Blood flows, oxygen is inhaled, muscles stretch. Our bodies are meant to be used, meant to move, work and play. The body houses everything necessary to accomplish these things – our mind, our soul/spirit, our personality, our intelligence, our preferences and our beliefs. We focus so much on the exterior of the body and how it looks that we often forget why we have a body in the first place.
I went to a Memorial Day cookout this weekend and played volleyball for most of the day. It was an amazing feeling to jump, run and dive without wondering what I looked like. No one cared whether I was wearing makeup or not, they just wanted me to not suck at serving and passing. They didn’t care that I was sweaty because it meant I was working hard. The grass stains on my pants didn’t mean that I was ugly or un-feminine, but that I was diving on the ground and really getting into the spirit of competition. I had so much fun.
Today, my muscles are incredibly sore. Everything hurts – my back, shoulders, quads, everything. I have color on my skin from a long day in the sun, and a few bruises on my legs. These marks are reminders that I used my body – I put it to work and challenged it to perform. For one day I didn’t feel like a statue, painted and clothed and placed in the public eye to be gawked at and judged. I wasn’t standing still, trying to take up as little space as possible and hoping to go unnoticed. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I yelled, laughed, danced and tried to take up as much space as I could (at least on the volleyball court).
It brought me back to my tomboy days. All the way through high school I was a competitive athlete. I focused intensely on my training and was always pushing myself to be better. Though I was slightly self-conscious about my body and my appearance back then, it was never as overwhelming as it is now. At least, it wasn’t something that caused me extreme anxiety. I was so focused on what my body could do, that what it looked like was less important. Since high school, I have participated to a smaller degree in sports and continued a fairly active lifestyle, but have lost the “body as a machine” mentality. This weekend showed me that I need to head back in that direction. I want to take pride in a healthy, capable body. I want strong muscles, endurance and flexibility. I’m hoping that refocusing will eradicate some of my BDD compulsions and some of the negativity surrounding how I view myself, just as it did this weekend.
I feel like I should end this post with a giant roar of accomplishment. ROOOOOOOAR!!!!