• Emerentia

Being loyal to your body

As a teenager my body was probably as fabulous, fit and healthy as it would ever be. This is the time before I subjected myself to unhealthy student-budget meals. This is before real life stress and sleep deprivation really kicked in. I was innocent to the poison of physical inactivity.

There I was, all through my teenage years, freaking out about how I would love to have curly hair rather than straight. I was drawing on my eyebrows rather than using the perfectly ‘drawn’ ones I already had. There I was hiding myself in clothes that were probably better suited to a funeral.

In the famous words of Mr Wilde: “Youth is wasted on the young”. I can almost imagine his witty jealousy as he remembers the wastefulness of his younger self .

Fast forward 15 years and I’m in my thirties, with a belly button that will probably never be the same again having been poked from the inside by 2 little babies and enough bags under my eyes to liken me to a zombie. I probably have much less reason to feel loyal to my body than ever before, but for some reason I have a greater sense of loyalty because of where my body has taken me and what it has enabled me to experience thus far.

This idea of loyalty is an odd one especially in relation to one's body. To me loyalty was that plastic card your favourite pizza joint gave you as incentive to go and spend more money in that shop. Loyalty felt a bit like subtle manipulation.

More recently I’ve come to accept it as something similar to the loyalty I have for my family. We are proud of our family despite the embarrassments and inconvenience they cause us. We are proud of them because of our common experiences and the love and care they have shared with us. We are proud of them because, despite their quirks we choose to be proud of them. We choose to be loyal. This loyalty is sometimes joyful and, if we are being realistic, sometimes a lot of work. Should we not share the same sense of loyalty for our bodies seeing as they’ve stuck it out with us through thick and thin (pun intended).

This brings me to my next rather controversial point: If you don’t like it change it. We are the way we are as a combination of the cards we’ve been dealt and the decisions we’ve made. And nobody can change that. But you can choose what happens when you wake up tomorrow morning. We can choose to make better decisions and choose healthier relationships, habits and food.

There is a way that we can realise our flaws and flabby bits and affectionately deal with them gently when the time is right. There is a way that we can be realistic about our bodies AND kind to our bodies. It has gotten us so far. It also tells a story. It has shaped who we are.

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