Letter to my body

This is the best idea ever. It is not mine. Andrea Owen thought of it, and she did it here. I found her through Plus-Size Models Unite. And now it’s my turn. This is a letter to my body:

Dear Body,

This is surprisingly hard to start. Usually I just write a sentence and go from there. But there’s so much here, that it feels almost impossible. There’s so much history. You’ve been there, through everything. Before I knew who I was, or what it was to be alive, you were there. You were me before I was my mind. Weird, right?

You do everything right. I’m the one who messes things up.

You let me move and walk and breathe and taste and experience pleasure and color and everything. You hardly ever falter.

You must be baffled by me. I’m always telling you you’re not good enough, and here you are, doing everything you need to. You must be thinking, “What does she want from me?”

I get frustrated with you for not fitting random aesthetic standards that you have no good reason to fit. Once, I held you down and tried to cut off your nose. That was incredibly mean of me.

I try to deny you your history. It’s ironic, really, especially because so many Jews who were killed had your features. The nose that I’ve hated, the long, ovaled face with the pale, pale skin. Dark, round eyes, heavy brows. It’s a face at the heart of the faces on the posters. A face that sometimes had no one to defend it. And here I am, safe, but punishing it of my own volition.

I realize that I want to look more normal, even though there is hardly any such thing. It’s your differences that I pick on. Even though your differences are your signature. They are your trademark. They are your evolutionary, genetic fingerprint. They are who you are.

I’m sorry for how easily I condemn you. I hope you understand that I am trying to change. I am trying to get to know you better. I am learning your beauty and your strength. Maybe we can work together more in the future?

The buried truth is, I love you. I’m like a stereotype of a guy from the fifties in a suit; I don’t know how to show love in the right ways sometimes. I need you more than anything. I know it, but I’m able to push it aside. I repress. I conceal. I let myself forget a little. But it’s there. Real respect and admiration. Real trust. You are, after all, amazing. Astounding. Beyond belief. Maybe that’s part of it. Maybe that’s part of why it’s easier to stay fretting on the surface. Because you are incomprehensibly magnificent. Nothing I’ve learned has enabled me to understand you. I should be in endless awe, and instead I’m complaining about the fact that your shoulders don’t have enough definition.

Anyway, thank you. You’ve put up with a lot and you’re still there for me. I want you to know that I’m here for you too. Really, I am.



*  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love the way I look in a mirror at the end of a long hall. I can see my frame. My whole look. I look compact, cute, and lively. I look like I might do a little jump at any moment.

New post about intelligence, and why it’s stupid, at Un-schooled.


Kate on February 9th 2011 in beauty, being different, body

32 Responses to “Letter to my body”

  1. Liz responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    I just LOVE this idea! I think every woman should do this. Great post, Kate!

  2. Angela Jones responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Oh my word, I love this. Great letter, Kate! xx

  3. HUnter4086 responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    “Once I held you down and tried to cut off your nose.” Holy shit, that made me laugh in a horrible shuddery way. I don’t regret the plastic surgery procedure I’ve had, but my God, to put it this way certainly lends an American Psycho-esque edge to things.

    I wonder if my body is even up to hearing from me, at this stage. I’ve been a horrible tenant.

  4. Kate responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Thanks for laughing! I think it sounds really funny, in a dark way. I’m glad someone appreciates it

  5. Stacy responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Ouch. This was an eye-opener. I will be writing my own letter to my body after I take some time to think about and absorb the idea.

    Thanks for another great piece of soul-baring writing, Kate.

  6. JJgal responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    HUnter4086: I think my letter would be sent back marked “Return to Sender”

    Kate: Brilliant, as usual. The cutting the nose part made me laugh too, but really made me think. I wonder if I wrote a letter to just my lungs… if it would help me quit smoking.

  7. monika hardy responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    forgive me Kate.. i’m such a fractal-vision person. so this post, well first of all is beautiful, but makes me think that public ed is writing it to a student.

  8. Deanna responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    I think there are choices we can make. I was a very unhappy teenager and I never dated. I was so envious of the beautiful girls with their dark tans, thick long hair, small noses. I was tall and skinny but I had straggly hair, too much body hair, a bit nose and fair skin that never tanned. I hated the fact that guys didn’t like me and that the hot girls got all the guys.

