Self Love

The thing about body image.

December 12, 2015

I’ve recently become obsessed with two things.

Lena Dunham’s podcast: “Women of the Hour.” In it, she talks about everything from sex and love, to friendship, to work, to spirituality. But it was her episode called “Body” that really stuck with me.

I’ve only touched upon this topic slightly on my own blog, but it’s something I have severely, severely struggled with my entire adult life. (More on that in a minute.) I was so moved when Lena so openly shared the onslaught of online bullying she has had to endure. She reads some of the most recent tweets, many from other women, who call her everything from a “fat ugly bitch” to a “cooked pig” to a “warthog” to wishing her dead. Let’s all pause. Could you even imagine what that must feel like to be called such things? I know that I couldn’t. And I know I certainly couldn’t go on as courageously as Lena does in this podcast, when she responded with the most eloquent, unapologetic, graceful declaration of self-love I have heard in a long while.

She states:

“The weird thing is, I love my body. I really do. That’s weird for a few reasons. One is that society is sending us a lot of signals that it’s not the type of body that men, or even a jury of my female peers, find attractive. It’s also weird because a big part of my job has been making jokes about my body and showing its secrets parts to millions of people in a less than flattering light. So, you would be safe to assume that I’m driven by some ancient demons. But I’m not. I mean, no more remarkable than the demons that live inside every modern woman chastising herself for simply enjoying an almond croissant. But I can make jokes about my body. Show her off at her least glamorous. And want to know why? Because it’s my body. I know her. I love her. It’s a real “nobody-talks-shit-about-my-mother-but-me” type of situation. I love my tiny breast and my puffy nipples. I love my pot-belly, which I often rub when I am falling asleep like it’s a genie’s lamp. I love my wide pale thighs and my dimpled knees and I even love the way my ass spreads over the toilet seat. I just do. I fall asleep in this body. I wake up in this body. I live the life of my dreams in this body. What choice do I have? And if I could blink and have a different body, I wouldn’t, because this is the body I love.”

The second of my latest obsessions is Amy Schumer, who needs no real introduction. 2015 was undoubtedly a breakout year for Schumer, and I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving and worthy. It has been SO refreshing to see a real woman take a stand on sexuality, feminism, gender equality, body-scrutiny and even gun control. Her Annie Lebovitz photo rocked my world, specifically her caption where she described her own body as:

Amy Schumer

Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman.

All this self-love, honesty and empowerment in the air really got me thinking. How would I describe my own body?

Three words came up for me:

Not thin enough.

Perhaps it all stems from my acting days when I was in my 20s. I was constantly told by every director, casting director and agent that I came across to lose weight. I once had a very famous casting director ask me to stand up out of my chair, turn around in a circle and state my size. “I’m a size 6,” I told him. His reply: “You’ll need to be a size 0 or 2 if you ever want to be an on-camera actress.”   The result of that conversation led to a decade long battle with my body. I didn’t menstruate for years during that time because I was so underweight from all the under eating and overworking out I did. Yah, that shit still plagues me. In a very real way.

Yes, I have my moments now at 34 years old where I feel “good “ about my body, or “in control”, or even “balanced” (which I have mentioned before I think is a fallacy anyway.) The truth is, there hasn’t been one day of my adult life where I felt 100% comfortable in my own skin. Earlier this year, I lost 16 pounds for my wedding and I still didn’t feel thin enough on my actual wedding day. Every single morning I go through an inner-interrogation of what I ate the night before, and the answer will predict if I get on the scale or not. (Yes, I weigh myself practically every day.) It’s a constant work in progress, and it’s women like Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham who so lovingly remind me to shut the fuck up already.

But I didn’t just want to stop my obsession with this newfound inspiration and curiosity around unapologetic self-love with celebrities I’ll never meet. So, I decided to turn to my closest female friends, family and confidantes and ask them how they would describe their body in three words.

Note: in addition to asking them for three words to describe their bodies, I also asked them the question: “Why are we such assholes to it?” I genuinely expected that the responses I would get would be as negative and hateful as mine.

The responses I received were remarkable and shocking. And I would like to take this moment to share each and every one of them with you.

Work in progress.

Faithful. Insightful. Sensitive.

Temperamental. Strong. Adaptable.

Loyal. Forgiving. Mine.

Powerful. Strong. Sexy.

Perfectly imperfect temple.

Total fucking mystery.

Resilient. Miraculous. My-beautiful-home-here-on-earth.

Shifting. Strong. Capable.

Strong. Curvy. Athletic.

Imperfect. In progress. Loved.

Sturdy. Curvy. Healthy.

Not good enough.

Beautiful. Susceptive. Miraculous.

Imperfectly perfect. Purposeful. Awesome.

Capable. Jiggly. Sexy.

I hope these responses inspire you as much as they did me. Because I guess that ‘thing about body image’ is much more hopeful than I even realized. And what I perhaps love the most is that I didn’t need to look further than my own community of fearless, vulnerable, empowered, beautiful and rad babes to find that hope. I encourage you to do some of your own “research” amongst your friends and peers. You might be surprised how much light they have to shine.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one more quote from a recent Lena Dunham podcast. If my life was ever turned into a book, I imagine this would be its title:

I love loving men. But I love knowing women.” 

Thank you to all my beautiful friends who contributed to this blog and to all the women who I don’t know who are reading it. I am grateful for every single one of you.

With so much fucking love,

Jessica

 

 

 

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  • Ashlee Piper

    Super, super post, Jessica. I think we all go through these zany struggles daily and it’s nice to know that we’re together in this, and we can train our brains to see the beauty and bounty in ourselves. <3