Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life Story: The Early History of My Body II



Yesterday was interesting for a lot of us, I think.

I heard from more people yesterday than I have in quite sometime. We're not mad at our mothers or our grandmothers or our great grandmothers for perpetuating lies about our bodies. These lies started long before them, and it's easy to believe they didn't know better. They didn't know what we know, hurtful, terrible things that we will never tell our daughters. And someday, our daughters just might say the same about us.

Here's some thoughts on what I will tell my daughters, what I will shout from the rooftops, what I will whisper in their ears:


Your body houses a spirit.


The spirit changes constantly with intelligence and progression.


Your body will change with your spirit, constantly.


On days where you will feel heavy, emotionally, so will your body.


On days where you feel energetic, emotionally, so will your body.


Your body will change like the earth changes, and if you are quiet you will feel the earth's changes in your own body. And like the earth, your body is cyclic. This system of cycles is very important for your body and spirit, it will pull out dark, deep-seated emotions that might hurt you --even if you're not conscious of them-- and flush them out, literally out of your body and out of your mind. 

This cycle that will occur in your body is Grace.


Allow yourself to be cyclic. And feel cyclic.


You will be tempted to coerce your body into staying the same. You might hear about unhealthy perimeters to keep your body within; numbers and measurements. You might feel a need to restore your body to a certain age where you think your body belongs--even though you would never will your spirit backwards to that same place. You will hear lies that unless your body stays the same you are not good enough.


These are the worst lies ever told since the beginning of time. The worst lies always involve a woman's body. They always involve a woman's body and her inabilities. And these lies, they've hurt a lot of people. You don't have to believe them. In fact, you can believe more than the sum of all these lies.

Your body is not about what you have too much of. Your body is not about what you wish you had more of. Your body isn't even about an appearance, it's more intelligent than that. It's about truth; the physical manifestation of what you know inside. 

It's not about what days you will take it to the gym. It's not about what you foods you will refuse it. It's not about how you can pluck it, paint it, or shape it with plastic. It's about how you feel about its worth--and your spirit's worth--and those sentiments will be your guide on how you treat it. 


Your body has been changing since the day you were born, let it continue to change. Let it fatten, let it thin, let it bloom, let it blossom, let it shrink, let it wrinkle, let it die.


And celebrate it all.  

This is where I will start when I teach my daughters, because these are the things I wish I would've heard, or what my mother had heard, or her mother as well. I will tell my son too, and charge him with a responsibility to never believe the lies he will be told about a woman's body.


Yesterday was especially interesting for me. A new girl was born into our family. As I looked at her over, her celestial state of newly-birthed, her body wiggling and stretching in my arms, I wondered what truths she will uncover beneath the lies we tell, the truths we cannot discover fast enough, the truths I cannot wait to hear.


80 comments:

Rachey said...

This spoke to my soul! Thank you Cjane!

Nora said...

Hooray! How beautifully put. Thank you. And, congratulations. Sending you lots of love.

Brian and Kayla said...

Very nicely said.

Catherine Dabels said...

Your new niece will always be a reminder of how miraculous our bodies are and what they are capable of.

Congratulations on her arrival and also on spreading a truth that has always existed but has been drowned out by the lies that the world yells in our ears.

Nicole said...

I have to let you know...I check to see if you've posted yet many many times each day - that is how captivated I am by you and your writing. The post today was beautiful. It spoke to my heart - I'm pretty sure I am going to print and refer to it every time I feel like I (and my body)am not good enough. I will read it and know that I need to search the scriptures and strengthen my spirit. In Sunday school week before last we were talking about fast and testimony meeting and how each time someone shares their testimony there is someone in the crowd who NEEDED to hear what they have to say...I needed this, I thank you Courtney. Thank you for always being honest, regardless of what judgement may come.

dani said...

I'm on my journey to understand my body-spirit relationship and I learned so much from this. Thank you!

Alida B. said...

I'm not sure if I'm the only one but in the last 2 weeks (since the St. Patty's day post) none of your blog updates have been appearing in my reader. I thought you quit blogging or something!

The LDSMommy said...

I need to not only teach my daughters these things, I need to teach myself these things. Thank you.

As is. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amelia said...

Thank you. This was beautiful

Lisa B. said...

Bless you, dear C.Jane.

Vesuvius At Home said...

Your pen is on fire! I needed this. Thank you.

Ann Marie said...

This needs to be posted in a women's magazine!

Good stuff today!

Mix :D said...

