I'm thankful that I have a body in which I am happy, but more than anything, I am thankful that I have a body that I know is my own, and does not belong to anyone else. But it is SO, SO , SO easy to forget that. I often do forget that, so I am declaring; I am taking back my body.
There have been so many blogs, tweets, news articles and the like that are talking about body image, sex education, the church, rape culture, abortion rights, natural beauty and numerous other things and I just feel like shouting at the time of my lungs to every woman and girl to remember that her body belongs to her. Partially this is a reminder, because you owe it to yourself to embrace YOU. But is also partially an assignment to always remember this:
YOUR BODY BELONGS TO YOU. TAKE IT BACK.
I am taking back my body from the advertising that tells me what is or isn't beautiful, that my size dictates my worth (think H&M), or that I am more or less beautiful based on the coverings of my body. Don't get me wrong, I haven't always loved my body - but I've finally come to a point that I do love the skin I'm in, and I'm claiming it as my own. No thanks to advertising campaigns like the Victoria's Secret "Bright Young Things", or the Dove Campaign, or fashion magazines or mean high school girls, or the idiot A&F CEO, I'm taking back my body - curves and blemishes and all; I'm taking back my body that allows me to do my job, hug my family, run with my dog, smile for crazy photos with friends, and devour a delectable bajillion calorie meal with a heavenly glass of wine without worrying about my waste line EVERY TIME I CHEW. I've struggled with body image and weight issues nearly my entire life - at least since I hit double digits in age - but FYI - I'm taking back my body. It is MY BODY, and it is MY job and no one else to allow people in (for betterment and support), or to shut out people (or media, advertising, magazines or down-right crappy people) who do not allow me to own my own skin and LOVE IT.
My body belongs to me, and I'm taking it back.
I'm taking back my body from the religious sources that tell me I should be ashamed of my body, and what it is capable of. Elizabeth Smart didn't want to leave her CAPTOR because she felt ashamed of the ways her body was used. Not because she was afraid of a violent man, but because she was made to feel worthless because of her own body. Oh Lord... literally.... Lord! Lord, remind me that I am a woman. I have fingers, toes, breasts, curves, a vagina, a clitoris, legs (sometimes hairy!), lips, arms, nipples, hair, an ass (cellulite!) and so much more - THAT YOU GAVE ME. I was created in your image. I was created to bring forth life (and probably gain weight while doing it!), and created in such a way that I am allowed to enjoy that creative process we call sex. Dear Lord, please remind me of this every day.
My body was given to me by my Creator, and I'm taking it back from religious sources that want me to be ashamed. DON'T GET ME WRONG, there is still an imperative need to teach young people as they come into their own bodies about the implications of a sexual relationship; it is meaningful, important, often sacred, not something to treat lightly, not set apart from God, moreover it includes the Divine - but neither is it something to be ashamed of.
It is MY body - given to me by my Creator - and I am taking it back.
I am taking back my body from anyone who thinks that it is my fault if I become a victim of violation. The Steubenville rape case comes to mind for sure, but it has only highlighted the "rape culture" that permeates our society in which we seek to blame anything and everyone EXCEPT the violator for the cause of such atrocities. It is MY body and I am taking it back. I shouldn't have to live in a constant state of "protection," just in case someone wants to violate me. Violators are violators. It doesn't matter if my skin is showing, if I've had too many drinks, if I'm walking alone to my car in the middle of downtown, if I'm a minister, a stay at home mom or a stripper - ANOTHER PERSON should not violate me, nor have the right to feel like they can get away with it. Sure, most of us (regardless of profession) use certain techniques as a source of "protection" (carrying pepper spray, never leaving your drink unattended, parking under a light pole). However, I shouldn't have to live in a constant state of "do this so I don't get raped," or have to live in fear that IF something happened to me, I could be BLAMED and not protected by society or my government because I was violated. It's not just about dark alleys and drunken nights either - its the dangerous, dangerous assumption that silence means consent. It's quite the opposite. I haven't said yes just because I didn't say no - I say YES when I say YES - and that is it.
It is MY body - you have no right to it unless it is expressly granted - and I am taking it back.
There are so many more things that I could address. There are so many more blogs and tweets and news articles that have had me questioning what is my responsibility, how other's could say such awful things, where did I go wrong with my body, why I'm not allowed to feel sexy apart from the opinion of another person, and what steps I need to take to make sure I'm not blamed or ashamed. But the bottom line is this. It is MY body. I am taking it back.
I am taking it back from anyone who has ever made me feel less than because of how I look.
I am taking it back from highly processed food that does it no good.
I am taking it back from anyone who has ever made me feel uncomfortable for wearing a certain set of clothing.
I am taking it back from anyone who has considered silence consent.
I am taking it back from companies who value the bottom line far about human life.
I am taking it back from anything that gives me an excuse to not stay active.
I am taking it back from anyone who wants to tell me that God made a mistake.
I am taking it back from anyone who wants to tell me what beauty is.
I am taking it back from anyone who wants to sell me food that isn't food for a $$.
I am taking it back from anyone who determines my worth by the price tag on the clothes they sell.
I am taking it back from excuses I have given about health.
I am taking it back from anyone who I have not given consent to.
I am taking it back from large portion sizes that trick me into thinking I'm still hungry.
I am taking it back from anyone who believes a decision about my body is not MY decision.
I am taking it back from anyone who values my looks, my mind, or my accomplishments or anything else above the love I hope to offer.
I am taking back my body both as a way to say - it is not yours, it is mine - but also as a sense of responsibility and ownership. I have been gifted a vessel to live and enjoy life. I have been gifted a vessel to share love and create vitality. I have been gifted a vessel to make this world a better place. I am taking ownership of my body and responsibility for the way I care for it, and I will surround myself with people and communities that will help me do that in a healthy manner. So if I don't give you consent to touch, comment, value, define or decide for it - then leave it alone.