My Body

My body.
I have a body.
A very special, unique body.
Never before in human history has there been a body
like mine.
And there never will be
And yet…

I grew up in the hot humid South.
Tropical, debilitating summer heat.
When I was six, my sister laughed uproariously
at my tiny skinny feet
when I walked barefoot through the living room.
I never wore sandals
or went barefoot again.

When I was seven, a boy–I didn’t now him–laughed uproariously
at my skinny white legs
as I was climbing out of a car.
I never wore shorts again,
no matter how hot it got in the summer.

My body became the enemy. Even as I grew older.

I couldn’t bear to look at my face in the mirror
so I never wore makeup.
Averted my eyes whenever a reflection crept up on me
in a powder room, or a passing window.
Endured haircuts where the stylist forced me
to sit facing the massive mirror.
I closed my eyes, breathed deeply,
and hoped for the best, as far as haircuts.
Took one quick peek
when they were done hair-cutting, and
implored me to look at the mirror and
admire their work.
Then ran from the salon.

Shame, shame, shame for the shape of my breasts,
ever since they appeared.
So much shame…

Shame, shame, shame for the bat wings
that sprouted beneath my upper arms, too.
I never, ever wore sleeveless shirts, dresses,
or tank tops…not even in the stifling heat
when they would have been such relief.
My arms were too ugly.

Pining for winter months when I could hide
my body
beneath layers of clothing.

And then, something happened!

I moved to Arizona where there’s no humidity
but the heat will kill you
if you are not careful, not properly under-dressed.
Because everyone understands
it’s about survival here.


I bought shorts and saw my legs
for the first time in years.
I bought flip-flops and saw my feet
for the first time in years.
I bought tank tops and saw my upper arms,
milkwhite from being hidden for years.
And when I looked, really looked,
because my god, why not after all this time…
My legs, my feet, my arms…
they didn’t look so bad, in fact,
they looked fine.
Nothing to be ashamed of.

Each morning I dared the mirror
and contemplated my aging face
when applying sunscreen against the desert sun.
Inspected wrinkles,
dimples that had devolved into dents,
thinning eybrows.
Nothing to be ashamed of.

I bought new bras
for the first time in decades,
so ashamed of my breasts that
I failed to notice my bras were disintegrating.
I took a good look–I have breasts,
two of them.
They bring me pleasure.
They look just fine.
New bras–with underwires–purchased
with the help of a kindly saleswoman, who agreed
that my breasts looked just fine.
New bras, they fit and felt divine.

I have a body. It is 62 years old.
It is healthy and strong.
It works perfectly.
And it is beautiful.

I am beautiful. I always have been.
Took this long to undo beliefs
imposed by others
to know that I have a beautiful, perfect body.

My body.

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