Life with a body

It’s only in the last year or so that I started questioning what my body is for. It’s taken me until now to realise that I was unconsciously holding a belief that the important things revolve being either use or ornament. I’ve spent my life to date treating my body as something that exists to please or appease other people, not as something that is mine.

There’s a lot of pressure on women to focus on looking the part. We’ve been taught that thin matters – not fit, not healthy, certainly not muscular because muscles are all too often deemed ugly on women. We should paint our faces, blocking our pores, we should wear shoes we can barely walk in that will ultimately deform our feet, we should alter ourselves with surgery, botox, pull out most of our hair and so on. None of this is about being well, feeling good or being happy, it’s about being held up to impossible and unnatural standards.

My body is here to serve – and that’s an idea that I’ve had to wrestle with considerably. Notions of wife and mother cast us as giving to the point of self sacrifice. Too many workplaces would use our bodies to the point of sickness and exhaustion. We’re poisoning ourselves with car fumes.

I can’t speak to the male experience, or any non-binary experiences. While I don’t emotionally identify with being female, I’ve realised that expectations around what happens with my apparently-female body have had a huge impact on me.

What if the point of a body isn’t to look good for other people? What if the point is to live, feel, do…? What if the person who should most benefit from my body is in fact me? What if I’m not here to be used, not obliged to give whenever asked? It opens up worlds of possibilities.

I spent a lot of years trying, and failing to be thin. I’ve always been odd looking, smearing makeup on this face doesn’t change me into something conventional. I’ve been used, and been complicit in being used because I never thought there was more than that. Years of living in a space where it’s not about use and ornament and I get to be a person, has really opened things up for me. I start to ask what this body needs, what would feel good, what I would enjoy… these are the keys to an as yet undiscovered country.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Life with a body

  • Rex

    I sold women’s shoes, and the first time I fit a middle aged woman, I was so taken aback by how twisted and gnarled her feet appeared. But then, I saw another, and another, and another. I’d sold men’s shoes and never seen anything like that. You speak of make up blocking pores, but also much of the conventionally sold products, like lipstick, contain lead. Dementia much? Congrats on freeing yourself for yourself. You own it, you get to decide. All the rules and expectations are just blather and smoke.

    • Nimue Brown

      thank you for sharing this insight – I was lucky in that my grandmother’s trashed feet persuaded me to take better care of mine, but too many girls have no idea what price they will pay for squeezing their soft bones into pointy shoes.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    In my case, my body is thin, not the least muscular and not the least bit athletic. I went into the US Marines at 6foot 3.5 inches tall and 140 pounds in weight. I rarely took my shirt off, could not imagine every being nude in front of anyone and being comfortable. I did come out at 170 pounds which was a bit more comfortable.

    Being gay back then was very isolating. I did not know where other gays were, and had mixed feelings about sex, so I was late in starting to explore my sexuality. However that was the pointy that I began to under stand that to some folks did not see me as I saw me,that I was considered sexy.

    After that period, I became comfortable with my body. I walked a lot , being poor, and thought nothing about it, ten, fifteen, and twenty mile were easy..
    In my thirties I was doing geode mining, mostly shoveling and wheel barrow work, dumping tailings and lifting buckets of fifty to sixty pounds of rock. Never became muscular, but still had enough energy at the end of the day to walk a few miles just to burn off excess energy.

    Late forties, and then the health problems, and bit by bit I lost some of my abilities. Now I use a walker, and have the usual troubles of an old man. But my body still provide me with my way to take part in life. I have always lived more in my head, and do so even more now. My body is my home while I live, to allow me to explore life. I have no complaints now about my body.

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