My research and writing about embodiment was birthed out of understanding the goodness of my body as both the medicine for and the fruit of eating-disorder recovery. But since my car accident, I have been in pain while sleeping, walking, standing, and sitting. And I have been kept from the experiences that had helped me feel the goodness of my body—the running, the yoga, the dancing. It now seems my remedy has turned on me, and the things that used to remind me that my body has always been good are just out of reach, create more pain, and are for now forbidden by my treatment team. I find myself wondering, Do I really believe my body is good—even now?
With years of practice, it has become natural to think that my body is good, that all bodies are good. But it requires something different to say that now—it carries a different weight for a person to say it when there is pain. Or illness. Or injury. Or disability. I was becoming aware of how much others might have to negotiate to know and believe that their bodies are good, especially when prevailing cultural values are against them.
In my campaign to join the existing voices helping us tell a new story about our bodies, I had neglected to see the privilege in my obvious physical ability. I suddenly understood a bit more of the challenge some may face when hearing this message, especially those who do not have the same access to movement, sensation, bathrooms, or stairs, or those who cannot know with certainty if a venue they are invited to socially will be physically accessible to them.
While I understood what it’s like to move through the world as a woman in a misogynistic and patriarchal culture, my vision was widening. I am European Canadian and light-skinned in a culture that has valued light-skinned people of European heritage. I was young, was in good physical health, and had a body that others might suggest resembles the ideal female form. I was educated within an academic tradition that has favored the wealthy, white male way of understanding the person, which meant I could move through many spaces and be respected and protected while using my voice. Even within this slice of society where my body was devalued in one sense, in other ways my form was also prized above others.
This led me back to one unifying truth: my body is good in a kind of moral sense and not because of appearance, function, or labels I use or others give me. My body is good simply because it is my home. What is true of me, underneath the stories we tell about our body, is true of you too. Your body is good simply because it is your home. Your body is good, no questions asked—though it may be the fight of our lives to remember and reclaim this essential truth for ourselves and each other.
I talk about this and more in my book, The Wisdom of Your Body. For more information, click here.