We all have a body. It's an essential part of being human, after all. But it is not an easy possession to carry. Having my body is a blessing. I don't mean that in the Pinterest-inspirational-quote way, although it is a blessing in that it can move and talk and love and dance and do all that good stuff. It is a blessing because my body is an easy one to have, which I know is not the case for so many people.
I recently added Roxane Gay's upcoming memoir to the top of my 'to be read immediately' list and pre-ordered it so I wouldn't waste a single second that I could spend devouring it. Billed as a meditation, if it can be called that, on food and the body from a woman who inhabits a body which is maybe the polar opposite to mine. Where she is tall, fat, and black, I am small, slim and white. It got me thinking, without even having read a page, about how different my experience of having a body must be. I have no doubt that this memoir will be arresting, emotional and gut-wrenching and I can't wait to get my hands on it.
I am lucky to have the body I do. I have no doubt that life would be harder with a different one. Whilst it is certainly not perfect and I have not always loved it well, my body serves me well. I am under no illusion that a pretty face and a smile gets you a long way, a longer way than it should. My body allows me to pass through life easily, socially acceptable as it is, and I could easily labour under the illusion that it is my personality, my mind, my drive that have opened doors for me, when that might not always have been the case. Not that my body did all the work, but it didn't stand in the way.
So many people struggle with their body, in an ongoing battle with no possible winners. I count my lucky stars on a regular basis that I have somehow ended up in a pretty decent truce with my body, and with food. Maybe it is my parents' excellent work in my formative years, maybe it is the result of discovering and embracing feminism, or maybe it's just pure laziness on my part - I really don't have the energy for dieting, which is a luxury that I exploit every day. Things may still change - I'm sure my metabolism is all downhill from here - but whilst my weight has fluctuated throughout my life, I have never had to actively do anything about it and it's settled at a size 10 without much effort. I should exercise more and eat more vegetables for my general health, but I really don't have to to stay slim.
It is easy for me to write a food blog, and to encourage you all to eat piles of brownies and not to worry about it. I realise what a privilege this is, and how it might be galling to some that a day doesn't go by that I'm not feeding my sweet tooth. I don't feel guilty about eating cake, and I feel a twinge of discomfort when people describe eating pudding as 'naughty'. The food you eat doesn't make you a good or a bad person. I mostly eat a fairly balanced diet because I love all food (except avocados), and that includes chocolate. I could stand to drink more water, and eat those aforementioned vegetables, but I'm relaxed about it - which seems to be the opposite of so many people I speak to.
It's not only that. Paul and I had to fill out an application for life insurance this week (for mortgage purposes!) and, in the eyes of the insurance company, we're totally healthy. We don't know the name of our doctor because we go so infrequently, have no major (or even minor) health problems at present, and also no family history of them. To see it so starkly on a page is a welcome reminder, for sure. Whilst our future children may bemoan inheriting my anxiety and height, or Paul's stubbornness and eyesight, I hope they realise what a good dip in the gene pool they've had when it comes to health.
I say all this not to boast, even if it sounds that way. More to acknowledge that having my body, rather than any other body, is an immense joy and advantage. Despite having this body, it's easy to snipe at it in low moments - it's a default setting, for women especially. Anything that feels wrong can probably be attributed to not being skinny enough or toned enough or tall enough or any number of endless complaints. But really? My body is doing okay.