Body Love: A Group Blog
I love my life-giving body. It does not give life only in the biological way, gestating love from seed into a fully-formed human. Its life-giving is regenerative, infinite. Loving one’s own body sustains one’s offspring long after they have left the breast. When my daughter sees me caressing my mommy tummy in the mirror, watches me lovingly feed my dark brown skin with shea butter and smiles, witnesses me stroking my thick hair, hears me singing made-up love songs to the stretch marks that lounge near my hips and waxing poetic about these thick thighs … it gives her life all over again.
— A.D. Lowman —
I’ve always had small joints for a not so delicate person—slender wrists, knobby knees, pointy elbows, bony ankles. But now I have a cankle—swollen, doughy, thick. Twelve months ago, I thought I’d broken my left ankle. Nope, my doctor said. Too bad. Bones heal quick. Ligaments, he grimaced, and after forty…. I get it. My body is made up of vintage parts. Like Cankle, whom I’ve grown to admire. First walking again, now doing everything pretty much. Cranky, sore, after a hike or a game of tennis, I ice her, I elevate her, I tell her, take your time.
— Liz Tynes Netto —
Raised by women willing to go to extreme and dangerous lengths to be thin, it’s hard to love my fat body. All my life hearing “you’d be pretty If you lost weight.” The concept of loving or accepting myself where I am never made it to my soul as a chubby child or teen. Now an obese adult, the message is engraved in my roots, covered in scars and layers of chocolate flavored regrets. I count myself lucky to have friends that try to hack through my jungle of insecurities. One day I’ll hear them and see myself with new eyes.
— Alisha Mercier —
Avascular necrosis, second metatarsal, right foot.
The collapsed, bloodless joint
an artifact from my first half-marathon at 10.
My father said my bones were too young,
but I was too young to care.
(He ended up being right.)
We trained early.
Slow, I often made him late
for his patients.
After the race,
the key to the elevator at school.
Years later, the progressive degeneration keeps me honest.
I run, or I don’t.
If I do, afterward, I wear clogs,
the inflexible sole steadying the sore joint.
The pain is chronic, close, exacting.
Dad and I confer.
— Louise Rozett —
I once thought my body would be perfect if I ran more, lifted more weights, drank more water. Instead, my imperfect body was a disappointment: too much fat and not enough curves. My outside was a picture of my inside: a depressed, neglected soul. At fifty-one, I got serious about loving myself. I stopped ingesting fast-food, alcohol, sugar, white flour. Walking replaced heavy workouts. I journaled. I rejected negative self-talk. I lost fifty pounds. This didn’t bring perfection, but it did stop the cycle of self-abuse. What I love most about my body is how forgiving it has been to me.
— Janet Rodriguez —
I have hands that a writer would describe as belonging to a musician or a painter. Graceful wrists and soft palms attached to long fingers with the skin delicately stretched over bone. I have a tiny dot on the middle finger of my left hand. They would be written as gracefully ghosting over piano keys, or gently gliding an oil stained paint brush over a cloth canvas. I have done both of these and my hands are good at neither of these things, long fingers stumbling over each other. But, what my hands can do is take the jumbled words in my mind and turn them into something beautiful.
— Alexis McCadney —
Croak Them Toads. My siblings used to call me Bucky O’Hare, intergalactic leader of The Righteous Indignation—pretty punk, right? Except for the fact that they used the nickname to pick fun at my enormous front teeth—except for the fact that I ran away from the name when I got braces, but also—except for the time the dentist balked at my mutant-sized teeth and practically begged me to file them down, and for one reason or another which might have something to do with the fact that I felt a bit of “righteous indignation”—I refused and showed off my pearly whites for the entire universe.
— Cristina Medina —
Go through my phone’s camera roll and you’ll find a few too many pictures of my hands. I often joke that I should be a hand model, but I’m prone to picking my nails to pieces when I’m anxious, so that really wouldn’t work. Piano hands, my mother used to say. I still think I might learn to play those eighty-eight keys someday. I love them most when the veins stick out from below the surface, like streams winding through the wild. Even if I never play the piano, at least those streams will still bring me to all these words.
— Alisha Escobedo —
Three Junes ago, I thought my father was going to die. This was the summer when my anger beat down on us like the Atlanta heat. Yet, seeing him helpless and ill on the kitchen floor set an earthquake in my heart that betrayed my hatred. The thought of losing his hands struck me, the hands that made me feel safe. He wouldn’t die until years later. When he did, I realized my hands are the best part of me. They are hands he gave me, the ones that keep his memory close, and remind me: Do good and be good.
— Regan Humphrey —
What I love about my body are the stories it carries. Connection. Genes. Scars. The uncontrollable one-eyed wink of my grandfather; the small, wrinkly fingers of my grandmother. The hair that always looks like I tried even when I didn’t of my mother; the chunky knees of my father. An embarrassment. A celebration. Acceptance. Fighters. Those who fled. Immigrants. Those who fought to erase their painful past; my body standing on their shoulders. Inked initials of grandparents lost; inked roman numerals just above my elbows of the year of my parent’s birth. Because my story isn’t just mine, it’s theirs too.
— Lisa Croce —
I fell in love with a part of me once. I was younger then, twenty-something, the age I was supposed to be a woman. But my body was thin and boxy. Handsome, they said. But I wanted to be lovely and full of curves—I wanted a body that pushed back against a world full of supposed to’s. Wishing for more, I stood naked by the mirror, pinching skin off bones, until I got to a nowhere part, in between the torso and arm pit, and grabbed a piece of curve that dimpled when I squeezed—the woman in me.
— Sarah Haas —
I love my glorious, long, goddamn perfect legs.
My loyalty towards them has never wavered.
Unlike my other fickle, recessive genes. Oh no. God said
“From complicated parents, you got what society will favor.”
I am conceited about them. For serious. They’re perfection.
Models get insurance for the legs I got.
I mean, have you seen my legs? They get all my affection.
They’re beautiful! I won the leg jackpot.
Other insecurities got thrown up on the shelf,
as my fucking gorgeous legs taught me to love more of myself.
— Stephanie Teasley —
About the art: Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum is a figurative artist and designer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Driven by a fascination with ancient mythologies and scientific theories, Sunstrum muses on the origins of time, geological concepts, and ideas about the universe. Her works on paper, large-scale installations, and stop-motion films are rooted in autobiography, addressing the development of transnational identities, human connections, and cross-border rituals. Having lived in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the United States, Sunstrum developed an alter-ego, Asme, to convey her evolving selfhood. The image of Asme is often super-imposed with overlapping gestures as a means of suggesting compounded time, illustrating her universal, atemporal existence. Sunstrum’s landscapes also expand on themes of timelessness; she reconstructs sites both real and imagined to reveal the small scale of individuals within the vast universe.
Excerpted from a text commissioned by Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg for MOMO The Magazine; launched September 2017.