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Allowed to Enjoy Your Body

Have you ever thought that you weren’t supposed to enjoy your body unless it was absolutely perfect and beautiful? Or that if you did enjoy it in a non-perfect state, then something was wrong with you, and you should be ashamed of feeling that way?

I started thinking about this recently after seeing a query from Help A Reporter Out. The query asked to talk to people whose body image has improved as a result of having a massage or other body work done. It got me thinking about how, during all my years of being overweight, I would have never even considered a professional massage. The idea of baring my body to a stranger was part of it, but I also felt like my body didn’t deserve it. Why reward it for being so big and hideous?

Nor did my body image improve after losing weight, since at that point I still had stretch marks and loose skin (and still do). But somewhere along the way I decided to be brave and have a massage anyway.

My first visit, I very self-consciously told my masseuse about my weight loss and cosmetic surgery to remove excess skin on my arms. Otherwise, I had visions of her folding back the blanket and recoiling in horror. She, on the other hand, seemed surprised that I felt the need to tell her but thanked me.

Then, when she started the massage, it was my turn to be surprised. I hadn’t really known what to expect, but I think I had it in my head that she would be efficient and professional, but nothing more. Instead, I felt her touch me – me! my body! – with tenderness and care, as if it were, in fact, something precious and sacred, to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Even now, years later, this concept occasionally remains novel and surprising to me, but it’s one I’m slowly beginning to accept and treat as the norm. Is my body perfect? No, but then, whose is? That doesn’t mean I should treat it badly, and it’s no reason not to find ways to appreciate all that’s good about it, and even take pleasure in it.

So here’s to massages, hot baths, fuzzy sweaters, long hugs, foot soaks, and whatever else might help us remember how worthy our bodies are, and truly enjoy them.

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