As you may or may not have seen on the internet, I posed for the brilliant Tanja Tiziana for NOW Magazine’s 3rd annual Love Your Body Issue. This is the much anticipated January issue featuring ten Torontonians who bare all in front of the camera; each one with a beautiful story behind the love of their own bodies. I could tell you that it was easy. I could tell you that thanks to my innate confidence, I got buck and savoured every minute. But that would be a lie.
I admit I have a lot of internalized fat phobia thanks to loved ones patting my teenage belly and telling me to not let myself go; thanks to ex-partners slapping my wrist while reaching for a box of chocolates because they didn’t want a fat girlfriend; thanks to working on film sets and wardrobe folks telling me that I had to limit my visits to the craft services truck if I wanted to be as successful as my fellow cast members.
In all honesty, on the day of the photo shoot, this ex-anorexic did this instead:
I did all the mental gymnastics needed to not starve myself before seeing Tanja
I danced in front of a mirror naked and admired the chunk and the jiggle
I ate well, chewing each bite intentionally
Once Tanja began showing me the playback of the day’s shots, I breathed deeply and kept saying to myself “That’s right, Hernandez. That’s your body right there. And it is fine as fuck.”
In honour and celebration of this personal feat, I am giving to you all as a gift this list of things you can do instead of losing weight in the new year. Remember that 2016 was a shit storm of a year and unveiled the deepest depths of evil that lie within each and every one of us. 2017 is our chance to change the patterns that destroy us. It is our chance to rebuild our communities and our humanity. Let’s start with our own bodies. Let’s make our bodies the site of rebellion.
1. EAT WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT, WHATEVER MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD AND SATIETED.
Know that you are entitled to eat good food and drink clean water. All of this is a human right. I have to remind myself, most especially as a brown woman, that I am giving my body what it needs and wants. I deserve to replenish myself. I deserve to eat my celebration food, my waking up food, my PMS food, my mourning food. More importantly, I deserve to feed my body as I would a plant, lots of fluids to be strong and ready to fight the bullshit. In so many communities around the world, water is such a strong tool of genocide. Me drinking water – as is any kind of self care – is a radical act against a world that seeks to shut my body down.
2. LOVE YOUR BODY FOR WHAT IT IS AND NOT HOW IT PRODUCES
I can’t fucking stand it when people say shit like “You created a child. Be proud of those stretch marks.” Shut the hell up. That’s the same kind of bullshit around men saying things like “Rape culture is wrong because every woman is someone’s mother, someone’s daughter.” For reals, fuck off with that shit. While I am proud of the fact that I birthed my amazing daughter, my body is so much more than a baby machine, just like I am so much more than someone’s mother, someone’s daughter. Just sitting here on my ass writing this article, I am gold at the end of the goddamn rainbow. I don’t need to do anything, I don’t need to produce anything to be worthy of love. I am a motherfucking miracle.
3. WRITE LOVE LETTTERS TO YOUR BODY
During my most acute stage of withdrawal from Topical Steroids and Adrenal Fatigue, I wrote love letters to my body. I took this seriously as I knew it was all I could do to keep myself from hating the body I thought had betrayed me with chronic illness. I chose actual coloured letterhead. I wrote each one like a ritual using a marker. I told my body I was sorry for pushing it so hard. I told my body how thankful I was for running from rape, from walking away from abuse. I told my body I was going to love it unconditionally no matter how many times the chronic illness would return.
4. DATE YOUR BODY
Imagine you’re in this dead end relationship. You move through life just living with and looking at this other person. You’ve forgotten the magic. You’ve forgotten to date each other. Same goes with your own body. I often think of my body as someone who has let me down, has disappointed me. In the last while, though, I have taken the time to woo my body back to me, so that we are in partnership again, realising all the dreams we want to come true. What actions would you take to woo your body back? Take them out to a nice dinner? Give them a massage? Respect their boundaries of what it can or cannot do? Make sweet love to it (yes, I mean masturbation)? Give your body the romance it deserves.
5. DO WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT, WHATEVER MAKES YOUR BODY FEEL GOOD AND SATISFIED
Want to join a boxing class to learn to kick ass? Do it.
Want to have lots of consensual sex with wonderful people? Do it.
Want to learn a new language? Do it.
Want to commit to a yoga practice that also honours fat and racialized bodies? Do it.
Or do nothing. Even reading this article, you are gold at the end of the goddamn rainbow. You are a motherfucking miracle.