CJane,
you're simply THE BEST! Don u know that? Do u realize how AWESOME u r?

Thank u Thank u!!!! U just gave words to all my feelings... U r just de most spectacular soul I've ever met (even it's wasn't quite a real meeting) ...

Again thank u for being u and most important, for sharing all ur thoughts with us...
Today is my birthday, and reading today's post was one hell of a gift! THANKS!

lots and lots of kisses!!!!
Mix

Tami said...

You can tell your daughters these things all you want, but unless you keep them locked up, and sheltered, if they are big boned, and busty like my teenagers are, they will go through HELL at school with people making fun of them for their weight. There is such a double standard too. My husband was the one who grew up and was "chunky" during high school. He was a football player, and it was perfectly acceptable for him to be larger than others, glorified even. Now I have three daughters, one in junior high, and two in high school who are dealing with people calling them fat or making fun of them for eating on a daily basis (many girls don't eat lunch at all--it's considered "gross" to eat). People have told my daughter, "no wonder you're fat", when she chooses to eat pizza, or a cookie for lunch, even when they are eating the same lunch she is. They ask her, "don't you excercise?" I have had them come home on several occasions in tears because of things people have said to them at school. The thing is, I have had people say those same things to me, in regards to my children! Why don't I make them excercise? Why don't I feed them healthy food? When I explain to them that they do excercise, and we do eat healthy food--they just have a different body type than I do--they roll their eyes like I am lying! People who were born skinny, and stay skinny, just never get it. They teach their children that "those people", people who are overweight, or larger than they are, are just undisciplined, or lazy, or overeaters. And their children are ruthless. Don't get me wrong--we NEED to teach our children to have a healthy attitude toward their bodies--and I LOVE what you said in this post--but in order to change things, people who don't have body image/weight issues NEED to teach their children too! Thank you for highlighting this issue--it is SO important!

Traylia said...

My nickname known to all was teaky leaky. What I found myself doing each day when I woke up, was to look in the mirror and put on my hair bow and put on some lipstick. Then one day my hair bow was gone, it was not on my VANITY!! Soon after, I realized it really wasn't gone because I had put both items in the vanity DRAWER!
So from that day on if I wasn't able to find these two things on my vanity, I knew they were probably in the drawer.

Atlantic Beachlife said...

Dear As Is,

What I read from Courtney's post I think, was pretty much you're point. I believe that she understands that her mother – and all of our mothers – did the best that they could with what they understood at that time.

I really do enjoy reading the comments that follow a thoughtfully written blog post. I even enjoy it when we disagree. I think that this is a very civil group. We can digest, agree, disagree - and still be friends. :-)

How beautiful that Stephanie and Christian's new baby arrived on the date of her official book release. Congratulations to the whole family!

Atlantic Beachlife said...

Sheesh. Please. I know that it's not supposed to be 'you're' -- but 'your'.

I hate when my fingers disobey my brain.

The M half of the M -n- J Show said...

Tears spontaneously came to my eyes when I read this and I'm struggling to hold them back. I'm 35 and needed to read this. Wow. Thank you.

kpaull said...

Just lovely! You have written many a beautiful post, but this one takes the cake...pun intended! I have no daughters, but I have sons who will have wives one day. I will share this with them so they can help their wives navigate the cycles of life, and I will hope they came from another such enlightened mother who has helped them define themselves in better ways than the number on their jeans! I love that we will ourselves back to a size from an age we would never want our spirit to revisit having grown beyond. Great image and too true!

Heather @ Raising Memories Blog said...

Beautiful.

Thank you for writing this down!

carla thorup said...

Every word is magic and your daughters are so very very lucky to have you as their mother. I'm pretending to be your daughter and will remember all of these beautiful words.

As is. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michiganme said...

Wonderful follow-up to yesterday's thoughtful post. So eloquent. (I'm guessing As Is didn't read today's post too carefully since she pretty much echoed what you already said)

Raychel said...

Love this, Courtney.

Charity Suzuki said...

<3

Fresh Hell, Texas said...

Brava!

Joann Mannix said...

Rarely a commenter, but ALWAYS a reader. I wanted to kiss my computer screen after reading this. Truly. Your words were empowering, mind-opening, soul-stirring and I have little goose bumps all over my arms from your beautiful truth.

Thanks for sharing your journey.

Christine said...

holy moley girl --

that's all I gotta say --

holy moley

Miranda said...

This was beautiful! I think I'm going to print this out on pretty paper and frame it on my wall. Thank you for putting so perfectly into words principles that my soul recognizes as truth.

minta said...

