I want to tell you, once and for all, how much I love you and how sorry I am for the times when I didn’t love you.
Body, I’m sorry for sighing at you when dresses didn’t look how I wanted them to. They didn’t hang right, they didn’t fit right; my tummy was too big and my chest wasn’t big enough. I’ve learned to like that you are soft. I’ve learned to stop pinching my belly and to start gently squishing it so it makes a funny little face. Belly faces are the best. It is a simple, childish pleasure and I thank you for that.
Body, I’m sorry for refusing to let you wear comfy leggings and cute shorts and pretty skirts. I didn’t like my legs, you see. My thighs were too big and wobbly and hairy. It was easier, less embarrassing, to just hide you away in three-quarter-length tracksuit bottoms. I’ve learned to like my legs too. They can dance (what they lack in skill, they make up for in enthusiasm) and chase dogs and run for buses (if adequately persuaded).
Body, I’m sorry for all the times I have held my mouth open and wept angry tears at my teeth. We made them like that; we made our rabbit front teeth and our wonky jaw and our overbite. But that’s okay – nobody cares and nobody notices. You still articulate my arguments, vocalise in three languages and pronounce my passion for everything. We might not have the best face, the prettiest face, the face that will launch a thousand ships, but it’s a good face all the same. It is a happy face. It is a face that people can approach when they are sad and scared and insecure. That’s what matters.
Body, I will try to remember all the wonderful things you have done and will do.
I will remember your feet – feet that have stood on the ancient cobbles of Rome and the tors of Devon and the beaches of Murcia, feet that stood firm and did not flee when I talked of feminism in front of my whole school. They might tremble and shuffle and dawdle. They might trip me up foolishly, but they are feet with dignity and integrity.
I will remember your hands – hands that have cradled three brothers, hands that have comforted and consoled, hands that can write and draw and create. They might be clumsy hands that smash and knock and unbalance. They are chaotic, but they can bring their own chaos into order; they don’t need anyone to do it for them. I am as Nims called his love: “A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only with words and people and love, you move at ease.”
I will remember your words, Body. I will remember how you tell people they are beautiful and they should love themselves as they are. You should save that advice for yourself too.
Body, I love you. It has taken me a long time to love you, to find things to like about you. There will be days when I still do not love you like I should, but, even on those days, remind me.