Today’s guest post comes from Dani, self-described as “Social justice extraordinaire. Americana mama. On any given day, you can find me on my couch, with my dog, or with my face in a book. I sing songs in the shower every day.”
Since I can remember, I have been at war with my body.
From the time my body became, I guess, WHAT it would be, I had a round belly and an ass that at times felt like I was carting around a cosmic pot o’ gold, and at other times, felt like I was transporting something the likes of a commercial dumpster. It just depended on who was looking at it and what I had to eat that day.
As I approached my late twenties, and started dating the guy who is now my husband, I realized that I was uncomfortably rounded. My belly protruded quite nicely out in front of my body (I got asked if I was pregnant more than a few times), and my ass had grown in proportions I didn’t know were possible. So I started modifying some of my lifestyle choices, i.e. not drinking super sugary liquor drinks, beer, or sweetened, soy-milked coffee. I tried to limit the amount of trips I made to China Panda to get mock chicken nuggets and faux crab Rangoon, and I learned how to cook. I got my weight down from probably 165 to 155, and it has been there ever since.
Even when I would go through the periods in my life when I was heavier than I thought I should be (where does this subjective comparison even come from, except that my pants were too tight?), I did not actually make too much of an effort to change it, though the negative body self-talk was a constant bullshit narrative like a reel in my head.
Here’s the thing: I DON’T care about going to the gym every day. I DON’T like to talk about exercise, don’t want to get committed to some new-age fitness regimen, or start running fucking marathons. In fact, this conversation bores the hell out of me. I am 31-years old, and here’s what I have liked when it comes to physical exertion: roller-fucking-derby, kick-fucking-ball, walking my fucking dog, motherfucking bike riding, or anything else that is on my terms. When I played roller derby, I felt like steel. When I played kick ball, I imagined I was in an action movie. When I walk my dog, my joy is in the quality time spent with her and the delicious outside air. And when I ride my bike, I feel free. So, none of these things answer that nagging voice inside my head that says I need a smaller waistline. I have never been skinny, skinnier, or skinniest, and I don’t doubt that I will go to my grave with this type of body that has always been this type of body.
I have been at war with my body. My body and its unique build have bulldozed me through the hell and back that was my life as a child and adolescent. It has supported me through countless hangovers, break-ups, and triumphs. It blasted me through 12 years of waitressing and bar shifts like a boss. While in a band, this body hauled heavy equipment back and forth from show to show, from bar stage to bar stage, doing my share despite what gender constructs told me I was required to do. I have defended myself during physical altercations, bucked up because I believed my strong body WAS a force to be reckoned with, and this body has been kissed, hugged, loved, and has kissed, hugged, and loved it’s share of special people. Why in the ever-loving shit have I put my body on trial? What has it ever done to me, other than be soft on the outside? I weighed myself today, after two months of NOT dieting while simultaneously beating myself up for it. Guess what? I weigh the same damn amount that I weighed when I was measuring out the amount of Cinnamon Harvest biscuits I was allowed for breakfast, counting calories and cursing my way through every meal as if I had ALREADY done something terribly wrong before I ate the food.
Here are life’s battles and victories that I DO deem important: advocacy and empowerment for disadvantaged people, good work, getting educated, noteworthy experiences and conversations, music-playing and music-listening, gardening, therapy, cooking, and friendship. All of this is to say, I hereby surrender this war. I’d venture that there are much more important wars to fight. My food choices are generally healthy, whole, and ethically-bound. I’m just gonna go ahead and keep doing that. I hereby raise my white flag in surrender and evict this nasty, inner dialogue that has been in my brain and my heart for too long, because truthfully, it’s high time it finds a new home.