Visible: Reflecting on BARE

BARE is one of the few words that I’ve given thought to prior to the week it occurred. I had plans for BARE. But as the date approached, I chickened out.

You see, a couple years ago I came across an art project consisting exclusively of beautifully lit, black-and-white photographs of women’s thighs. Not in a sexual way. I hesitate to say even in an particularly artistic way. But in a completely, undoubtedly, beautifully real way. There were thin thighs, thick thighs, cellulitey thighs, stretch marked thighs, thighs gaps, thighs that didn’t even separate near the knees. No thighs looked just like mine. Because none of them looked the same. And much to my surprise, for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel ashamed of my legs.

If you were to ask me what part of my body I’m most insecure about, it’s my thighs. Always has been. Even as a small child I tended to sit with my feet pointed so only the balls rested on the ground. I thought it was weird and gross that my legs spread so much when I sat down. I assumed if I could tell this flaw from my own vantage point, surely others could, too. My peers never let me forget that I was heavier than most, so I routinely posed at school to disguise my girth as much as a seven year old can.

When I hit puberty, my thighs grew so quickly that they were striped with deep purple stretch marks. They chafed against each other when I wore skirts. Pants that fit my waist couldn’t accommodate my legs and often I’d have to buy a size or two up (which is particularly traumatic for a girl suffering with anorexia). I don’t know if my ex-husband ever saw the back of my legs in the full light of day during our eight years together. That’s how deep the disdain runs.

So after seeing that art project and becoming so deeply riveted by my lack of insecurity — I wanted to take and post a picture of my bare thighs for this post.

But y’all… I couldn’t do it.

As evident by my other recent posts, I’m struggling with my body right now.  And while an aspect of my head thinks it’d be partially healing to dive in and just do it anyway, my heart is begging for respite. For a small break in the trial.

And as HRH Brene Brown preaches, you should never share a source of shame until you’ve owned it. If I shared such a picture now, I suspect I’d hear lots of love about my bravery, my vulnerability, my beauty. But if one person made the slightest of negative observation, I’d be ruined. And my hair can only be a life preserver so many times before it drowns with me.

So this is my BARE post. This is me telling you that I’m not strong enough yet. That I’m damaged and scared and insecure. That despite the body positivity accounts I share on social media, the beauty myths I deconstruct, and the small steps of allowing my current boyfriend to watch me walk past him naked… I’m still not ready to be quite so bold.

In the meantime, please enjoy these amazing individuals who did what I couldn’t. It isn’t the same project I discovered so long ago, but it has the same heart. Cheers.

This week Steph and I devour Brene’s new book and PROTECT what’s ours…

Check out Steph’s wonderful #VOWbare post here

#VOWbare Reflections

I don’t remember the first time I was naked with a man. I know who it was with, but I don’t remember the moment. What I remember is a time I was naked with you. I’m not sure how far into things we were by that point, but I was in deep enough to have given you everything. You knew it, which is why you must have felt powerful enough to do what you did. We were lying in bed after what I thought was making love—looking back, I realize you have absolutely no idea what that is—and you told me I had a “weird labia.” I am obviously still scarred enough to point out to you, readers, that I do not; I know this because I spent a decent amount of time in gynecologists’ offices objectively making sure. I realize now I should have told you right then and there to fuck off, climbed out of your bed, and never gone back—you were an asshole. You chose something on my body, which I was already insecure about then, that I have absolutely no power to change. I cannot eat less or exercise more to change or tone that shape. You picked that to pick apart, and that is a cruelty I had never known and never will again.

I remember the first time I knew what it meant to love my body. Truly. It didn’t make it out of that Bikram yoga class intact, but at least I knew what if felt like. To appreciate the curve of a hip that is strong enough to run half marathons now and will eventually carry a child. To understand the strength of my spine and all that it can carry. To know I would rather be strong than skinny, healthy despite the size.

At 28, I am finally learning how to feed myself. Recognizing that I like to graze—on small and, whenever possible, shared plates. Accepting that eating mindfully, for this body, doesn’t have to be Whole 30-approved, paleo, or limited to three times a day. Appreciating simple, nearly naked food over complicated meals with used-once-a-year spices.

I know how to be soft, brutally so sometimes, and how to sit with it. To wait out the vulnerability hangover without curling up into the fetal position. To lose what needs to be lost, knowing that ruin is transformation. To love, understanding it’s always, best-case scenario, going to result in eventual heartbreak.

This week, fitting and ironic on so many levels, we try to

protect.


Steph’s BARE mantra: Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. (Brené Brown)

Steph’s Song of the Week: Organs by Of Monsters and Men

& Don’t Miss Lin’s #VOWbare post 

Can We Speak in Cheese Plates? #VOWfeast

Food and I have a complicated relationship.

Some days it’s the ex-boyfriend I send a drunken late night text too even though I know better.
Some days it’s the perfect yoga class.

My interactions with food are a barometer of how I am feeling about myself.

Some days I’m preparing whole foods and healthy meals.
Some days I’m binging pasta boxes.

Food is how I speak most authentically about my feelings for you.

Some days I make homemade cashew cheese for the vegan pizza I crafted just for you.
Some days I say we should go out, because I have no interest in putting my heart on a plate for you.

I know that food is my love language.

Decanting a bottle of red wine hours before it will be poured for Sunday night dinner is perhaps the greatest display of kindness a person can demonstrate. The preparation of that dinner, the greatest of affection. The sharing of the meal, a bond of trust. The second bottle…words we can’t and won’t say but are the most sincere we have ever spoken. Dishes are intimacy.

And after a week of #VOWfeast, I’m know where I have come from and just how far, but I am all too aware of how much I left to do.

This week, we get naked as we

BARE.


Steph’s FEAST mantra: Enough is a feast.

Steph’s Song of the Week: Tribulation by Matt Maeson

& Don’t Miss Lin’s #VOWfeast post