Today I woke up early.
I sleep naked and the morning light in my room is some kinda heaven. I was walking around making the bed before getting dressed and caught sight of myself in the mirror and, for once, was filled with a rush of kindness.
Not critique of the belly that stretched to birth two babies or the breasts that we’re not perky and lifted even when I was young and firm everywhere else. It wasn’t the kind of hard-earned self-love that had to be worked for and deserves to be celebrated, not even a ‘damn girl, you’re FINE for 44″ moment.
It was simply that, for some reason, this morning I felt soft and beautiful, just for those moments in the morning light. I felt kind, like I belonged all the way inside my own skin. I turned and shifted, not admiring or tearing down, just receiving the gift of my own gaze. And then I took some photos. Sitting on the bed, no attempt to hide the soft roundness of my belly, or the natural lines of my breasts. I stood and turned, stretching on my tiptoes to capture the reflection of my ass.
I didn’t edit or filter or perfect. Didn’t take multiple shots attempting to get it right. I just snapped and then I sent them to two of my very best friends in this whole world. The two whose words and images and voices and love have been my constant companions these past two months. I shared those two naked and vulnerable shots with them — but they didn’t feel vulnerable, nor need validation. They just felt true. Real. Soft. Whole.
And I know that just as I had received myself, they would receive me. ⠀
My dear friend Morgan responded,
“Seeing you gives me a glimpse of what it must be like to be a lover seeing the beloved’s naked body because I just love you so much I could cry. And we think we’re so flawed. We are so silly. We are beautiful.”⠀
My heart filled, it is always an exquisite gift to be so wholly seen, especially by one who knows your heart so deeply.
“You’re gonna make me cry” I said.
“That’s what love is supposed to do.” she replied, “Make us weep with belonging.”
Years ago, I was a part of a Facebook group with 22 other women. For the first time in my life, I was given a glimpse behind the veil. I got to see these women and their lives in a way we rarely open to the world. It changed my everything.
And then one day we started sharing nudes.
The women in this group — they ranged in size and shape and form — as women always do.
Tiny and petite to deliciously voluptuous.
Boyish and angular to endless curves.
Tall and short and everything in between.
And do you know what?
Not once did I spend a second critiquing. I didn’t think, “my god, she would be more beautiful if only she…(gained weight, lost weight, lifted her boobs, tucked her tummy, worked out more, cut her hair)”.
I just thought, “What a god damn miracle this human is. How glorious. How brave. How fucking brilliant and beautiful”.
I was in awe, struck dumb speechless, every single time.
I’d spent a lifetime hiding my body. I wasn’t even fully naked when I gave birth.
After this, I was never the same again.
Your body? Glorious as fuck.
Your ass? Yeah, it’s fire.
That good, good body of yours? It deserves to be celebrated, lauded, to have a fucking party thrown in its honor every damn day of your life.
Your body is soft and strong and it has done so much to get you here.
Your body is wise and holds infinities.
Your body is (as John Mayer suggested) in fact, a mother-fucking wonderland.
My god, you are beautiful.
It can be easy to forget just how beautiful.
But as my dear friend Morgan Wade reminded me yesterday, when we love someone, we look on their body as the holy grail of all good things.
When we love someone, we see their body as a miracle of hills and valleys and soft and hard, lines, and curves of wonder.
Think back to the last time you looked at the body of a lover that you were head over heels undone for.
A friend who is nestled as close as another human can be to the center of your being.
Remember the awe? Remember the tremor? Remember the grace?
It can be hard to love ourselves like that.
Some days, near impossible.
This is why we have to seek and find the ones who can see us.
The ones who love us full force, no holding back.
The ones who gaze at us with eyes of love and gratitude and wonder.
The ones who can undo all the damage done with their tenderness and their love and the gifts of a gaze bent on truly seeing and honoring what is.
And no, that doesn’t have to be a lover.
In fact, I’d suggest that even if you DO have a lover, you should open yourself to being seen that way by others.
By the friends who know you without pretense. Who see and hold and honor the ugly and messy of you along with your beauty.
By strangers in safe spaces who get just how unprecedented you are.
Humans (near or far or in the next room or across cyberspace never to meet in person) who, upon opening a text or DM or a page with your gloriously naked form would never leave you on read.
Who won’t give a quick emoji reaction and move on with their day.
You need the people (friends or lovers or strangers even) who will pause and take a deep breath and let the honor of the gift of your form stop them in their tracks.
Who will stop what they are doing to write back right away and to say that not only is your ass fire, but that the all of you is holy.
That you are divine.
Worthy of Shakespearean sonnets and epic 80’s love ballads and the walls of any museum.
Humans who will tell you that the soft overhang of your belly is a prayer.
That the angles of your hips are art.
That the fall of your hair across your breasts is worthy of a national holiday.
(In fact, if you are sending nudes to anyone who is NOT doing all of that and more, I’d highly suggest asking yourself if they are making themselves worthy of the honor, because love — your body is a rare gift, and should always be treated as such).
It took other brave women to teach me that my body was worthy of being seen.
It took other brave women to bring me out of hiding and into a place where I was willing to ditch the religious shame and the patriarchal bullshit and the messages from a culture that always told me I was too much something and not enough something else.
It took worshipping the unhidden forms of other women with my eyes and skin and mouth for me to learn to worship my own.
And your body, my dear, is worthy of worship.
Every single moment of every single day of your life.
If you don’t have someone to tell you so, come to me.
I will remind you again and again and over and over again.
Your body, love, is glorious.