by Ashley Perez
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The following is an article our contributor Ashley Perez had published on The Conversation, which we thought the readers of Know Your Value would also enjoy. You can read it in full below, or check it out over there.
As a young girl, I spent most of my childhood fascinated by my body, stunned that it could turn scrapes into scabs, run up hills and chase boys around the playground. But then puberty happened and the body that was once my friend, became an unknown enemy of sorts.
I matured early, which meant for me the parts of my body that as a woman make me the most feminine, made me feel the least “girly” as an adolescent. Not only did I have body parts that no one else did, but my body was doing things I didn’t fully understand. Therefore it was around that time that I decided the best course of action would be to hate my body. If it was going to commit mutiny against me, then I certainly wasn’t going to love it. I’d hide it under baggy clothes, feed it junk food and stare at in the mirror to make sure it knew how much I disapproved.
I think we all go through something like this, a stage of panic when our bodies are changing against our will, and because we are so young when it happens, our first response is not gratitude for giving us the gift of womanhood, but horror at betraying us! The problem is, the horror doesn’t disappear and instead it turns to hatred.
We learn very quickly from society and our peers that you’re not supposed to love your body – as if liking your body is an offense against womanhood and our mutual obsession over “what could be better.” So instead we join the conversation of consternation and begin what seems like a lifelong battle with our bodies. But in our bitterness, we often forget the simple beautiful truth that our bodies are on our side!
It’s time for a truce. We have forgive our bodies for the changes they brought during our adolescence, and forgive ourselves for being so hard on them since. The reality is that our bodies are incredible; they can climb mountains, swim through oceans, embrace our family and comfort our friends, and yet we treat them like disposable waste. We consistently abuse them with bad foods, no exercise and no love, and yet they are still on our side.
If there is one thing to always be grateful for, it is your health. So instead of looking in the mirror and criticizing your body for everything it is not, take today to thank your body for everything that it does and is. Living a life of gratitude is about looking at each day and realizing that the things in our life that we deem to be ordinary occurrences are actually everyday miracles. You are alive and breathing, and whatever your dreams are for today, your body wants to help you get there. We live in a world where things won’t always go your way, and people won’t always be looking out for you, but at least for today you can say, “Dear body, thanks for being on my side.”