It is a theme common among western women to be unsatisfied with their body and the way it looks compared to society’s ideals. We compare and complain about this wrinkle or that part of our body and how we wish were just 10 pounds thinner or our hair was just a little longer or smoother or that our stomachs or behind were a little flatter or fuller. We do this to ourselves and to others and I used to fall prey to this self-hate and disappointment with my body image, but no more – I am taking Eve Ensler’s advice on “Loving Your Tree.”
I watched this video clip and was inspired by the message that Eve received from the woman she was interviewing (once I got past the terrible accent she uses to relay the woman’s story). Eve had asked an African woman what she thinks of her body. The woman was very direct and described incredible things that her body does and how appreciative she was of it. When we choose to compare ourselves to the image of “woman” created by society, it can be easy to forget that our bodies are amazing. Our bodies create and nourish life, and they help us to accomplish our daily tasks no matter how simple or herculean they may be. They deserve to be celebrated, and I needed to be reminded of that.
I set out to create my tree after watching that video and reflecting on the life growing inside of me. I thought about all I had overcome and accomplished as a woman – childbirth, breastfeeding difficulties, overcome postpartum and then worked through prenatal depression and maintained a career and a healthy relationship. The only reason I was able to do all of this was because of what my body could do. I am amazing because I am a woman.
Being a visual artist, I felt that to do justice to myself and the journey I am on I needed to create my tree. I thought about where I had been, where I am now, and where I wanted to go with the idea of loving myself. I work a lot with symbolism, and I needed to marry the idea of a tree with my body. After much reflection I came to the conclusion that I could only do myself, my body, and my journey justice with the paper birch.
I grew up watching these trees year after year shedding away the old papery bark and revealing beautiful new bark. Sometimes this rebirth would create scars on the tree reminiscent of the beautiful silvery stretch marks on my own body from my son’s birth and the newer lavender marks from my current pregnancy. This is definitely my tree: it is a celebration of the beauty of the process of stripping away the old negative perceptions of beauty and the uncovering of the beauty that is my motherly body.
So are you up for the challenge and feeling inspired to “Love Your Tree”? Tell us how you plan to make peace with your body and celebrate the wonder that is woman.
For more stories to inspire you to love your tree please take time to read these articles:
- Love Your Tree – Amy of Anktangle A beautiful post that discusses the parallels that can be drawn between the stages of a woman life and trees.
- On Body Image, Pregnancy and BMI – Amy of Anktangle Another beautiful and celebratory post of the amazing accomplishment that is a mother’s body.
- Beautiful Bodies – Dulce of Dulce de Leche Mindful ways to create positive body images for yourself and your children.
- Who I’ve Become – Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen Reflective post about how the author’s perception of her body has changed as she’s grown as a woman.
- The Body Image Carnival – mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting A Western woman’s journey to Africa where she finds the beauty in herself and her physical form.
- My Daughter Doesn’t Care So Why Should I? – Jennifer of Hybrid Rasta Mama A mother’s reflection on her child’s perception of her and how her perception of herself affects her daughter.