t. And this went on for years and years.
But then, after being burned out and attempting to create more awareness through my body, it first came to my mind that I did not need to be beautiful. It is simply not my purpose nor my bodies purpose to be beautiful. It is my purpose to be radically honest about what I experience, nothing else will work. And it is my body’s purpose to protect, contain and support the fire within me, the fire of my spirit. That realization is what made me feel beautiful, no matter what I looked like.
It is not about what the body looks like, not about its size or age or shape, the question is : does my body feel? does it communicate right? Is it connected to life and joy and grief? Is this body alive enough to assist me in all these experiences? It it through the body that we are human. It is the body that grounds us, that makes it possible to feel, manifest, speak, to be.
That is its purpose. I’ve read about this in Woman Who Run With Wolves, from Clarissa Pinkola Estes. One of my favorite books ever. “I saw what I had learned to ignore, the power in the body. The cultural power of the body is its beauty, but power in the body is rare, for most have chased it away with their torture of or embarrassment by the flesh.”
Worry, grief, shame, uncertainty about the way the body looks, takes away the immediate power of the soul, of the fire and spirit within you. It robs you from your inner beauty and your original ideas and sparkling laughter. It takes away the force of life. Take care of your body, nurture it, wear that lovely dress, love your body and it will love you back in double. It will make you the most beautiful person you have ever seen.
Painting by Marc Chagall ‘Nu’ – 1949