my heart looks like your heart

my heart looks like your heart

Saturday, October 20, 2012

i am not my body: i am me

it's always interesting to me, to experience the many different ways that others experience me.

does that make sense?

the way people respond to others is always very telling.  it tells so much about the person doing the responding, and i am fascinated by this from a sociological perspective.

this week i have had the privilege of learning a lot about this exact thing.

by last night i felt very much like i had been beaten down.  partly by people i know, and partly by people i didn't even know existed in this world.  judgment is a very interesting thing.

and you know what?  i felt this even though i stand by the following idea:

i am not my body.  i believe the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:  "we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

anyone who knows me knows that i believe this to the fullest; and that i am often heard saying the words:  "i am not my outsides."

so this week a picture of me, in all my natural born nakedness, was posted on Facebook.  it was certainly not a sexual or pornographic photograph in any way.  it was just a straight forward body shot ... i am proud of it, and saddened by the truth of how some people responded to it.  not saddened for myself, but saddened for what it says about human nature and instinctive response.

here is how some of the thread went:

one comment: omg there is a picture of you naked on fb. thought i should tell you so you can delete it before anyone sees it!
me: why would i want to do that?

another comment: oh no. you must be so embarrassed.
me: why would i be embarrassed? embarrassed of what?

here are my thoughts:
1) i am not my body. i am my insides, i am not my outsides.
2) having said that, i am proud of my body. it has been pregnant multiple times, survived multiple miscarriages, and produced 2 healthy human beings. it kept those 2 human beings alive solely on the milk it created. it has scars, stretch marks, and the effects of aging. and i am proud to have it. it is not perfect and i don't care. i am grateful that in my 40s anyone at all wants to take a picture of it. 
3) nudity does not equal sex. if you think it does, that says a lot about you, not me. in fact, sex does not even require nudity (gasp!) i have seen profile pictures of women and girls who are not old enough to vote, that are more provocative and suggestive than this. my parents and my children were present at this shoot and my dad took pictures of me as well. in all of the modeling i have done i have never shot anything sexual in nature. any photographer i have worked with can attest to that and the fact that i work with integrity and respect.
4) if you are judging me, i am glad this is a picture of my outsides and not your insides.

i haven't always loved my body; i was teased when i was younger, and i have been on the receiving end of many insults regardless of my age, about being too thin, not having meat on my bones, assumptions that i never eat, or whatever anyone thinks is okay to say.  i was told once that nursing was ruining my body.  i have had times, as everyone has, of wishing my body were different.  it has taken me a long time to finally feel good about it and embrace it and be nothing but thankful for the miraculous healthy machine that it is.  whatever it looks like.  it is the only body i have to carry me around in this place, and i am not embarrassed of it.  i am grateful for it and respectful of it.

i was also told this week by more than one person that i should be ashamed.  that i should consider how my children will be affected by such a thing.  that i am inappropriate.  odd.  gross.     (gross? really?  don't we all have bodies?  human bodies?  made basically the same?)  again ... some of these were people i know and some were not; they were merely judging me and stating their opinion.  i know that this says everything about them, and not a thing about me.  if someone says i am inappropriate, that can be what they think, but that doesn't make it true any more than if they said i am a penguin.  their perspective is true for them.  not for me.  i know that the way we see things is according to the way we think and the things we believe and the experiences we have had.  and i also know that just because we think something, that doesn't make it true.  our opinions and beliefs are not necessarily "right" for everyone else.  we are no better for believing what we believe, and no one else is better than we are, for believing what they believe.  it is not our place to insist our beliefs on others, nor is it their place to push theirs on us.

"it's one thing to feel you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path." -Paulo Coelho

just because i am not embarrassed or modest about my outsides, i am not conservative nor shy, that doesn't have to translate into me being ugly on the inside or any of the other things that people threw at me this week.  i know this because i know who i am.  and i know that people will see what they choose to see.

the facebook thread continued and i responded:

i believe there is something for me to learn from every person, even when they are in disagreement with me or judgmental. i respect their right to their own opinion and i am grateful that they feel they can express it to me. but even though i am a peacekeeper, i have learned that i do not need to withhold my own thoughts in order to keep peace. i know that when others have opinions that they believe are "right" ... that doesn't mean i am wrong if i think differently. and likewise, they are not "wrong" if they don't believe as i do. i have learned to live with the judgments of others for whatever it is that they believe. i choose to stand as me, be the soul of where i stand, and believe in myself, you, others, love, and peace. i don't judge those who judge me. i go to sleep at night knowing who i am.

so to anyone judging me in those ways, i only say i am sorry that you struggle with that which is different than yourself.  a lack of openness towards the differences in all of us only leads to a lack of growth and a smaller experience of this wonderful life.  you can wish that i were different ... because perhaps that would make you more comfortable in your own skin, but i am not going to change who i am due to your issues or your particular sensitivities.  i am not going to become what you want me to become.  it is not my responsibility to mold myself into what makes you feel good.  i am not here to satisfy you.  you do not have to like me or like to look at me, but you have every right to your opinion and every right to look or go the other way and get back to your own life.

if you are offended by my body, that's okay with me. you don't have to look at it. isn't that awesome??


  1. I cannot believe that people would say that you were gross, or that you should be ashamed, and especially find it ridiculous that someone would tell you that nursing your children has ruined your body!!! What total asinine nonsense!!! I am still nursing at 11+ months. I am the ONLY one of my friends who had a baby around the same time as me still nursing, and I have been lucky to not receive any judgement from them on it, nor have I judged them on not nursing. I've really been lucky to not have anyone come out to me and say anything about my nursing in public, to which I am grateful, because while I've been ready to defend my stance on being allowed to BF if given the choice I would rather not have to deal with confrontations! To me, I am doing what I need to do, I am doing what my daughter needs me to do, and if it means that I end up with saggy boobies, so be it. I came into the world one way, I'm going to leave it another and as you said, I am not my body, there are certainly times I wish I had a different body, especially lately with the pains that 2 car accidents have left me in, but dammit it's my body, MINE, and if I chose to use mine to feed my child, to give her nourishment that will sustain her, then so be it. So you did what you needed to do for your sons, you did it as a mother was intended to do for her babies, good for you! Stand tall and proud!!! And be blessed that you have a beauty that shows through your skin from your soul, and sometimes people are frightened by that and they lash out at what they fear. I am sure your boys are proud of you, and aware of what you do.

    1. bethanee, i agree with all of this. i do think that people lash out in fear, and i understand that. human behavior is very fascinating to me, and i do believe that different religions and cultures, etc., carry or impose different fears and issues. it is all very interesting. and yes, unfortunately i was in fact told that nursing was ruining my body and actually also that maybe i would want to consider plastic surgery afterwards to get my body back to "normal." i nursed my first child until he was around 13 months old, and my second until he was 16 months old or so. i was proud of it and so grateful to be able to do it. i nursed in public anytime and anywhere. i was not ashamed to meet someone and shake their hand while my other hand held a baby to my breast. i consider it a gift and an honor, and i applaud you 100%. thank you for reading :) and for taking the time to share your thoughts. xoxo from my heart to your heart! <3