Dear Body, I Love You. – Shivani Patelnotyourwife1214
“Look at her hips, they’re getting so wide” I heard my mother exclaim, “It’s called puberty” I replied back, I was 12 or 13 and, as a stereotypical Indian, was a science geek with sass to boot. Academically I knew how normal bodily changes were, but that did little to alleviate the worry a changing body causes. External pressures to look a certain way only added fuel to an already burning fire.
I got my first pair of hair straighteners when I was 14, and would wake up at 5am to flatten my unruly curly hair only for it to be frizzy by the time I got to the school gates. I rubbed lemon juice on my face to lighten my skin, I taught myself how to thread my moustache and regularly did sit ups to flatten my stomach. All this before I turned 16.
The years following I have only abused my body further. I have allowed comparisons to thinner and fairer family members make me feel unworthy, I have allowed all forms of media to make me feel ugly and I have allowed myself to think happiness lies in the number shown by the label in my clothes.
And yet, this same body that I, and many others, have tried to break down and fit into a different mold, refused. You, my wonderous body, you stood tall and proud and resilient. You planted your size 6 feet and the long toes they come with deep into the ground and said no. You change.
I’m sorry for wishing your skin was not so brown and that you didn’t tan so quickly; I was taught to admire fairness and shun darkness. I was given home remedies to lighten your skin, some just this year. I don’t blame them, they’ve lost their ability to question why but something inside you knew they were wrong. I’m sorry for standing in front of a mirror and only seeing what I don’t like about you rather than the miracle of flesh and blood intertwined with scars & memories that is staring back at me. I’m sorry that even today unsolicited comments like ‘you’ve got fatter’ or ‘you looked better before you went to university’ brings up that dreaded lump in the throat. I’m sorry I contemplate doing Beyoncé’s Master Cleanse diet to quickly shift the pounds. I’m sorry I end up eating my feelings instead.
So, my dear body, I take the time today to apologise for the constant war I have been in with you. I put my self worth and, ultimately, whether I was deserving of love in the size of you, like too much of you would be an overindulgence. But I was so very wrong. For nearly 28 years it has been me and you against the world; through the trials and tribulations of childhood, the awkwardness of the teenage years and to finding our place in the adult world, you’ve been my silent witness through it all.
Your strong legs have helped me walk the many paths and turning points life has offered and your warrior striped hips will one day help me carry a baby. Your snatched waist allows me to wear all the skirts my heart desires and though your stomach will always remain soft I will never deny you red velvet cake. I’m moving onto to my least desirable part of you, your boobs. They’re too big to wear the cute tops I want and they never fit properly in my Indian clothes. And until recently, affordable lingerie sets were out of the question, but thank god for Rihanna and Savage x Fenty. I’m still not your biggest fan, and it shocks me when others are because I still find it difficult to look at you with love. But boobies, I promise I will try, because you deserve it.
Your face is what the world sees first and the area I scrutinise the most under the harsh bathroom light. Nonetheless, your droopy mouth laughs the loudest, your acne scars shows how time fades all wounds and though your eyesight is abysmal it devours words from my favourite books and lets me see the beauty in what is sometimes a bleak world. You will have chubby cheeks and a double chin for life, but I still get asked for ID so its worth it.
I’ve never said this to you but thank you and I love you. You have endured the worst and yet have always managed to get me out of bed in the morning and carry me wherever I need to go. We still have many years to go and though I hate to admit it I’ll have many more moments of not respecting and loving you like you are worthy of, but I hope these moments of doubt will be short lived and I will remember the words I have wrote here today.
By Shivani Patel