    So I made some changes: I had a nose job, I learned to take better care of my hair, I waxed my legs etc and I learned to emphasize my good features. All of a sudden, I got dates and guys liked me.

    Two points I wish to make here: I will always feel like the ugly girl inside even though I know I am attractive (although I am not young anymore)and I will always be surprised when a man takes notice of me. I am happily married but it’s still nice to get a look now and then. There are probably lots of women out there less attractive than me who are not the slightest bit surprised when men hit on them or flirt, but that will never be me.

    Second point. Another option is not to change the things that bother you and learn to love yourself as you are. I think that’s a beautiful thing. If that is the decision we make then we really have to come to terms with things. I believe that the women like me who do choose to make changes should not be belittled nor should the women who chose not to change anything. We both make our decisions and we learn to live with them.

    Also…age is a great equalizer. I think that most of those gorgeous girls who went out with the guys I had major crushes on or the girls who went after my one and only boyfriend now look every bit their age and probably could not do the same today. One person in particular…my very best friend…was having sex with my boyfriend (I was still a virgin at this time and I guess that bothered him)and he fell head over heels in love with her and dumped me. She recently contacted me via Facebook and let’s just say…age takes care of a lot of things.

    I’ll get some slack for this post but that’s okay. I think we can have different views and still basically agree.

  9. Lynn responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Wow, what a great eye idea, and as someone else said above, very eye opening, I think I need to do this too! I’m fairly recent reader of your blog, but I LOVE it so far! :)

  10. San D responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Haikus for my body

    I will fill you up
    with small sweets, greens and proteins.
    Please do not explode.

    We have been around
    through cancer and childlessness.
    Now we age, wrinkle and sag.

  11. josie responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Dear Beutiful Body,

    You have treated me so well. Together we took our first breath, our first steps, we had our first fall and felt our first love. Thank you for being my confidante. The one who knows everything about me and only shares what i am willing to share. I promise to love you and care for you. To only put the best of everything in to you and to give you my best effort when strengthening and firming you. I promise to protect you as you have protected me over these harsh crazy years, and to be proud of you. Never to hide and always do what is best for both of us!

    Love, Josie

  12. Kate responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    @San D and Josie
    So beautiful! These pieces should be their own posts.

  13. Mandy responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I’ve said it before, and I will repeat myself here: I love, love love how you can show me something from a completely new perspective, and how it makes me reconsider my assumptions.
    You make THINK!
    And, right now, I’m wondering what my body would say to ME in a letter…

    Unroast: I love how I ain’t too proud to learn from someone nearly half my age.

  14. Kate responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I love that idea! Maybe I should do a post where my body writes back!

  15. Christin@purplebirdblog responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    I love everything about this. I really do. Taking such extensive anatomy classes in massage therapy school has been an amazing reminder of how truly miraculous and extremely meticulous our inner workings are. It’s surreal. One of our instructors told us that a neurologist he spoke to said the coolest thing he’s ever seen is the spinal cord in action in a living person… it doesn’t just sit there… all the little nerves are electrified and dancing like they’re at the rave of the century. So cool. We are ALL damaged and perfect.

  16. Suzanne responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    you really are just a sweet cupcake. this post rocked. it’s a great idea and truly inspiring. :)

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  18. Amanda May responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    “your differences are your signature” – LOVE this. Imagine if everyone looked exactly the same: how boring would that be! And yet we all want to look like whatever is in fashion at the current second. I am going to paste this on my mirror or something. Great post!

  19. Kate responded on 09 Feb 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    I am indeed a cupcake :)

  20. justmama responded on 10 Feb 2011 at 6:09 am #

    What a great post! Absolutely love the word choices and the visual images they conjure. :)
    We have had countless body image talks in our home. (I’m the mother of two grown daughters) If only I had thought to look at the issue from a different perspective, how helpful it would have been.
    As someone else said, “age is a great equalizer”….it’s taken me to middle-age to be even somewhat comfortable with my looks.
    I am gladdened and greatly encouraged to see that someone young is accepting and joyful about herself….and takes the time to encourage others. Good for you! Keep up the great writing!

