talking body



I read this line on the internet, a couple of weeks back, and since then I have not been able to stop thinking about it: the amount of brain space I dedicate, it said, to thinking about my body. It is staggering. 


I keep the words loose on my tongue, quietly buzzing. The amount of brain space I dedicate to thinking about my body. I replay them when I am doing something else; when I am drinking in the sunshine or making a cup of tea. I think about them when I find mirrors, when I undress myself, when I am eating, when I splay my hands across my rib cage. I notice it, now. And it is staggering, indeed


I dedicate brain space to the way my face looks when it is naked; to the acne I have not managed to get a hold on ever since I have stopped taking the Pill last May; to the purple circles under my eyes that couldn’t care less about the amount of sleep I get; to the shape of my jaw which I am never really convinced looks good, even though I don’t even know what look good looks like. I dedicate brain space to my collarbones and my ribs and the width of my wrists, check the groves of my hipbones, the soft of my stomach; to the shift of my skin and my flesh and organs and bones, the waxing and waning tide of the space they take up.


And the thing is, I do not think twice about my body, mostly. I am distracted by other things; I know it is strong, and healthy, and somewhat beautiful, and I do my best to take care of it and have fun with it. But the background noise of it; it is constant. I thought I was at peace with it but it mostly feels like a tentative truce.


I do not want to dedicate so much brain space to my body and the way it looks. I don’t want to scrutinize it in search of thinness and imperfections. I want to not care. It matters to me that it is well; I want that to be the only thing that matters. How do we do that?


In The Creative Habit, choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp mentions this exercise where she stops looking at her reflection for a week. She covers up mirrors, forgets what her face looks like. What is it like, she asks, to live without having to constantly look for what you look like? And what to do you see, when you come back to them; to your body and your face? 

I want to learn to not let it matter. To let the background noise fade. It is not my body’s job to be beautiful, and even less by someone else’s standards.



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