Traipsing hands across skin, can you feel the story coming into your fingertips?
I am constantly amazed by the wisdom our bodies hold. The way they are like recording systems, a library of everything that has ever happened to us, in this life and beyond. As a triple earth sign, it is extremely important for me to feel grounded in my physical form. To feed it well and move it often. Today, I find great pleasure in holistic practices and self care, but it wasn't always like this. The journey into calling my body a home has been anything but easy.
The story that I was fed growing up told me outside appearances were the most important thing. My father had a history of dating models, loved fashion and was extremely neurotic about food. It's not that he didn't value intelligence or creativity, it just wasn't what I praised for. Getting an A wasn't that different from getting a C, but weight loss of any kind was major. I can still remember coming into our kitchen on a breezy spring morning. The New York winter had finally left us, making it the perfect opportunity to wear a t-shirt and low riding jeans.
"Wow, Kenna. I can see your hip bones. Good job!" my father told me as I reached for the juice.
This constant barrage of messaging, mixed with an already rocky brain chemistry, led me down a dark road. My body became a battleground. Me against myself, caught in a war of painful self loathing and self destruction. It took a long time and a lot of work to heal. In many ways, I am still healing. Still attempting to undo my upbringing and society's brainwashing. To cleanse the negative stories from my skin, once and for all.
As a result of having the most important man in my life place so much focus on my figure, I began attracting men who reminded me of him. Guys I was dating would say the most inappropriate and insensitive things to me. I often felt objectified and not good enough. At first, I was convinced that it really was because of my body's imperfections. But what I have come to see is that these men were simply mirroring the messages held in my skin. Lodged deeply into my cell memory.
These aren't their stories, but my own.
Over the past few months, I have been coming up against these beliefs in an intense way. While my actions towards my body are no longer harmful, my thoughts still are. The women I admire all feel at home in their forms. They exude confidence and magnetism, carrying their bodies with pride through this lifetime. Almost 30, I don't want to continue being a woman who goes to war with herself in dressing rooms. A woman who is afraid to be naked with a partner in rooms that are well lit. Who says no to beach invites and pool hangouts because I am ashamed. I know I'm not alone in this struggle. So how do we begin rewriting our stories?
Brain Rewire: We all know how powerful our thoughts are. Once I get started on a negative loop, my mind can spin out of control. Recently I have found myself saying bad things about my body, over and over again. It's painful and counterproductive, so I am determined to stop it. I have started to tell myself good things before going to sleep and upon waking up. The next step is use meditation and energy work. With the help of these tools, I can begin rewiring my brain, while reinforcing the new messages of self love.
Diversity: Recently I have begun following women on social media who reflect different types of body shapes. While I usually stray way from model accounts, I find women such as @AshleyGraham and @JadaSezer having a positive influence on me. @AlexElle, a DC based entrepreneur and artist, offers great messaging about body love and self acceptance. And lastly, I think @stylelikeu, an interview series created by a mother and daughter, is brilliant and inspiring.
Celebration: How can we find ways to celebrate ourselves, rather than putting ourselves down? I think we can start with gratitude for being alive. From there, we can look to our creative abilities, our generosity, humor and intelligence as things to feel good about. Expressing oneself through fashion can be a powerful tool in body celebration and storytelling. Finding clothes that flatter your body type and show your personality are great ways to honor the human form.
Role Models: Being around body positive women and feminist men has been crucial for me. The second I get into groups of people who focus too much on the superficial and exterior, I find myself slipping back into old ways of thinking. I love spending my time with artists, thinkers, activists and healers. But really, anyone who is compassionate, towards themselves and others, can serve as a portal into self love. Once you have this, it is so much easier to experience an authentic expression of who you are.
I would love to hear your body story. If you feel like sharing, message me on Instagram or reach out through the site. May we all find a loving story for our skin.
Photo: Lani Trock