Thank you so much. I was just having a little struggle with food and my body a minute before I read this and now I'm motivated to believe in truths that will relieve me from those battles. I will do my best to teach my daughter(s) these things, also!

Seth and Natalie said...

I read the post preceding this one and have been thinking about it all day.Thinking that your mom wrote those things because she loves you, not because she thinks there was something wrong with you. I think you have a handle on it, and your manifestos are beautiful and correct.

Heather said...

Wow! You said everything I've been feeling recently. Of course, far more articulately. I want to print this out & mail it to every single woman I know. I married into a family that focuses far too much on the physical & I've felt very out of place recently, even after 9 years of understanding this was how they were. Especially so this morning when I turned on the news & saw my sister in law doing a fitness segment...It caught me completly off guard because I didn't know she was doing it! It bummed me out a little all day because I knew I'd never be like her. Nor did I want to be, but knowing that they all expect me to be. I've been unsure how to voice my thoughts & feelings. You said it. ALL! This is honestly one of the most beautiful pieces you've ever written. It was exactly what my spirit needed to hear today!

Lidia Lavonna said...

This is gorgeous, and true. Our bodies are reflections of our spirits. Our bodies are canvases on which are painted our lives. We should not feel ashamed of them or feel our self worth is written on them.

Lidia Lavonna

Keren Ruth said...

thankyou.

Chatty Natty said...

C- this was lovely, really lovely indeed.

XOXO

isshou ni said...

What I hope to teach my children—and to some day really believe not just in my head, but also in my heart of hearts:
I believe that our bodies are a stewardship. The world's perceptions of right and wrong in regards to our bodies is convoluted to say the least. When I am confused as to what I should or should not be doing in regards to my body, I picture myself standing before the Lord, giving him an accounting as to how I have treated my body. Was I a good steward? It really helps clear up the misperceptions. I also believe that our bodies are meant to need conscientious care and nourishing. I think it is meant to be that way so we can recognize that our spirits also need constant and conscientious care and nourishing. Certainly we do not worry about whether our spirits are fat, or curvy or naturally thin. We worry about whether they are properly healthy. I think that God sees our bodies the same way. We must be aware (not the same as worried about or obsessing over) of what we are eating and also make time to exercise to keep us healthy and strong. This is to help us be at our own personal healthiest and strongest in order to be able to be the kind of mothers, wives, citizens, etc. we want to be. What we do to actually accomplish “healthiness” is different for different people, and also different for us individually as we go through the many phases of our lives.
It has, indeed, never been about “fat” or “thin” but rather about who we are and how we are progressing in our journey of life.

Claudia said...

This truly spoke to my core. Growing up I've been told so, so, many hurtful things about my body. I can't tell you what a difference my life would have been like if I grew up with the beautiful words you share with your daughters. I feel as though I am beginning to understand you by this beautiful post.

Love said...

Thank you for this.

I am a bigger person, my husband is a bigger person and we now have an 8-month-old that is destined to be a bigger person. I can not tell you how many people a day ask me how much she weighs.

I've been trying to figure out how I"m going to deal with her weight with her. My mother was not nice to me about my weight, nor was hers to her. I want to stop the cycle so badly, but it's just so hard in our society.

I am LoW said...

Amen!!!

Ashley said...

I am in an eating disorder recovery program, and it's amazing to read something like this in a blog written by a woman I respect.

Thank you.

Elizabeth said...

Really beautiful writing and thoughts. I am nearly fifty and will take it to heart. And while my only daughter is seventeen and severely disabled, unaware of the "lies" and the truths, I hope to instill these principles into my two sons. I have a lot of work to do regarding myself!

codyandmeag said...

Seriously?

codyandmeag said...

Oops. Sorry thought you were pointing out grammatical errors in her blog post. My bad.

Julie said...

Thank you Courtney, thank you from the bottom of my heart, as a woman, a therapist, a mother, a daughter.
I think that what you have written is so important to have shared. Blessings.

LAM said...

Tears.

SmileyIsles said...

You are officially going in my quote book. It's a notebook I have where I write down quotes that have spoken to me. They are mostly Bible quotes, and now C.JaneKendrick. Thanks so much for your insight and for sharing it with us all

gretchen said...

Beautifully said. Thank you.

Brooke said...

This just may be the most brilliant piece you've ever posted. I needed this today and my daughter will need it tomorrow. Thanks Cjane!

Marni C. said...

