• Amanda Ashley

My Body

I am seeing more and more people talk about their experiences navigating external expectations of what their bodies 'should' look like. I like these conversations; because they bring light to a dark subject. I do not like the pain, the shame, the insecurity and the self-loathing that people feel and experience. Unfortunately, I recognize and can relate to many of their feelings and experiences. Please note these experiences are not regulated to any gender, they cross gender and affect all humans. I am not only seeing models or moms having these conversations, I am seeing thought leaders and athletes joining in. Our culture of be all, do all and shame if you can't, won't or don't is a nightmare of epic proportions.

Growing up I had experiences that taught me that my 'looks' were subjective, depending on who was 'viewing' me and from what perspective. Knowing this did not make me immune to insecurity or the effects of body shaming, sometimes it made those feelings worse. Once upon a time my skin was smooth and flawless, stomach flat, tits perky and very little jiggled, wiggled or worked it's way south - but my body is not an object, to be viewed through a narrow lens. I am also not an infant, not a child, not a teen, etc... If I had only wanted be to be one thing, maybe I would be okay (Read: NOTFUCKINGLIKELY) with being judged so narrowly. I didn't want to appear a certain way, I wanted to experience life and I wanted to BE A CERTAIN WAY; KIND, RELIABLE, COMPETANT & CARING. It took me a long time to get here. It has been a difficult journey to be able to feel and say: my sense of self is not defined by someone's idea or opinion of my appearance: it is defined by my intellect, my emotional intelligence and my ability, by my purpose, my hopes, my desires and ambition to live fully.

As I've aged and dealt with my own changing looks and body; I've realized that when I sit with myself, by myself; I like how I've aged, who I am, who I am becoming. As they often do for me, tangled thoughts became words.

We all deal with many conflicts and emotions in how we are seen and heard in this world. My sincere hope is that we can catch a glimpse of not only our own but of others courage, heart and inherent goodness. The traits that make us beautiful from the inside, that beauty which is real, tangible and permanent. It is not momentary or flawless, it is permanent and flawed, curious, wise, funny, undone, caring and is the embodiment of love and belonging.

My Body

My body. There are many like it; some are older or younger, some are taller or shorter, some are leaner or curvier, some are healthier or iller, some are smoother or lumpier, some are more loved or reviled…

But this one...this body...this is mine.

After 5 decades in this body, I have come to know many things about it.

It’s creator’s are dead and there is an ache deep within my marrow of grief from their deaths.

My body has stretched and given life twice. It tore once and was surgically cut once to deliver the gift of life. It gained massive weight and lost fitness with each pregnancy. Each time it has healed and ‘came back.’ To be clear...I didn’t regress back to an idea of fitness past - I was propelled forward to a new level of endurance and strength.

My body nursed two infants while it recovered from pregnancy and childbirth; it stayed up night after night; rocking sleepless babies. Functioning on little sleep through those long hard months. My body didn’t just function or perform; it excelled and nourished my children.

As consistently as the sun rises I have reliably woken up every day of my life in my body. Some days have been better than others, some have been worse. On the days I didn’t want to end; my body was denied sleep and allowed me to enjoy every moment I didn’t want to let go of.

On the long days; the sad, lonely hard days my body stayed the course. Its ability to endure and stay present allowed me to show up for sickness, death, break-ups, arguments, heartbreak and many messy and complicated situations.

On the days in between my body has always been there. Perhaps not always ready for the adventures planned by my mind, but willing to go along. Sometimes to struggle and sometimes to crush.

It has laid in the grass and soaked up the sun. It has floated in water under an endless sky, has skipped across meadows. My body knows love, kindness, friendship and trust. It knows intense passion and sweetest intimacy.

My body knows stress, trauma, violence and assault. It has physically recovered from every hurt life has dealt it. My body has healed even when I struggled to heal my emotions and mind.

My body has taken me up and down the aisles of supermarkets, across towns, through museums, has topped out rock climbs, it has chased children through parks, it has stood in kitchens cooking, walked dining rooms to serve. It has sat sill for endless hours while my fingers typed out the thoughts of my mind. It has taken me to the summits of mountains, its floated powder and carved groomers on my snowboard, has run across landscapes powered by my legs and has rolled many miles on my bike as I pushed on pedals. My body has stretched, twisted and turned itself on it’s head practicing yoga. It’s squatted, burpeed and slung iron. I’ve trained it and tested it time and time again.

I’ve worked my body and I've pushed my body; sometimes too hard. It has tweaked, snapped and broken. It has ached, it has been lacerated, It’s bones have been broken. It has endured chronic pain. It’s been burnt, cut, blistered, stitched, injected, operated on, pierced, implanted and is held together in places with plates and screws.

I’ve tanned it, tattooed it, painted it and regularly apply make-up to my skin. My hair has been cut, permed, colored and still it grows.

My skin has wrinkles, freckles and scars galore. I am soft where once I was hard and hard in places I was once soft.

I have been a willful and often times neglectful tenant of my body.

But this body, My Body. Is my amazing dynamic body and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

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