Monday, September 9, 2013

Love The Skin You're In

Sitting on the beach last week, away from the din of city life, I reach a moment of intense clarity. In my little fold out chair and $10 thrift store sunglasses, I made my first steps at self actualization. Everywhere around me there were bodies. Tall bodies, petite bodies, old withered bodies, young gangly bodies. Bodies that rippled and bodies that were taut. And what's more, no one looked at another with contempt or disgust. Had I traveled that far from home? A mere two hours from the urban blight and constant barrage of body-shaming. As I looked down at my dimpled knees and pudgy toes I realized, I didn't care. I didn't care what strangers thought of my body. I didn't care that society thinks I should stay far from the beach or anywhere else I may be tempted to show skin.

Here was a whole beach full of people, showing their bodies in their most vulnerable of states and not giving a hoot what anyone thought. And no one gave me in my cleavage-baring tankini a second glance. At least not in a bad way. What a concept. Self-love and body acceptance, something I've been shouting from the rooftops for years, and yet battled with in private. It's easy to say and post and encourage others in their journeys to body acceptance, yet not so easy to look in the mirror everyday and not wince at the armfat or double chin.

For most of my life I hated myself. I tried to change who I was so people would like me, and so I would like myself. People will find a reason to dislike you no matter what you are. Some may not like your weight, or your complexion. Others may show contempt because you're a different religion or an anti-theist. It's exhausting trying to please everyone and near impossible. So I decided to please myself. I will walk into life, like the ocean, hesitant yet brave, unafraid and yet completely in awe of it's magnitude. There's nothing like the ocean to show you just how small you really are, and how free you can be.

So I will go to the beach, and the gym. Go on hikes and to ballgames and zoos. I need it just as much as other people need to see it. Normalization needs to happen. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and just because you may not want to see fat people doesn't mean we don't exist. We do and we have a right to take up space. And get a tan. Don't like it, don't look. I will not be shamed.