  21. Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul responded on 10 Feb 2011 at 10:32 am #

    This is powerful. I have tried to make “speaking” to my body a daily practice, as it helps me see it as a trusted friend rather than a saboteur. I also recently posted a letter to my “teenage self.” These kinds of exercises can lead to so much insight and healing. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Virginia responded on 10 Feb 2011 at 10:33 am #

    This is such a brave post — I thought about doing it for about 30 seconds and then I was like “nope, that’s too much, can’t go there.” So seriously? IMPRESSED.

  23. Rita responded on 10 Feb 2011 at 11:54 am #

    holy f*ck. That is the most amazing thing I”ve ever read. Thank you for writing it and sharing it. And I’m sorry. I don’t usually use profanity in my writing, but this one deserved a holy f(ck. xo

  24. Dana Udall-Weiner responded on 10 Feb 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Love that you’ve been able to really think about your face not just as a part of your appearance, but as part of your ethnic and cultural identity. If we could all do this, I think we’d have a much different perspective on our looks, because we’d see in the mirror our mothers, grandmothers and others who share our background. Disliking our features–or our bodies–probably represents internalized racism and sexism. Which is pretty horrible to think about.

  25. B1 responded on 10 Feb 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this and I’ve loved a lot of the responses. I don’t think I view it quite the same as anyone else that has posted thus far. My letter would be something along the lines of…

    Dear Body,

    You are the shell that has been housing me for all these 46 years. In that time I’ve broken supports, cut windows into walls, created another house, and more recently, I’ve been letting you go to waste and become cluttered beyond belief inside. In all these years you have rewarded me with great immunity, fast repairs, and keeping the outside looking much newer than your years. I know the day will come when I will leave and you will crumble to dust, but I vow to make some changes and show you the appreciation you deserve for putting up with me for so long.

  26. JJgal responded on 11 Feb 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Ashley: Your mention of writing a letter to your teenage self inspired me. (And Kate, your body letter led to this of course.)

    Reading everyone’s comments has given me many ideas. I think the idea of writing a letter to any part of you (physically, emotionally, etc) is a fantastic way to be at peace with yourself and the things you aren’t comfortable with. I used to journal and write daily. Stories, songs, what I loosely call poetry. But I have had writers block for ages (7 years!). I’ve been wanting to start writing again but every time I try I just stare at the blank page and don’t know where to begin. Journaling has even become difficult. After reading this blog for a while and especially reading this post, the fire is burning again and I am so psyched. I have a list of letters I should write now. To my body, to specific parts of my body. To my childhood self. To my “lost my way, made some really poor decisions in my 20′s” self. To my “oh gosh now I’m in my 30′s and am trying to leave those mistakes in the past” self. Thank you thank you thank you for this wonderful idea.

    I’ve heard something that really is powerful and would like to share it here. About being a good friend to yourself. I tell this to people who come to me with issues or struggles who are very hard on themselves, and I need to remember to apply the advice to myself sometimes. When you’re feeling down, negative, low, and “beating yourself up” over something, imagine your friend came to you with a worry, a conflict, a tough decision, a negative assessment of themselves or what they are going through, and was saying the negative things you’re saying to yourself now. What would you say to them? How would you treat them? Would you beat them up the way you’re beating yourself up? No, of course not. So why do we do it to ourselves? Try to use that same encouraging tone wahen talking to yourself and it will help tremendously. I think this letter concept follows the same idea and it’s a great tool to use in many situations.

  27. Louise, aged 15 responded on 11 Feb 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    What a beautiful idea!
    What a wonderful letter!
    I must try this! I think it’s my favourite post – so far!

  28. Angelamaphone » Bookmarks: February 8th – February 13th responded on 13 Feb 2011 at 10:10 pm #

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  31. Andrea Owen responded on 21 Feb 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    Sorry for being late to this party, but, Kate, this is so beautiful. I laughed and got misty-eyed. My favorite: “Because you are incomprehensibly magnificent.”

  32. Guest Poster Dawn Allison « NOLAFemmes responded on 23 Feb 2011 at 8:03 am #

    [...] is different… a bit weird, really. But I’ve written a letter to my body after reading Kate’s who was inspired by Andrea whom she found at Plus Size Models Unite. As awkward as it is, it really [...]