Day 8 – Feet – #30DaysBodyPositive

Trying to tackle one of my LEAST favorite body parts today, to push myself:

My feet.

My feet are callused, US size 10/11, veiny, indelicate. They’re also unusually wide, and have weird toenails. And when I say weird, I mean 60% of them are deformed in some way.

I generally hide them, and don’t like when they are touched (I cite being excessively ticklish). Pedicures give me anxiety. There are times I would rather put them in long socks and boots and forget they exist.

They also make good flippers for swimming, handle 12-16 hours of standing, and dissuade me from buying expensive shoes because they look preposterous in platforms or stilettos.

My college roommate was a below-the-knee amputee. My own sister broke her foot a couple months ago. I know to be grateful for the misshapen platforms that carry me from here to there, and foot aesthetics is a new concept designed to sell beauty products.

I have resolved that perhaps I can *like* my feet, but not necessarily *love* them.

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Day 7 – Ass – #30DaysBodyPositive

I feel compelled to include my favorite Sally line from Coupling: “Having a bottom is living with the enemy. Not only do they spend their lives slowly inflating, they flirt with men while we’re looking the other way.”

So, my ass… is gigantic.

It’s partially hereditary (several aunts have a bubble butt) and partially due to thirty years of fabulous posture (piano lessons and decades of choir), and a job on my feet.

I curse it when I have to squeeze it into jeans fresh out of the dryer, or when sitting in a chair with arms, but it makes sitting much more comfortable. It makes for a good center of gravity when I am crazy-dancing. It makes falling backward safer, because I have a natural landing pad. It makes my waist look smaller.

Aside from the multitudes of male attention it garners (which I have tried to avoid mentioning as the reason to love my body), my friends with adorable tiny bottoms have expressed envy.

It may be the only overly-large part of my body that I don’t despise: my Cuban dance-club booty. See, it’s possible.

Day 6 – Fat – #30DaysBodyPositive

They say that body-fat percentage contributes to your ability to float in water. So this summer when I go swimming, I will out-float everyone. Mwahaha.

My fat also keeps me warm in a chilly room, and cushions me when I fall, or sit on a hard chair. My fat means I am soft and snuggly when I receive the affections of a child or a lover or a dog. My fat makes a lovely pillow.

If you don’t understand the reasoning behind taking a month to talk about loving my own body, then I’ll try to explain.

There is not a single part of my being which I have mentioned so far, which has not been the subject of self-criticism. I am saying nice things about them to combat the dozens (or hundreds) of times I have said “I hate my hair, I hate my legs, I hate my shoulders, being tall sucks, why can’t I just be skinny, if only I was ___ pounds lighter then I could finally be happy etc etc etc.”

And here’s the secret: EVERY WOMAN I KNOW DOES THAT. It may not be daily, but it is often enough. I am trying to forcibly re-frame how I regard the vessel I inhabit. I can’t trade up, so I might as well treat it better. Before you ask, yes I DO try to exercise. Yes I DO try to eat healthy. I just insult the hell out of my body to motivate myself to do better. It’s like pouring sugar into the gas tank before you get a car wash. So I’m going to start treating myself well from the inside.

I’m also hoping, in some small way, that these posts help other women (and humans, I’m not picky) think about what they like on their own bodies. If I can love this imperfect structure, surely you can love yours too.

Day 5 – Shoulders – #30DaysBodyPositive

My shoulders are quite German: big, square, muscular. Built for carrying sacks of flour or pulling the plow when the oxen die.

They are in proportion to my height, which is to say 10% larger than you’d expect a woman’s measurements to be. They jut instead of slope, and look fabulous when I pull them back and down, like my piano teacher and choir directors taught me.

If I’m feeling overwhelmed, sometimes the simple act of pulling my shoulders back and stretching my neck up will make me feel more confident, because it’s what I do when I’m about to sing.

Plus they look pretty badass in a halter top.

In Which I Declare Independence

Most people I know were all about flags and lighting gunpowder toys and swimming and cooking outside yesterday; for me, yesterday marked a year and a half since I left my abuser.

I spent my day alone, for the most part. I helped a friend move a carload of things (well, I intended to help, and showed up after most work was done). I came home and sat in my apartment with my dog and watched Netflix.

