In the women’s sauna at the YMCA, someone is always talking to someone else. Today two women carried on about diets, about how they keep their figures.
“It’s just hard. I think I just need to recommit myself.”
“My problem is I try to limit my carbs and by the end of the day I’m starving. And then I end up cheating and…”
“That’s why I go to Starbucks cuz they’re the only ones that have Stevia there.”
These women, looking for an outside way to solve inside feelings that have all along been achey proof that there’s barely a distinction, conclude that they need new changes; new plans and diets that will help them finally finish something, end somewhere. They are sharing tools to more successfully suck it in and make it flatter, less conspicuous, more contained.
I want to tell these women in the steam room what I want someone also to tell me, that there is power in the abundance of skin, of whole body, abundance not of hanger but of joy, an expansive letting-out of ourselves that demands only love and embrace and paying attention. It is not so scary, but also it is.
I want to give these women the guidelines I want someone also to give me.
For example: Every time you say “should,” every time you think “I should be a different way and try a different way to make it happen,” say also something you already love about your own expanse.
And: Every time you say “wish,” every time you think “I wish the mountain scape of my chest and belly were only unremarkable mounds of earth on the fleshy map of my body,” write a note of acceptance to a wishful eager longing groping you of the future.
And: Give yourself moments of abandon. First in the safety of your room alone with the blinds drawn. Dance away from the mirror instead of toward it, repelled instead of magnetized, without clothes on. Move the way you most right then feel meant to.
And: Tell yourself the opposite of what you think you know. Tell yourself there is hope and release not in tying tighter the bonds that hold the walls that hold your body in, squishing it flatter till it’s feigning dead completely, but in starting to play at the knots till you’re finally breathing.