Having spent the first half of my life trying to lose weight, I decided some time ago that I refuse to spend the second half of my life trying to lose wrinkles. All day long, our bodies work diligently for us, yet most people walk around lost in thought, ignoring, criticizing and often times even despising their bodies.
I used to be an extreme body hater. After decades of working on cultivating self-kindness and self-care, I am now extremely devoted to loving and appreciating the body I live in. I also have the good fortune of being able to teach others how to do the same.
It occurred to me recently that while my body must be infinitely more content with the treatment it receives from me now (both externally and internally), I felt like I owed it an apology. After all, if I had abused someone else for decades and decided to make peace, I would surely extend my sincerest apologies to them. So, I thought I would post my letter here in the hopes that some of you will join me in a Body Apology of your own.
-- I am sorry for ignoring your hunger signals for so many years.
-- I am sorry for making you drink disgusting diet shakes and eat tasteless diet foods.
-- I am sorry for stuffing you with excess food and then shaming you when you were only responding to the starvation and self-hate that I was inflicting on you.
-- I am sorry for comparing you to other women I knew nothing about and thinking you were supposed to look like them.
-- I am sorry I thought of you as an object to gain approval and attention, rather than the amazing miracle that you are.
-- I am sorry for hating every freckle, lump and bump on your skin.
-- I am sorry for stuffing you into clothes that felt too tight and hating you when things no longer fit.
-- I am sorry for making you wear high-heeled shoes that felt way too cramped and uncomfortable.
-- I am sorry for criticizing you every time I saw your reflection in a mirror or a window.
-- I am sorry for thinking you could not leave the house without wearing make-up.
-- I am sorry for depriving you of rest when you were tired.
-- I am sorry for pumping you with caffeine instead of listening to your natural rhythms.
-- I am sorry you had to ingest dangerous substances because I wanted to fit in and look cool.
-- I am sorry I made you exercise in ways you didn't even like.
-- I am sorry I put you in situations you did not really want to be in.
-- I am sorry I ignored your wise intuition and said "yes" when you clearly felt "no."
-- I am sorry I stayed silent when you nudged me to speak up, because I feared the disapproval and rejection of others.
-- I am sorry I put countless cigarettes into your lungs because I didn't yet know how to handle stress or pauses in the day.
-- I am sorry I spent so much time criticizing you that I forgot to say thank you and acknowledge your amazing senses, systems, limbs and organs.
-- I am sorry I thought my value as a human being was entirely dependent on you.
-- Oh, and I am sorry about those leg warmers and shoulder pads in the '80s!
Andrea Wachter is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience working with children, teens, adults, families and groups. Andrea is passionate about helping people who are struggling with eating disorders, body image, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, grief and relationships. Andrea is an inspirational counselor, author and speaker who uses professional expertise, humor and personal recovery to help others. For more information on her book or other services, please visit: www.andreawachter.com