I knew a girl
warm and weightless
who saw in me, a playground
Skipping two steps ahead
she’d call for me to join her,
“Let me show you what life feels like”
And limb by limb, she did -
A ceaseless, seamless freedom awakened
when these legs broke loose with the wind
An invitation to anywhere wheeling beneath me
Found satisfaction in marks of charcoal
caught by the sentimental edge of my wrist
Evidence of wild thoughts escaped
There were velvet overlooks,
to be learned with lips
A forever companion
to dance out every living rhythm
Ten toes to shake the earth with
Discovered how a hum bouncing in your throat
blooms sun into your soul,
a porch swing in your mind
That ears are a medium of instant ease
Sweetly welcoming any familiar tone
of a grandmother miles away
Could spell sass in winked eyelids
Lose breath from the lightest touch
Catch rain on the teeth I greet the sky with
And yet - I let her slip away
Forgot all the wonder she showed me
are not just measurements,
failed attempts at mirroring something else
But too regal to dare pick at
pull at sigh at stare at
in anything but adoration
No less a home when
she’s asking for tenderness
No less weak in need of rest
She gave this holy soul
language to connect to the ground with,
declare the depth of its magic with
Not a captive of gravity
A star that can burn
into any atmosphere
So tomorrow when I wake
I’ll hold her tight and kiss the morning
as my feet hit the floor
Knowing in these bones and blood
I carry not just a miracle
A damn design
manifestation of me
From birth, we begin connecting with our body. We figure out what our fingers are, how our legs can bend, and eventually, how to make a sound. It is an inherent, fascinating exploration of self; one that we approach, as children, joyfully. But as we grow, many more influences enter in that affect our body image beyond this excitement of understanding.
It becomes far easier to see what our bodies are not, than to be amazed by all that they are.
So many, if not all, of us have struggled with insecurity when it comes to our bodies. A lot of times, it feels like a factor of life we have to simply accept. But research studies surrounding this issue have started calling out the massive domino effect it has on the lives of women and girls. In 2016, Dove released the The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, which interviewed 10,500 females across 13 countries about their relationships with their bodies. Among other findings, the study showed that low body esteem greatly impacts a woman’s ability to see her full potential, assert her opinions, and prioritize her health.
85% of women and 79% of girls said they opt out of important life activities, such as trying out for a team or engaging with loved ones, when they don’t feel good about the way they look.
7 in 10 girls said they won’t assert their opinion or stick to their decision if they aren’t happy with the way they look, and 9 out of 10 women will choose to stop themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk. As deeply as we know our own experience and can relate with some of these numbers, seeing the scale of this issue in black and white becomes not just heartbreaking, but alarming. Clearly, the relationship we have with our bodies as women directly affects how we show up in life; literally, mentally, and physically. Can we recognize the weight of this? Can we agree that this relationship is so worth investing in; not just for the good of our own lives, but all the others we impact?
This month, we want to take the time to reflect on how we can take ownership over, respect, and love our bodies. We hope to rediscover the wonder and hold gratitude for all of the incredible ways they not just function, but are intricately tied to the essence of who we are; how we speak, move, and connect with others. Where there is frustration of our bodies not working how we wish, we will look for tenderness and a perspective of seeking to understand the mysteries our bodies can hold. Where there is question of their value, we claim their worthiness as not just objects that are supposed to be “pretty,” but a part of ourselves that deserves time and care. And if there are any voices telling us otherwise, let us dissect them carefully so that we are only listening to truth.
In the very same research study done by Dove, 7 in 10 women and 8 in 10 girls report feeling more confident or positive when they invest time in caring for themselves. 71% of women and 67% of girls called for the media to do a better job portraying women of diverse physical appearance, age, race, shape, and size. The awareness of our needs is already here; both individually and as a people. We’ve seen this in discussions on wellness and self care spreading like wildfire. Retouching is even beginning to be eliminated, and many brands and media platforms have progressed in having more diverse, accurate representations of people. And while there is much more ground to cover, be encouraged that the world is ready for this. We are craving a culture of body positive women, and a world with a non-singular standard of beauty. Let’s put our hands into this collective effort of carving it, shall we?
Photos by Kate Spencer Photography