And by the way, it is not our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers we should blame. It is our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers . . .

Erin H. said...

You need to write your book...you are a writer!

Roberta said...

Well stated! When I was pregnant, my mother, stepfather, mother-in-law and her mother, consistently told me that I was fat and needed to lose weight. I ignored them. But then when my daughter was 5 she stopped eating, and started starving herself to get "thin" because my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law told her every time they saw her, and I wasn't around, that she was too fat. I talked to her extensively when I found out, and showed her pictures of me at 5, and then 6, etc., and how I thinned out as I grew older (I never was stick thin though--just average). My daughter still didn't listen to me, so I finally took her to her pediatrician and explained to him what was happening. He opened the door, had me step out of the room, but where I could still see both of them, and quietly talked to her for about 20 minutes. I still do not know what he said to her but as soon as we got home, she started eating normally again. From that point on, I openly discussed body image and self-worth to each of my daughters from the time they were born. And while sometimes one of them has suffered rude remarks from others, she still is okay with herself and realizes they are the ones with the problem not her.

Chef Stinson Family said...

I have tears! Thank you for posting this. As a woman who has constantly struggled with my weight and now a mother to a daughter who does, this resonates so much with me. I want to teach my daughter to love herself and the body God has given her no matter what the shape is. She is in Kindergarten and already being teased for being taller and bigger than the rest of the kids (her dad is 6ft. 7in - it was inevitable) and it just aggravates me as these kids have already learned this bias from their parents and society. Hopefully women will take your words to heart and know that we are all beautiful in our own way!

Pierce + Stacy Thiot said...

I don't know if I've ever commented on your blog. But here it goes...

I was just talking about this with a friend; what we will say and teach our daughters about body image. I read an article a while ago about body image and the things we unintentionally say to girls in general. Instead of complimenting each other on our outward appearance each time we see each other, compliment each other on our spirituality, our souls, our intelligence, what we've read lately, how we've grown. It was a very insightful article for me, since I have struggled with body image issues my entire life. I want to be better for my daughters and sons so that they can be comfortable and love themselves. Parents play a huge role, because they were sometimes my biggest critics. I don't want to do that to my children.

Thank you for your honesty. It makes me think of what's really important in life - we came here for a body, and that's key and we should take care of it - but it shouldn't stunt our spiritual growth, it should only increase it.

Congrats on your new little niece!

Caroline said...

I am printing this out so that I can read it over and over and then I promise you I will teach this to my three daughters. And my son too.

Thank you.

Natalie said...

Your writing is truly inspiring. Thank-you for having the courage to be so honest.

Carla said...

I read you every. day. but rarely (like never) comment. But these body image posts you've been writing are so deeply beautiful and resonate with me so much that I can't help myself! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing your truthful perspective on a woman's body. Generations of women will thank you! I'm printing this out (and the 'Don't feed me' post) and reading them to myself and my daughters regularly (w/ due credit to you, of course). I. LOVE. YOU. but not in a stalkerish, creepy sort of way. Thank you, Courtney, thank you!!!

Michelle said...

Thank you! My friend guided me to this little gem, and I must say, you made my day. I am 36, and today I looked in the mirror and realized, for the first time in a long time and maybe ever, that I like the face I see. It isn't perfect. It has changed with time, but I didn't see that. I just saw me. My weight fluctuates. I have bad hair days. I like to exercise and I love to eat. I have a few more smile lines, and the sun has kissed my face quite a bit. And I like who I am, inside and out, and it feels darn good...and it feels good to read what you wrote. Our bodies are evolving...right along with our spirits.

Andrea said...

W-O-W!!! Thank you! Your wisdom is inspiring. Thank you thank you!

DAP said...

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart. I admire you so much. Your essence is beautiful -- and especially your ability to phrase your beliefs so utterly well goes beyond my ability to praise it. It's ineffable. I love your spirit/body. I guess I love your soul! I'm sharing this with as many people as I possible can. You are changing lives and I'm forever grateful to be one of them.

paparazzimom said...

AMEN!
And thank you. Thank you so much.

Lisa said...

Perfectly said. I read your blog all the time, just haven't commented. However, I can't not say thank you for your recent posts! I've never read something so concise and powerful about this topic before. Love it! The words really spoke to me and I will be passing them on.

Addie Gaylord said...

