As a small child, I remember wanting to be blonde like the other little girls. Partly it was because my curly hair was unruly and was painful to comb out, but it was mostly because the other girls possessed the traits that I believed to be truly beautiful. Their skin was fair, their hair was straight, and the hair on their arms didn’t show up as easily as mine did. As I got older, young boys would dutifully point out my mustache. I quickly learned how to wax, pluck, and shave every part of my body.
Teenage insecurities aside, I never quite fit into what I believed was beautiful. Sure, media had a little bit to do with it, but also native culture and fashion. I was either too skinny for some people, or my thighs were too big. My butt was too bony, my shoulders too wide, hair too long or too short, my breasts were too small . . . it became exhausting. I found myself constantly trying to change the way I looked to please someone else. I would straighten my hair, wear a certain color eyeshadow, wear only pants, whatever it was that someone else or society wanted from me. However, the opinions of other people, or society, always change. I was in this constant frenzy trying to make someone happy. I would become so angry with my body because it wouldn’t lose or gain weight in the right areas. I hated everything about myself.
One day, I finally woke up. I was looking at myself in the mirror, once again criticizing something when it hit me. I asked myself “Why in the hell am I always trying to please someone else?”
I did a quick body scan. I wasn’t looking for beauty, I was looking for strength. My feet may be small but they are strong enough to hold my body weight. My legs are bowed, but they propel me forward. My butt is small and bony, but it supports me whenever I meditate. My stomach isn’t flat, but it works hard to create energy out of the food I bring into my body. My breasts are small, but they guard my heart. My arms are weak, but they have enough strength to give a nice hug. My shoulders are wide but they don’t mind if you need to cry on them. My ears poke out, but I can hear. My face isn’t perfect or symmetrical, but it helps me express myself. The hair on my body keeps me warm and helps me feel the world around me.
Regina Spektor said it best in her song Folding Chair, “I got a perfect body, but sometimes I forget. I got a perfect body, cause my eyelashes catch my sweat.”
The way I interpret the above lyrics is that bodies aren’t made to be objects to be displayed in a museum. They are built to be functional. We should be thankful for what they do for us every day as opposed to how they look.
Our bodies are made to house our spirits. They protect our minds and they give comfort to others. Stop looking at it as a display piece; instead, see it as a strong and useful home for your soul.