I want to start a revolution – NAMING instead of shaming our bodies. Sure, we have voices out there that shut down the body shamers that call us too fat, ugly, chunky, chubby - the list can go on but simply do the opposite of shaming which is espousing acceptance in my opinion is not enough. It is akin to positive thinking your way out a distasteful behavioral pattern or situation.

Imagine you hate your job, H-A-T-E- it, suddenly telling yourself that I love my job, I love my job does not address the hate, it only invalidates your feelings. Changing your language about your job and looking for what it provides for you, such as money to pay rent, groceries, clothing, etc. Sure, you may not like it BUT it does provide a service for you. That switch in language and perspective will shift your cognition. Suddenly you are in a position of power, to be able to use your job to meet your needs, you are no longer victim to something you HATE.  Honestly how can you HATE something that allows you to live in something other than a cardboard box. If you were to start naming what your job does FOR you it just may become more tolerable or at least provide you with a way to continue to support yourself while you seek other employment.

The same applies to our bodies, naming what your body has done for you instead of what it is not according to unrealistic expectations and standards is empowering and an empowered body is a force to be reckoned with.

My body has been around for close to 55 years, some glorious years and some really hard years. I marvel that my body is still here. It has seen family, friends, husbands, lovers, jobs all come and go but my body has carried me forward no matter what. It has been there even when I punished and abused it, stuck around when everything and everyone else did not. So why did I criticize it so very harshly?

Given that it has been around for some time that means there are sags and wrinkles in places I did not even know could sag or wrinkle - you might know of what I am speaking, suffice it to say that little tidbit of information was not in the owner’s manual or my first box of tampons.

When I was younger my body was told, it would not live, it would not walk past 25, guess what, it did! Sure, ultimately it is not going to live forever but it sure lived longer than it was told when I was a child. My thank you to my body was to abuse it with drugs, alcohol and every diet thought of yet it persisted and I criticized it. Once clean and sober my body carried me into a sport that is hyper critical of bodies, a sport where measuring up or shall I say measuring down is important and on top of that, your every race is timed for all to see. My body took the training and carried me through and I criticized it.

It has continued to persist right up to where it is today and still I criticized it.

Recently, I was standing in front a mirror naked, noticing, as I do, that my body is wrinkled, a little worn, a little saggy, not quite what it once was and it struck me that it would never be what I tried to criticize it into being. Time had run out for it, but instead of being dramatic about it, I looked at it with compassion for all its gallant effort but more important I began to appreciate and thank my body for all it has done for me.

My body has taught yoga for close to 25 years, it has weight trained, done Pilates. It has lost 40 pounds only to gain 20 back to lose, to gain. It has run 15 marathons, 3 Ironman, 9 half Ironman (including a first place in Athena division, otherwise known as the fat chick category). It has completed countless ½ marathons, road races and shorter triathlons. It has propelled me forward in cycling events and to a Gold Medal in cycling in the world games. It has flirted with and been bruised by pole dancing and belly dancing all in the hopes of being more graceful.

It has carried me into dangerous situations as part of my job and held me firm and safe until I could exit.

It gets me out of bed every morning and usually a few times a night. It carries me throughout my day. It carries groceries, picks up cats and dogs and children. It hugs my loved ones and reaches for out for more love.

It has been hurt and still performed, it has been sick and still soldiered on. It has held me upright and moving forward during what I thought was unbearable heartbreak. It has laid me flat on my back when it needed a rest and I did not listen.

It has kept me alive for all these years, it is resilient, strong, tough and vibrant.

How could I stand in front of a mirror and criticize THAT?

HOW could I shame THAT body? In that moment of naming all my body has done FOR me while scanning its beauty, tears of gratitude started to flow. Tears of gratitude and tears of sadness, tears for how amazing it is and how sorry I am for all the years of abuse, punishment and criticism I have made it endure. If I was me, I would have left a long time ago.

I am talking about my body and while it is amazing in its right, there are bodies out there that endure or suffer so much and keep going. Bodies that birth babies, fight cancer or other illnesses and disease, those bodies and their ability to heal and fight astounds me. Bodies in chronic pain, those bodies and their strength blow my mind.  Bodies that have been mutilated in the name of religion or malnourished or beaten, those break my heart. Bodies that have endured war, rape and other devastating atrocities, those bodies take my breath away. Bodies that are scarred from mastectomies, genital mutilation and other surgeries, those leave me gob smacked and in awe. All these bodies are warriors, glorious goddesses and glorious warriors.

I ask you, why would we ever shame a body. Why would we shame a body that ate to keep it safe from sexual assault, or ate to hide the pain from being bullied, or abandoned or one that purged to keep to the demons at bay? Why would we shame that?

Why would we shame a body that inherited generous hips and thighs from grandma or bunions from rocking high heels when young. Why would we criticize and shame a pooch that is the result of birthing three children or scars from cesareans? Why would we say laugh lines are undesirable, it means we laughed so fucking much that we got permanent lines - how fantastic is that?

IMAGINE how your body would respond, how it would thrive if it was thanked, adored and given what it needs for all its hard work, for all it is does for you.

IMAGINE that mind, BODY, soul relationship.

Today, while my body may not be as tight as it once was, I thank it.

While there are, some stretch marks from years of over-eating and punishment, I thank it.

While my breasts that were once perky are now headed downtown, I thank it.

While my arms continue to wave goodbye long after I have stopped, I thank it.

While I can no longer crack walnuts with my thighs or bounce quarters off my butt, I might be able to crush a pre-cracked peanut shell or let a quarter get stuck in the dimples and for that I thank it.

My body, like your body, is a work of art, it tells a story, the story of my life and it has been one hell of a ride!

I wonder if you knew you were to die in six months would you really spend your time beating yourself up for not having the photo-shopped perfect body or would you bow to worship it?

Would you spend your days thinking about getting balloons implanted into your butt, biceps, cheeks, boobs or would you grab your own cheeks, squeeze the bejesus out of and love them?

Would you marvel at the breasts that fed humans, HUMANS, little people ate from and off you, that is freaky cool.

How have we become so shallow that we disregard the temple that our souls and minds resides in?

Mind, BODY, soul connection.  How can you be connected when your soul is saying one thing and your mind is destroying your body? That is not connection, that is disconnection, separation, rejection and abandonment.

Instead of comparing and shaming let’s remember how incredible each and every one of our bodies really is.

Instead of shaming, let’s start NAMING – naming all the wild things it does every day, like your heart beating, your organs functioning, your legs carrying you, your hands reaching for and touching what they want and need, what they love. Your eyes that see so much.  

Let’s start a revolution, let’s stop shaming the body and stop shaming the body shamers.

Let’s start NAMING how cool we really are.

Disclaimer: I never could crack walnuts with my thighs or bounce quarters off my butt cheeks. In the spirit of full disclosure, I could probably crack a hard-boiled egg between thighs. OK, a peeled soft boiled egg and the only time I bounced a quarter was on a hotel room bed and that damn near took my eye out.

* PLEASE share so we can start the REVOLUTION and fight for the deep respect our bodies need and deserve!