Your body was yours when you first came into it. If you are a woman, you probably don't remember this time, when your body was your own, and had its own knowledge and canny. You wore it easily and never questioned it. Why would you? Your body required nothing of you. Not acceptance nor criticism, not maintenance nor monitoring, not approval or restriction. Your body existed to take you places, and it did. It existed to delight you, to allow you to be a spiritual being moving throughout a sensual world. Your body was there to allow you to taste--mother's milk, chocolate pudding, grainy pears--to smell (skin, rain, baking bread)--to see (mountain valleys, your fathers eyes, the sun in the leaves)--and to feel. To feel the bark and the soil and the sand of the world around you, but most importantly to feel the skin of others.
Your body existed to accept love, from the world and from people around you, and to send it back.
Your body existed to carry out a dialogue between the universe and your soul.
Then it was taken from you. At some point, when you were very young, someone, accidentally or on purpose, suggested to you that your body did not exist as an electric vessel bridging this world with the divine. They told you that your body was there to please others by fitting into lines. Once this message was received, you weren't able to knock it out of your head. It seeped through your ears into your brain where it trickled down through all your blood vessels and into your soul and you came to accept this terrible lie as truth.
Suddenly your arms weren't there to hold and be held, or to climb trees, or swim in the ocean. Your thighs weren't there to bring the force of life into the world, to accept pleasure, to deliver love. Your legs weren't there to carry you to mountain tops, to stretch, to dance. Your entire existence shifted when you began to believe that your body was there not to accept love, but to earn it.
Now you thought your body's job was to be attractive. To be thin. To fit a cultural definition of a good body that was so specified, so stiflingly narrow that people have died in their attempts to achieve it. When your body was yours, it was free to exist as it wanted because it was unburdened from the attentions of others.It wasn't good or bad, it just was. Now it was only bad. It never looked like it should. It had cravings and aches that were labeled unseemly, inappropriate, or even slovenly and gross.
If you are a woman, you were told your body went one step further--it inspired others to sin. Not only did it crave impure things, it inspired men to impure thoughts. When one sensual pleasure--say, the melting of chocolate on the tongue--was labeled shameful, they all were (the ability to arouse and to be aroused, to orgasm and delight). You were told your body was only worthy of delight if it had been starved and punished, disempowered and made small. The world wanted to berate it into submission. You betrayed your body, you gave yourself over to these ideals, and when it didn't live up to them, you thought your body betrayed you in return.
So you denied it. This vibrating, humming, flesh-soft portal of communication between you and the universe--you refused to love it. You didn't know you were allowed to love it. Every time you went on a diet or envied another body, you were depriving your body of love. In this way, you deprived your very self of love. You began to spiral, scolding it so harshly and yet being surprised when it quietly refused to cooperate with you. You stopped hearing it. The voice of your skin and organs and bones was shouted out of existence by the voice of the world around you, telling you to be ever smaller, and smaller, until eventually you might disappear. The voice of your body drowned.
This isn't your fault. You were lied to at a deeply vulnerable stage and your body's intuition was taken from you before it had a chance to develop.
You can take it back.
Your body exists for you, and you alone.
It doesn't exist to please a judging public. It doesn't exist to gain approval. It doesn't exist for your parents, your friends, your spouse.
Your body cannot be bad or wrong.
You deserve to not have to worry about loving your body, but the world has made this necessary to claim it back. So this is how it's done:
Put your hands on your flesh and send it messages of love.
The way it is right now. Your thighs and belly and breasts aren't there to be molded into some hateful, limited idea of what is attractive and good. This message is wrong. Reject it fully, right now. Female or male, you must realize that you have been brainwashed. Relentlessly brainwashed. You have been asleep to your body for too long. You are waking up now.
Stand in front of the mirror naked and admire what you see. Whatever you see. This flesh that curves and rolls like the earth. This decorated canvas upon which the world has painted the story of your life. The parts of you that are rippled and speckled like rivers or a robin's egg. These thighs that quiver and sing when they are moved with joy, that shake like thunder and the earth. This skin shot through with nerves that flicker like stars. The parts of you that are pale like the moon or burnished by the sun. Don't you see that your body is as varied and glorious as the land and you should no more reject or whittle it than you would take a scalpel and sever away mesas and valleys and mounds?
To ask your body to be something that it's not is a profound act of violence upon your soul and you will try not to do it again. Refuse to send negative messages toward another body, ever. Not to anyone else's, nor toward your own.
I won't tell you what your body wants because only you can possibly know. A thing that is being sent an unending stream of hatred will never find its voice. Your job is to send your body messages of love until it will refuse to accept as truth any voice but it's own, ever again.
Your body is exactly what it is supposed to be, at this very moment, right now, and choosing to believe that is the only way to coax the wisdom inherent in all your cells into talking to you and working in harmony. You must soothe your body like an abused creature that needs and deserves to be hushed.
A woman at the beach is bending over her child and her belly is hanging, loose and undulating like the sea. Every cell in her body exists exactly as it should.
Put your hands on your flesh.
Send it your love.