acceptance, body, body image

Body Image: Magnificence not Manipulation

2019jan8mochalularosesmall
Lily Chang © 2018

Early this week, I made a batch of New England Clam Chowder that was the best. Exquisite. Every bite melted in my mouth and left a delicious aftertaste. I wasn’t going to let dietary restrictions — no gluten and no cow dairy — stop me from making it absolutely extraordinary.

I was determined to make one of my favorite soups at least as good, if not better, than any I had ever tasted. And I did it!

2019jan22clamchowdersmall
Lily Chang © 2018

I used just the right combination and amount of the following ingredients:

  • raw chopped sea clams
  • clam juice
  • russet potatoes
  • celery
  • frozen organic corn
  • sweet onion
  • goat milk butter
  • lactose-free milk
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black Malabar peppercorn
  • parsley
  • gluten-free bread mix

Getting the soup just right involved changing around the quantity or amount of stuff I put in it, by adding more of this ingredient or less of that. The dairy needed to be fresh. And, this time around, I used a bit more goat milk butter than before. Closer to a cup.

***

I’d like to change things up for a moment and talk about body image.

I’ve been watching this old show on abc.com, called “Red Band Society” that aired in 2014. One of the main characters has anorexia. I’ve known a number of people who have struggled with eating orders or unhealthy body imaging. I’m definitely no exception. At least on having an unhealthy body image.

I’ve struggled with accepting my body as it is.

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Lily Chang © 2018

Yesterday, I had an epiphany.

Why in the world would I think I could just manipulate my body the way I would do with ingredients in a recipe? It sounds kind of absurd when I utter the words out loud, “I want to take a bit off here and here and maybe add some there.” I often catch myself thinking, “If only I had less fat or rolls in my midsection, I’d be more exquisite, beautiful, or acceptable.”

People, including celebrities, try to do get rid of parts of their bodies they don’t like all the time. There’s liposuction, extra targeted exercise, various diets, all kinds of things we do to our bodies to try and get what we want.

But, is that what we should be doing?

I’m beginning to think we have our focus all wrong.

Even those who get somewhat close to achieving targeted manipulations get Photo Shopped or still don’t feel joyful or that they’ve done enough.

I’ve decided, I’m going to try and focus on what my body’s supposed to do and what it has done.

My body will never, ever qualify for a Paris runway.

But, it has achieved plenty of other noteworthy accomplishments:

  • At one point, it was able to dead-lift 220 pounds.
  • It has grown, developed, and delivered four children into the world.
  • In one of those pregnancies, my body grew two babies and delivered full-term, singleton-weight babies — 7 pounds, 9.1 ounces and 6 pounds, 14.1 ounces — into the world without complication.
  • It nursed all the babies for a decent period of time: 18 months, 3.5 years, and 6+ years. And, in the first two cases, I stopped only because I was pregnant and was strongly advised to stop.
  • It survived a 15-17 pound drop in weight in a 2-3 year period, when my life was super stressful, and I didn’t have the presence of mind to eat well or to take care of my body.
  • Once I reached a better place, my breasts not only recuperated from the pregnancies, nursing babies, and getting older, but they grew! I had problems accepting that at first. I’ve never understood women who purposely augment them quite a bit by getting breast implants. Anyway, I’m learning to be okay with them.
  • My body keeps up with four busy children, work, and other responsibilities every single day.

I think that’s pretty good.

***

I have stretch marks and extra skin and fat from making babies and carrying them full-term. So what? They’re like badges of honor and battle scars, that show what my body has accomplished and done.

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Lily Chang © 2018

I’m thinking, if anyone disapproves of me or my body, their company isn’t worth keeping.

That isn’t to say I don’t dress as my artist or writer self. I love colors, patterns, skirts, scarves, necklaces, and other accessories. Adding those make dressing fun and exciting.

At the end of the day, I’m proud of what my body has done for me, in all its glory and magnificence.

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