AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BODY THAT GOT ME HERE
Words By Dani James
I GUESS THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO APPROACH YOU, WE HAVEN’T ALWAYS AGREED AND AT TIMES I HAVE FELT SO DISSOCIATED FROM YOU, THAT YOU HAVE BECOME UNRECOGNISABLE TO ME. FOR NEARLY THIRTY YEARS NOW, I HAVE POKED AT YOU, BELITTLED YOU AND TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR, SO I’M COMING TO YOU NOW IN THE HOPES OF RECONCILIATION.
I remember very clearly the age that I was the first time that I looked at you in the mirror and questioned if you were the right body for me, I was eight years old, I pinched your tummy hard and imagined ways that I could just chop that bit off, I asked my Mum “do you think that I’m fat?”, which I’m sure is not what most mothers expect to hear from a child of that age. The image of holding that little bit of wobbly tum is ingrained in my mind and has become an act that I have done almost daily in the 20+ years that have passed since. I think that to anyone reading this, it may seem odd that my initial struggles with you were because you were not thin enough, but they were, my journey of disdain with you started with the numbers that you inflicted on the scales. That conflict lead me in my teen years to put you through all sorts of hell, you needed more to run efficiently than I chose to provide you with, I starved you down to become as small as you could go, I told you that you were disgusting and I pushed you to your limits, for that I am truly sorry.
I was mistaken for being a boy for the first half of my life because of your characteristics and I have resented you for that physical betrayal for as long as I can remember. Your physicalities have defined the path that my life has taken, you have prevented people from truly seeing me,
you were the barrier between me and the life that I believed that I was entitled to. It is only now that I am making so many amends within my life that I can be thankful to you and see how truly lucky I am to have had you all along. You have had no illnesses, you are fit enough that you were able to run a marathon, you have come with me all over the world and you have never failed. I have spent so many years indignant at you for not aligning with the vision of the woman that I thought I should have been and am only beginning to see now that you have always been the woman that I truly am. When I made the decision to embark on my medical journey 11 years ago, you changed, you adapted and you grew, in some places more than others. You went from chrysalis to butterfly and you made it seem effortless, that was remarkable really. In my pursuit to align you with my vision, I have medicated you, waxed you, zapped you with lasers, flown you to foreign countries and had you operated on, plucked you, synched you and forced you, you adapted to the changes as if it were your natural path and for that, I am eternally grateful.
There are so many things that I have put you through over the last decade, the nights that became days, sometimes multiple days, fuelled by whatever was dropped off following a shady interaction with men who’s phone numbers I acquired second hand. How did you keep going after all of that? I have seen far too many friends body’s give up and wither, yet you held out hope. When I made the decision to be kinder to you 18 months ago, I could feel you absorbing the new nourishment of life, enriched by sleep and hydration and inner peace.
You are worth the meetings I attend, you are worth the early nights and the effort that has gone into forging new friendships with people that understand.
I am under no false pretenses that in writing to you today, that the critiques of you will stop. I will always wish that you were a few inches narrower. I will always wish that it didn’t cost me so much time and money to get you to a point that I recognise you. I will always wonder what life would have been like if you could have just done all of this from the beginning. None of this will ever happen and so I am making a promise now to try to be kinder to you, to be forever grateful that you are able and healthy and strong.