I suffered from an eating disorder for 15 years and while I got physically well at 28, it’s taken me almost 12 years to feel truly at home inside myself. What follows is a reflection on the “then” and “now” of the journey. Spoiler alert: The “now” is so. much. better. Happy Swimsuit Season to those in the “then,” those in the “now,” and those anywhere in between. Our bodies are miracles. May we all come to know that in our bones.

The body is a separate thing. Unruly and unpredictable, in need of taming. Is an object, groomed, curated, cultivated for consumption; focus on the angles and edges, hip juts, clavicles, shoulder blades. Is a commodity, but only if the angles are acute enough. Softness ruins the brand, is weakness, makes us invisible at best, targets of ridicule at worst. Is inconvenient, its requirements distractions from the superior work of the analytical mind. Is to be conquered, contrived, controlled; pushed to its limits to prove worth and thwart weakness. The body is confusing: we force it into submission and then learn to wield its power, manipulating gaze, luring, enticing to ensure that we won’t be alone. We remain alone. The body betrays. We use it as instructed, only to find ourselves unsafe, pinned beneath, called “tease” or worse. Is dangerous. Is shameful. Is too much. Is revolting. Should be punished. The body is to be saved. Protected. Shrouded. Until it is to be given. Used for the pleasure and incubation of other. Hate the body. Starve the body. Hurt the body. Leave the body.

My body is my home. Animal and wise, deserving of attention. Belongs to me and no one else, nurtured, celebrated, honored for its service; focus on the flutters, the heaviness, the tension, the buoyancy. Is a compass, divining safety from danger, whispering and witnessing, holding the world. My body desires. Needs. Indulges. Delights. Its pleasure is my right and resting place. Nourishing me into safety enough to go toward the hard, tolerate discomfort, lean into white-hot pain. My body tells the truth. Always. Is trust-worthy, sage, and communicative. My body built, birthed, and breastfed babies. Carries them, kisses them, cries with them, models for them that their bodies are their homes, belong to them, can always be trusted. My body reaches for Her body. Flushes beneath her gaze, ignites around her hands. Folds into her angles, melts into her softness, wants, receives, invites, lights fires of its own. My body is a light. I turn myself on. Heal my body. Feed my body. Listen to my body. Stay with my body. Love my body.

Love my body. Love my body. Love my body. Love my body.