[Guest Post by Chine Mbubaegbu] – I love my body. This is something I couldn’t have written this a few years ago.
Because loving my body certainly has not come easily to me. You could say our love affair has been a tumultuous one.
Sure, we’ve had some fleeting dalliances–the odd glance in the mirror where I’ve caught sight of it and approved.
But on the whole, arriving at a place where I can say that I truly love my body has been a journey I’ve been traveling on most of my life.
When you start writing about beauty and body image, as I have done, and you start telling others to look at the inside and stop obsessing with the mirror, eventually there will come a time when you’re forced to look at your own reflection, and honestly love what you see staring back at you.
The time is now for me and my body.
But let’s get one thing clear: I can’t do that fake flaunt-it-style sassy, body-confidence.
The kind that struts its stuff for the outside world, but hides those feelings of shame, guilt and inadequacy that are the reality for so many women when it comes to their relationships with their bodies.
My body and I don’t do public displays of affection for other people’s benefit. Ours is growing into a secure, steadfast kind of love.
Because when I say ‘I love my body’, I have to mean it.
When I say ‘I love my body’, that love has to come from a place of authenticity, of deep understanding, of respect and acceptance.
It’s a forever love, not a flirty crush.
When it comes to my relationship with my body, you could say that I have been that abusive partner that nobody would want to be in a relationship with.
I have put it down. I’ve beaten it up, trapped it, constrained it, hidden it. I’ve compared it to other ‘better’ bodies. I have hated it.
I’ve ignored its appeals for affirmation.
Do you love me?
Yes, once you’ve lost another 10 pounds.
Do you love me?
Yes, as long as you’re at the gym three times a week.
Do you love me?
You know I do, but just as long as you’re dressed up in your most flattering clothes.
With each answer, I have denied my body the love and affirmation that it needs, and the praise that it deserves.
But right now, I’m standing at the altar, vowing to love my body, my constant friend and faithful partner. In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in joy as well as in sorrow. Forsaking all other body shapes, I promise to love my body unconditionally – through the weight gain and the weight loss, through the good hair days and the hat days, the wrinkles and the laughter lines.
I promise to cherish and protect my body.
And I promise to love it. Not in a shout-it-from-the-rooftops kind of way. Not in a Tom-Cruise-jumping-up-and-down-on-Oprah’s-sofa way.
But I will love it all the same. Quietly, confidently, deeply, fully.
Because this body is a gift from God.
It is an outworking of His creativity and His beauty; it is a reflection of His image. This body–my body–is fearfully and wonderfully made. And He has called it ‘good’.
I love my body.
Chine Mbubaegbu is editor at the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, including idea magazine and threads UK. She is also a freelance writer and journalist and is currently working on her first book Am I Beautiful? which will be published in 2013.