What I learned from a midnight swim.
Maybe it's because it was the first time I had ever been skinny dipping (I know. I am that person.) that the memory of standing at the shore of the Puget Sound in my towel from a couple of weeks ago is still so potent in my mind.
Maybe it's because for that week, I had been under the spell of genius artists and I had come to think of them more as people with beautiful brains than with beautiful bodies.
Maybe it's because when we finally threw off our towels at the edge of the rough sand and ran into the water screaming at the top of our lungs trying not to see anyone else, the water was very cold. Cold enough to shock my body into being refreshed but not cold enough to make me feel paralyzed. So I tread water for half a minute or so, loving the feeling of the water on my body.
As I turned toward the shore (which I could hardly see in the dark), I saw people running back out of the water, and even though I was specifically trying NOT to look at anyone, sometimes bodies would come in and out of my line of view and I would crack up with delight and then look away when someone was completely unabashed about their body. It was so refreshing. I wanted to be more like that.
Once we were all fully clothed again, we ate popcorn on the rug near the fire and laughed and talked about the whole experience. I somehow felt like I had a little more respect for each of them, or love for them, or some new connection that would bind us together forever having all gone swimming together.
As I was thinking about the experience, I began to be disappointed in how I see my own body.
I've grabbed the skin around my middle and waved it up and down about as often as I sleep. And I know I'm not telling a unique story. I think all people have their own thing like that, even my tiny Japanese friend who used to pinch the smallest bit of skin on her forearm to show me how much weight she had gained.
This is all to say that I have issues with my body, and I know pretty much every woman does. I've tried to hide my body, sort of tried to pretend I don't have a body. But all of these thoughts about my body are so on my mind right now because I had to face up to how I feel about my body this last week. Twice. Somehow we lucked out and got our family's pictures taken twice in a week. I tried to hide behind Michael as much as possible. Last night we got some of the pictures back and I braced myself, not knowing if I really wanted to see the gallery. Somehow I loved the images and was disappointed with what my body looks like at the same time. And Michael thought I looked good in all of them. Which made me start to think it was something in my mind that was the problem and not so much with my body.
Then I watched a documentary about how it is possible to love your body for the way it is. That the "perfect body" is a construction. That it is a powerful (and possible) thing to accept and love our bodies for however they look. That healthy can look a lot of different ways. I know I'm not saying anything you haven't heard before. But somehow Taryn Brumfitt did say it in a way I hadn't heard before.
So I guess I just want to add my voice to the crowd of people saying we need to love and take care of our bodies. I'm the first one to say I need a lot of work in this area. Especially postpartum. And it's harder than I always think it will be. But I truly believe our relationships with our bodies affect the true and good messages we want to bring to the world, whether it's through our art or our businesses or our families. For me, I want women to know how to create art that impact the world. And to do that well, I want to start with me. I want to change the way I look at other women. I want to stop seeing them as people I should be jealous of. I want to do that in every area of my work. I want to stop having my models looking down and away from the camera. I want them to look straight into the camera fearlessly. With confidence, beauty, elegance, and power. Because to me, I want to feel like every woman is on that rug in front of the fireplace where we sat and ate popcorn and chocolate together. Where I think everyone felt a little more loved and a little more beautiful.
What has been your journey to love your body? Where do you want to go? I'd love to hear over on Instagram.
Photo by my friend Megan Morgan.