Okay, but how do I like my thighs more? I don’t want to be a 5’2” petite blonde, because that’s not who I am. But I do not like my thighs, and I don’t think they are changeable!
It’s about accepting where the hate is coming from. Because the hate is something you own and you are the only one who can release it. Everybody has a thing, whether it’s their nose or their belly or their upper arms, so stop thinking that it should be different. It is exactly as it needs to be right now.
extract from Deborah Frances White’s interview with Jessamyn Stanley in her book: The Guilty Feminist
Jessamyn Stanley is very right. Parents are encouraged to help their children identify their feelings to help them understand themselves better and to get to the source of the problem. Yet I have never tried to explore my feelings about my body before. Below is my personal detective work in a form of timed free association writing. If you also have a body part that you don’t like then I encourage you to investigate and get to the source of these feelings in the hope that you can then release them.
As a child we worshipped the gods of rugby, cricket and netball. Those tall and strong bodies made our tiny country known around the world. If you didn’t play a sport for your school then you were “selfish” (Sister Depores c1993).
I was raised in a country with no memory of rationing, no notion of spam. Beef and dairy were our primary exports. We were a country of farmers, climbers, sailors, runners. A country of people who moved for the love of it. I was tall and broad and I fit in.
My body is my home.
My body is my country
I realised this when I moved to England. Fine bone china matched its fine boned people. I held cultural difference in my wide hips and strong thighs. I was returning to the place that generations before me had called home. The coloniser returning. My body that had been raised in a culture of bush walking and beach combing had arrived in a city more populace than my entire country. A fast paced city of concrete and glass where bodies gallery walked and supermarket combed instead.
Now, my body is a map that tells my children’s origin stories. It was once slimmer without stretch marks but I grew two babies. My C section scar is a battle scar; a victory where both mother and child lived when once that might not have been the case. My once perky full breasts exclusively nourished my babies for six months and then provided supplemental emotional and snacking support for another year and a half. I wouldn’t swap my children. I won’t swap my body.
My body was their country
My body was their home.
The source of my dislike of my hips and thighs is a fond memory of life in my twenties combined with a need to fit in. Not just a need to look like shop mannequins, and women on mass media but to look like the slim and non athletic Northern Hemisphere women I see every day. Those women have bodies that tell very different stories. My body tells the story of an athlete, a performer, a mother and a healthy woman in her forties.
My body is my new home.
My body is my new country.