When I was growing up, I was teased mercilessly for my widow’s peak and I abhorred my hips and thighs. I could never fit into a pair of pants without serious alterations and pencil skirts were a no-no. I remember being as young as five years old and not allowed to wear a bathing suit uncovered because I looked too much like a woman. In middle schools, my “friends” asked why I didn’t just wear bangs to discover my hairline. And to this day, I have yet to find a pair of boots that match both my shoe and calf sizes. It feels like the world has conspired against my brand of beauty.
But that wasn’t the worse of it. The ugly part was that I bought into it. I had a knack for not attempting things I couldn’t be perfect at. I sabotaged my grades in high school because I thought I wouldn’t be as good as the other girls who had money and attentive parents, so why should I bother turning in my English papers in time. I didn’t even attempt to have a sense of fashion until, well, the last three years. Yeah, that means when I was about 33 years old.
There’s a silver lining though. I started reading and writing and surrounding myself with images of people who looked like me and places that affirmed me as inherently good. The world didn’t fall apart when I thought I failed. Instead, God and the Universe reminded me over and over again how beautifully human I am. Even in her discussion of her songs “Pretty Hurts” and “Flawless,” Beyoncé warns about the trap of being perfect.
I’m not perfect, but chipping at that pressure to be that helps me realize that my “flaws” are my strengths. It's an active, regular practice to change my mental script and remind myself of my beauty instead of criticizing my flaws. This year, my jar is not one of memories, but of reminders of how beautiful I am in small and great ways. My hips remind me of my beautiful ability to carry and bear a child. My thighs and calves are those of my grandmother and aunts who are the epitome of strength and transformation. My widow’s peak is my grandfather’s legacy, another example of a person who overcame in spite of the odds being stacked against him.
Here’s what I want you to do:
1- Choose a body part(s) that you have a contentious relationship with.
2- List the ways that it has benefitted you and/or endured wear and tear.
3- Reflect on the ways that your body part demonstrates your resilience and beauty.
4- Write a letter of appreciation to your body.
Reply below to let me know you’re reading and you are considering this.