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An Open Letter to My Body

I Should Have Loved You So Long Ago

Dear body,

We’ve known each other for 21 years now, and we’ve been through a lot together. Truly, you’ve been there for me more than I’ve ever been there for you.

You helped me through 12 years of gymnastics; you were strong and full of muscle. I didn’t love you, even though I should have. I should have loved every muscle you gave me, but I didn’t. I felt like a bulldog. Short and wide. I felt like I was fat because I was thick, but I wasn’t thick in a way that I should have despised. I should have loved every defined and toned line on you, but instead, I was embarrassed by the size of your arms because “why were they bigger than the boy's arms?” I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I forced you to work through hours and hours of power tumbling on a mat that felt like cement under your sore ankles, knees, and hips. I’m sorry that I made you swing around those bars even when you were telling me to stop by letting quarter sized chunks of skin rip off your palms. I’m sorry I forced you into shin splints by running vault routines over and over again, and I’m sorry for every time I missed my landing on beam and made you land unpleasantly with the beam between your legs.

You carried me through puberty, which is such an important time in a young person's life and easily the most awkward. I didn’t love you through it, even though I should have. I was mad at you because you gave me a period earlier than I had hoped, though I would never tell you that I secretly was waiting for it because I thought it would be exciting. I was mad at you for giving me what normal female hormones were, and I hated you with every pimple that raised on your skin. I despised you with every stretch mark that you allowed to show on your skin because you were gaining curves. I didn’t love you because I thought you were making me emotional and ugly but truly you were just helping me bloom into a beautiful woman. I’m sorry I cursed you as you reshaped me. I’m sorry I was embarrassed by you as you reshaped yourself.

You were nearly perfect, and I still didn’t love you.

You’ve stayed alive through every health issue sent my way. You’ve kept me alive through it all. I should have loved you for that, but I didn’t, until now. I realize that you do not intend to cause me pain, you too are crying for help. You are telling me something is wrong with every stab in the head, the lack of use of your limbs, limiting your vision and giving yourself symptoms that feel like a seizure. How else would you get my attention?

I now realize how beautiful you are even if you don’t fit the stereotypical “perfect.”

I want to apologize for the mean things I’ve said to you, and I want to apologize for being a bully. I am sorry for the pinches and the cuts I have hurt you with, and I am sorry for hating you even though you’ve always loved me. You never deserved to be treated the way I have treated you.

I want to thank you for a lot of things. It’s taken awhile for me to realize what I love about you.

Thank you for my soft and healthy hair, even though I’m not sure of its natural colour. Thank you for making it so I can leave the house with it wet and when it dries it looks like I had spent hours on it. Thank you for my beautiful blue eyes, they truly are my favourite thing about myself. Even though mom and dad had to pay a lot of money to get these teeth this straight, thank you for giving me such a beautiful smile. I hated my arms for a long time. Partly because they were once huge and now they are not toned enough, and partly because someone once told me I had fat forearms and that’s stuck with me for years now. Thank you for these forearms that aren't fat once you touch them, and mainly thank you for giving me arms that are strong. Thank you for giving me arms that can embrace in the tightest of hugs, and thank you for giving me arms that allow me to hold and cuddle my baby nephew. My tiny breasts that I always wished were bigger; I have learned to love their A-cup size. I now realize that they’re perfect, small and wonderful, so thank you for that. Thank you for my stomach that sure may be a little bit flabby, but it’s a stomach that if I flex and stand in the right position with the right lighting and right angle, you can still see what it used to be. Thank you for these hips that I always thought were too wide. I’m sure they’ll come in handy one day. Even though my butt may not be the most bubbly or round, it’s allowed me to sit on it for 21 years. I’ve fallen on it and slid down hills on it, and it’s always been there to catch me. So for that, I am thankful. These legs, my thick thighs, though they are not the most ideal in my opinion, they have allowed me to walk miles. Sure, sometimes they don’t work properly, or really at all, I am thankful for all the times they have. Believe it or not, I am thankful for my tiny feet. My size 1, can’t find shoes that fit them anywhere, feet. Last but not least, I am thankful for my heart. I am thankful for a heart that loves so strongly and feels everything so deeply.

Body, you have been my soul's home for the past 21 years, and without you, I wouldn’t have anywhere to live. I hope you can forgive the negative things I have said and done to you. It wasn’t me who was born hating you; it was society telling me to hate you. I hope you understand that.

Thank you for sticking with me these past 21 years. I wouldn’t be here without you, seriously.

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