Submitted by TEPF Volunteer
My body is imperfect, as bodies tend to be. I grind my teeth in my sleep some nights and wake up with muscle headaches. There are problems with acne that leave little white scars on my shoulders and make me reluctant to wear short sleeves. I have vitiligo on my face – an autoimmune disorder that causes loss of melanin in one’s skin, so that on sunny days parts of my face tan while others scorch pink. And on hot summer days (which, in Minnesota, is pretty much every day) I get gross and sweaty and smell unpleasantly of onions.
But even on those hot days when heavy-duty deodorant just doesn’t cut it and my back is sore, I still love my body. Because in the first place, it’s mine. Think of it – the whole wide world and this one thing is the only thing that unquestionably belongs to you. And by you I mean your consciousness, or your soul, or whatever you want to call it. That’s getting into philosophical stuff that nobody really knows that answer to.
What we do know is that we are here, on this planet, right now, with the capacity to change the world for better or worse. All over the world, the seas are rising, the deserts spreading like dry rot, the mountains losing their crowns of ice. Glasses of sweet, cold tea are being poured. The wonders of the world are waiting. Someone, somewhere, is a friend you just haven’t met yet. The way I figure it, you need that body. It might not be perfect, and it might give you all sorts of trouble, but without it you either a) don’t exist or b) are an intangible spirit, and neither of those states seems optimal for really enjoying life to the fullest.
So yes, I don’t always like my body. This is probably at least partially due to our culture’s idealization of physical perfection: seems like every magazine in the grocery line is selling some fictionalized photography of womanhood. But it’s also because having a body is messy. You sweat and you cry and you break out in pimples and sometimes you think you might look better if just this one thing were different.
Some days, I do think these things, squinting critically at myself in the bathroom mirror and comparing my appearance unfavorably to someone else’s. But then I remember that I’m not someone else. I’m a very specific person, moving through time and space, and this body is the only material thing in the world that I really own. This body is awesome precisely because it isn’t perfect – if it were perfect it wouldn’t be mine. So I step away from the mirror, find some clothes I like, check my bus pass, and go see what the world is doing today. Because why not? I’m part of it, after all.