A Love Affair

I love my body. Since I live in a world that polices women’s bodies, one that tells us we are disgusting or imperfect no matter what we do, I make that statement with full feminist and political intent as well with all the passion that the word “love” implies.

I love my hips and my butt, both their shape and their power. I love being tall and large, a physical presence. I love my muscled legs and my perfect-sized (to me) breasts and my nose that juts out a little bit. And I really love my hair in all its abundance and chaos.

I’m comfortable in this body. I’m glad I learned how to be physical in it, glad I know how it moves and what it does.

It’s the perfect body for me, but it’s not a perfect body by cultural definitions. I’m happier about that as I get older, because I don’t find myself mourning the loss of the prettiness that substitutes for real beauty in my culture. I never figured out how to look that kind of pretty and now I don’t care about it. My face remains my face just as my self remains myself.

I was born biologically female. My body reflects that and I’m fine with it. I may be about the height of the average U.S. man and I have a deep voice, but no one assumes I am male. I cannot wear men’s clothes — they fit wrong around my hips and breasts. Even if I shaved my head, I doubt anyone would assume I was not a woman.

(I have been tempted to try my hand at male drag to gain an understanding of the experiences of men in this society, but I think the physical effort to do so would be highly uncomfortable. Flattening my chest enough wouldn’t be too difficult, but I don’t know how to bind in my hips and butt.)

I claim this womaness, but it’s a political claim. In truth, I don’t have a strong sense of gender, in part because what I know of gender is a cultural construct and, as I’ve written before, I sucked at being a girl. But also, I never wanted to be a boy.

I have always wanted to be who I am, in this body — this definitely female biological body — and to live as I want to and do what I want regardless of what the gender coding dictates. And that, too, is a political statement in a world that says girls can’t do this and boys must act like that, not to mention one that still pushes back against trans and nonbinary people.

Would I change things about my body? Yes, but only if I got them in addition to the things I already have, not at the expense of giving up other things. It would be nice to be more flexible — I couldn’t do the splits or backbends when I was five, much less now. It would be nice if my joints didn’t ache, if my knees could still bend all the way, if my stomach didn’t occasionally rebel at the spicy food I’ve always loved.

And I’d like to be taller. I always wanted to be six feet tall.

But those things aren’t dealbreakers. I’m content to love my body as it is.

I look in the mirror these days and often see my grandmother. That’s not bad, either. If I can’t have her around anymore, I can at least see where I came from. I appreciate the genes that came from my ancestors.

And I appreciate the time I’ve spent learning how to be at home in my body. As with most things in life, my body is a combination of my family heritage and what I’ve done with it.

I love how that all worked out.

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About Nancy Jane Moore

Nancy Jane Moore's science fiction novel, The Weave, is now available in print and ebook versions from Aqueduct Press. Some of her short stories are now appearing as reprints on Curious Fictions. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe. Her BVC ebooks can be found here. She also has short stories and essays in most of the BVC anthologies. In addition to writing fiction, Nancy Jane, who has a fourth degree black belt in Aikido, teaches empowerment self defense. She is at work on a self defense book that emphasizes non-fighting skills.

Comments

A Love Affair — 9 Comments

  1. I happily agree with your sentiment. I’ve always been petite and wanted to be taller, with longer legs. Kitchens are almost always designed by tall men. I can’t reach anything without a ladder. Successful dancers are almost always taller with long legs, but thinking back on the life of a professional dancer, I’m glad I didn’t make the cut at that audition for the San Francisco Ballet back when I was 20 and had no hope of growing taller or leggier.

    I like being female, except when I’m bullied about being merely a woman by men with anger issues and inadequate… you know. Then I just put them in my novels and kill them off most messily.

    But being female, I rarely wear skirts any more. Jeans are more convenient and comfortable. I know how to move in this body and I like it.

  2. I managed to dodge a lot of body dysphoria. If you gave me the power to change my physical form, the top five things on the list would all be medical improvements: better eyes, better teeth, better ankles, skin that doesn’t scar so easily and painfully, and no tinnitus. After that we’d move onto a generalized “I’d like to get back the resilience I had when I was twenty” (she said, rubbing at the neck that’s been hurting for two days). Eventually I would probably get around to more cosmetic improvements — I’d like to be stronger, but I keep being too lazy to do the weightlifting required to change that, plus we’re back to the medical improvements, because I have some wrist problems that make that difficult. But even then, I still wouldn’t be looking for bigger breasts or a more Hollywood-glam face or anything like that.

  3. I strive for your attitude, but I’m not there yet. I’ve been striving in that direction for decades: the best I can say is that I love parts of my body, and many of my body’s attributes. I come from long-lived stock: I’m hopeful that I will have time to learn to love all of my body.

    • I think the turning point for me was when I fell into the habit of walking 10,000 steps a day and started to lose weight without otherwise paying attention, dieting, or doing extreme exercise. (There’s nothing extreme about my walking.) The extra weight I put on while dealing with my father’s last years melted away even though I sometimes got in my steps by going out for ice cream. Then I leveled off at a weight that feels right to me. I also started making a point of getting enough sleep, something I resisted for most of my life. Which is maybe to say that I began to love my body after recognizing what made it happy and incorporating more of that into my life. Still working on understanding this.

        • Back when I was in my 30s and could still run, I kept my weight where it felt right without worrying about what I ate by jogging a few times a week. Apparently walking enough — and the sweet spot seems to be the 10,000 steps or about five miles a day — does about the same. And since walking is also very good for my mental state and my creativity, it seems to be the perfect thing for me to do.

          I do want to emphasize that I have managed to get my weight to a point that feels comfortable to me, rather than to have hit some arbitrary idea of what is “right.” I suspect that point varies a lot among people.