A friend thought perhaps I was lonely, and called me, and we talked for over an hour (I think perhapsĀ he was lonely). But I was content. I mused on how powerful it is, to choose being alone, rather than scrambling to be around people.

So yesterday, on Independence Day, I mentally celebrated 18 months of independence from:

-Fighting to the point of exhaustion

-Embarrassing screaming matches where we pretend the neighbors don’t hear us

-Never knowing where the remote, scissors, lighters, or car keys are.

-Being late to work because I’m crying in my car.

-Putting on more makeup to hide the fact that I’ve been crying in my car.

-Cigarette butts

-Flinching when someone gestures broadly

-“Phasing out” (i.e. being so emotionally overwhelmed that my brain literally goes into a fog to prevent a breakdown)

-Panic attacks

-Apologizing for my feelings

-Apologizing for behavior which no one else noticed or objected to

-Pot smell, pot ash, pipes, bongs, rolling papers, all over everything I own

-Looking for a place at a party where we can step away and have an argument without anyone noticing

-Lying in response to the question “How are you doing?”

-Lying about nearly everything my partner does

-Lying to myself

-Coming home from a 16-hour motherfucker of a day and needing to soothe someone else’s emotional state

-Finding behavioral similarities between the children I teach and the man I’m with

-Changing the passcode on my phone and tablet frequently

-Filtering my conversationsĀ just in case he finds a way to read it later

-Being afraid to speak my mind, and mentally planning rebuttals for how my argument might be twisted

-Shifting my vocal tone softer and higher to avoid giving offense, until I feel like a cartoon character

-Being afraid of a shift in his vocal tone

-Being afraid to wake him up

-Being afraid, period

-Accounting for how long it took me to get home

-Sitting in a Dennys or Starbucks or Target before I go home, just to catch my breath

-Sinking dread/anxiety the instant I pull into my driveway

-Making plans and having no confidence that I will be able to keep them, if he’s in a “mood” that day.

-Creating convoluted cover stories for what I was doing when I want to spend time with someone he doesn’t approve of

-Defending my friends and family from criticism

-Questioning. Everything.

-Feeling crazy

-Feeling like a terrible person

-Feeling wrong for how I feel

 

…I could go on. I’m about to start going in circles. But it took me some time to recognize all of these, and now every goddamn day without him feels like a long stretch after a good night’s sleep.

Every day feels like the breath you take after surfacing from a high dive.

Every day feels like the sunny meadow in a motherfucking allergy pill commercial. I’m not joking. Even the rough ones are better than what I had two years ago. I can’t for the life of me understand why I stayed so long.

The only thing I can truly be grateful for is how much more I appreciate a quiet day watching TV on my own couch.

Day 4 – Calves – #30DaysBodyPositive

I have really, really big calves.

It’s genetic; my mom and sister have them too. There is no knee-high boot that fits them, no matter how “wide leg” they brag about being.

They frustrate the crap out of me, because they’re solid muscle; I look like some crazy long-jump champion without the cool benefit of being able to do anything remotely athletic. But they carry me through 10-20K steps a day, miles and miles, before developing shin splints.

And the days I need to walk seven miles vastly outnumber the days I want to wear knee-high boots, so I’ll take it.

Day 3 – Hair – #30DaysBodyPositive

Erm. I missed the midnight cutoff, but here it is…

My hair hates rules. It is a chaotic conundrum, so curly and fine and full of fifty different shades, twisting to catch the light a million different ways.

It took me twenty years of life to figure out how to make it look okay. (Literally, the first fifteen years or so, it was this fluffy tangled pile of dog pelt on my head.)

When I fuss with it to try to make it look fancy, it can throw tantrums and wind up a frizzy, knotted mess. When I spend a day splashing carelessly around a water park, it can arrange itself into mer-goddess ringlets. I never know what to expect.

But it is very soft. I am told it usually smells nice. It is fun to play with, and coils around my fingers in a soothing way when I am anxious or thinking through a problem. And it is distinctly mine, because when it is straightened I no longer look like myself.

I would not trade it, no matter what percentage of dog-pelt days I still have. It is a singular part of me.