NOTE: This is a guest post – a Beauty Is Inside first! Thank you to Brooke Scheinberg for writing this powerful letter just in time for Spring.
Body, it’s me. Can we talk? It’s March 20th and spring has finally arrived. As spring fills the air, there are some things we can always count on– flowers will bloom, birds will gleefully chirp, temperatures will rise, and the media will unleash its seasonal campaign begging me, pressuring me, DEMANDING me to declare war against you.
Magazines and commercials will be asking us if we’re “beach body ready.” They’ll say it’s time to “melt away those love handles” and “get rid of those extra pounds.” Body, last time I checked, we have fat covering our bones, and extra cushioning around our tummy and hips– never has this fat posed a threat to us or to anyone else for that matter, so why must it be so urgently destroyed? Why should we have to make ourselves smaller and smaller to satisfy an ideal of beauty that we never agreed to in the first place?
Advertisers will try to sell us products that will “eliminate unsightly stretch marks.” Body, last time I checked, we have stretch marks–winding, twisting, squiggly pale marks on our thighs, hips, breasts, butt, you get the picture! Despite what the media tells us, you and I know that these stretch marks signify our growth– from a little girl into a woman. These stretch marks formed because I nourished you, fed you, allowed you to develop fully over the years. Why should we feel compelled to erase the very marks that make us human? Magazines incessantly mock celebrities who have cellulite. Body, last time I checked, we have cellulite. The generations of women before us had cellulite too– it’s in our genes. My thighs have ripples and dimples, just like my mother’s thighs, and my grandmother’s thighs, and my great-grandmother’s thighs. When I look at our legs, the cellulite isn’t what strikes me. What strikes me is how our legs supported us and allowed us to stand tall throughout life’s most difficult challenges. Our legs, they did not buckle in times of hardship, heartbreak, and grief, no– our legs kept us moving through life when it seemed impossible. Though we may receive ongoing harassment about the cellulite on our legs, our legs will continue to stand tall and stand up to unrealistic standards of beauty over and over again.
We see commercials for laser hair removal, waxing, and shaving products. Body, this is no secret– we have hair. On our arms, on our legs, on our face, etc. Remember those boys who made fun of us in middle school for having hair on our bodies? Oh, the shame and insecurities we felt back then. Our dark hair carries our history and our heritage– that is nothing to be ashamed of. Those boys, I hope they’ve matured over the years. I hope they don’t humiliate their mothers, their sisters, and their daughters who grow hair on their faces and bodies. I hope they have learned to love and accept women as human beings and NOT Barbie dolls.
Body, the internet keeps telling us we need to “cleanse and detox.” If there is one thing we need to cleanse and detox, I think it is our mind. We need a 24-7 detox from the poisonous messages that have been bombarding us since we were young. Perhaps the weight we’ve needed to lose all along is the weight of society’s judgments surrounding our bodies and our worth.
Body, I want to thank you for never giving up on me. You’ve been there for me when I was not always kind to you. You don’t hold a grudge for all those years I hated you, starved you, overworked you, and treated you poorly. You’ve loved me unconditionally from the second we met, and it’s about time I returned that love. I want to cherish every moment we spend together– basking in our imperfection, existing exactly as we are, and making no apologies. Happy Spring!
About the Author:
Brooke Scheinberg is a licensed social worker currently providing clinical therapy services at a substance abuse clinic in New Haven, CT. A graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Brooke was inspired to become a social worker after seeking treatment for an eating disorder and discovering that recovery is a reality. Using her personal and professional experience, she hopes to help and inspire others on their journey to self-love.