To my beautiful, 45-year-old body:
This week, you crest the hump of your 40s. I’d like to say I looked at you, in all your glorious nakedness this morning, and did back-flips over how incredible you look—but that would go against my life long pattern of picking you apart, body part by body part, and criticizing even the tiniest of flaws.
I noticed the other day, that I mentioned to someone how I used to have an eating disorder. I did this in the same way I’d mention to someone, “Oh, my hair used to be brown before I started highlighting it.”
So casual and flippant, like I was talking about some fun childhood game I used to play when I was growing up—instead of the cunning, baffling and powerless disease I used to fight on a daily basis from the time I was 16 years old.
Oh yeah—just this little eating disorder thing. Didn’t I ever mention it?
Yes, I can talk about it now—with a lot less shame and a lot more wisdom. Because there is no shame when you don’t even understand what it is you’re doing to your magnificent, perfect, youthful body, at such a tender age. There’s so much wisdom in having defeated it after many many setbacks, relapses and difficult lessons—once I was able to wrap my head around the reasons I treated myself with such contempt.
I consider myself to be a kind, thoughtful and loving person, and I’d never treat a perfect stranger—even one being a complete jerk to me—the way I treated you.
Shame on me.
So many woman out there are doing the same things as I did—admittedly, I still do when I think no one is watching. The obsessive calorie counting, the endless denial of basic nutrition I know I need, but somehow feel guilty about, because I think one extra serving of anything may be the bite that tips the scale into the weight range I consider unacceptable on my tiny frame.
The relentless pounding of my feet on the pavement—in 90 degree heat, running as fast as my body will carry me—after a long and exhausting day at work and having woken up three times with my two-year-old daughter in the middle of the night.
The pressure got even more intense as you got older—a slower metabolism, less time to work out, skin stretched out from gaining and losing weight, stretch marks from two pregnancies—gravity making your ass and breasts droop lower than body parts they just shouldn’t be drooping lower than.
But I digress…
Because here is what I want you to know, my amazingly strong, 4’11” and gracefully aging body: I absolutely love you today.
I embrace all of your curves, your imperfections, your stamina and your physical strength.
I admire how you can hold a plank longer than women half your age in yoga class. I love how 25 years of lunges and squats hasn’t done a damn thing to shave down the size of your ass, because I’ve been told that’s your best feature.
I love the way you can carry two 30-pound kids—one in each arm—up two flights of stairs by yourself, without breaking a sweat. I love that your belly button ring hangs a little lower than it used to, since two pregnancies loosened the skin down there a bit more than we anticipated.
I won’t be treating you with such disdain anymore, moving into my 45th year, because you deserve so much better.
Slow walks along the lake at sunset, with stops to meditate on the benches overlooking the water, instead of heart-pounding jogs on your aching joints which are screaming for rest.
Gentle yoga to pamper your sore muscles from carrying those needy little small people, who call you “Mommy”—instead of power yoga in a 105 degree heated room, for the sole purpose of burning off the extra calories we consumed at lunch that day.
Whispers of, “Damn girl, you’re looking good today”—instead of pinching you in places you don’t deserve to be pinched, because really all the pinching has never resulted in inches being taken off our thighs anyway.
Let’s make peace already, my perfect 45-year-old body.
I’m thinking if we call a truce, we’re both going to be a whole lot happier for the rest of the days we’re stuck together on this planet.
And we deserve that, don’t we?
Yes, we certainly do.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Author’s Own.