As a girl who has struggled with an eating disorder her whole life plus horrible body image issues this was like a flotation device being thrown to me while drowning at sea. I went to rehab two and half years ago and for the most part do ok but recently I have been struggling and reading this inspired me to pick myself up and dust myself off. The world has a horrible outlook on what a woman should look like and it's not reality and it's damaging. Im so sorry you struggle with this cause I get it and understand your pain all to well. I also know that your mother is a sweet lady and your best friend who never meant to hurt you or cause you pain. I probably won't have the chance to meet here on this earth in person but I can't wait for heaven as you will be one person I look forward to thanking personally for your excellent words and writings.

amanda said...

Oh my - so well said. I don't think I have ever commented here before - even after 4 years of reading. But I want a copy of this for my daughters!!! THANK YOU

flowtops said...

Body image is perhaps more of a hot issue in America than in Europe, where I live.

That being said, it's disheartening to see so many girls and women struggle with issues that are really non-issues.

And yes, the body is likened in the image of your soul. They travel together. Disconnecting that link is what makes us unhappy.

I love how you put that into words.

Nicki

Emily in Wonderland said...

Stephanie had her baby! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations Aunty!

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin said...

I love this!

If I had daughters it would be our mantra.

Thank you!!

emmalee said...

I feel a little silly sitting ehre with tears running down my cheeks!! But you truly spoke words I needed to hear. As a young woman with plenty of extra... shall we say padding? :), it's tough to learn how to love yourself AND your body, and not constantly be wishing to be petite. My spirit is growing so much at this time in my life, so why not let my body do the same? I think your fresh perspective was exactly what I needed to hear so that I can allow myself to continue on in progression. Your girls (and the Chief) are lucky to have a mother who is so divinely inspired and has such a way with words. Thank you for lifting my Spirit and enlightening my day!

Micah and Emily said...

Wow, thank you! I have often wondered how I will instill these vital principles to my own daughters in a world so completely focused on the superficial rather than the sacred nature of our bodies and their incredible potential and power.

Thank you Thank you!

Kylie said...

I'm expecting my first child: a son. And I know his father has struggled just as much, if not more so, with the lies the world tells us about our bodies. So I will teach him truths about his body, and about woman's body, and hope that the truth will conquer those lies. Thank you for writing. It's truly a gift.

Clancy and Katie Black said...

thank you! such beautiful thoughts!

Ashley said...

Courtney, thank you for your honesty. From the readers comments, it's obvious that many parents in the past made the mistake of not realizing the power of their words when raising their daughters.

We should NEVER feel ashamed of telling our story.

Now a days we owe it to our kids to use only words that uplift. Our media and society should also be held accountable.

If I were your Mother I would be very proud of the honest and kind example that you are setting for thousands of women who desire to raise their daughters to have self worth that is in tact and is not tied to their physical appearance. THANK YOU.

http://vimeo.com/28066212

Meg said...

This post meant a lot to me. I've gained 30 lbs in the last three years. 30. Everyday I feel bad about it. Everyday I look in the mirror and don't recognize this new girl looking back at me. I love how you said that we want our bodies to look the way that they did years ago but we wouldn't want our spirit to look the way it did years ago.

My spirit has changed just as much as my body in the last 3 years (probably more). I've mourned the loss of a baby I had at 21 weeks pregnant. I've also fought and won cancer. My soul has grown and stretched in ways that I didn't even think were possible. Why wouldn't my body? I'm viewing this in a completely different way tonight. Thank you. Please keep writing, souls need to hear this.

Becki said...

@Tami: Thank you for your comments! I have a teenage daughter who is also bigger than many of her peers. It is heartbreaking to see what she deals with at school. She exercises more and eats healthier than most of the children her age. She has a very different body type than me and my husband, which makes her feel weird. I hope that she always knows how amazingly beautiful and incredible she is. People come in all shapes, sizes, and shades. And they are beautiful.

Connie said...

My goodness! This picture is an exact copy of your babies!

tarynn said...

thank you so much for your words of wisdom

Noelle said...

for years i've been working on exercising to make me feel good and be healthy, not a size zero. i'm a good cook and i like to eat what i make. my biggest issue is how i eat and eat and eat and eat. I think this post made me pause and think about loving and respecting my body because of it's nature. if i did that, would i eat until i was sick. literally and spiritually?
thank you for this thought provoking look into what makes me tick.

Naomi Jackson said...

What a beautiful sentiment! I will bookmark this page and write it down someplace important so that I won't forget to tell my children these wonderful truths! Thank you so much!

M. Mellor said...

Needing this post today, so I searched and searched for it & sighed with relief when I found it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing these words and reminding me of such truth.