“Love” is a four letter word. That puts it in a category with a few other choice words that I was told early on to never let cross my lips.
But “love” is the only word with conditional rules: we are encouraged to love others, and in today’s society, no one will judge you if you use that word with shoes or your favorite television show, but try saying you love yourself, and you’ll probably hit a verbal roadblock. Something in your brain fires off that says you’re being conceited, vulgar or just plain wrong.
It’s easy to get around the rules with certain things. I can say I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished in life or just declare that I’m pretty smart and avoid the L-word altogether. If I stepped out on my balcony right now and shouted to the world (or my neighborhood) that I have a weird talent for picking up things with my toes, I might get a few looks and a few shouts back of “prove it!” but it would most likely just end up being an unconventional ice breaker when I saw them next week.
Then there’s loving your body. There’s no way around claiming it as your own; you have to say you love your body, and that sends up all of those warning shots in your brain.
It took me destroying my body to realize how much I loved it. I looked in the mirror at a shadow of the woman I used to be, and realized how much I appreciated the old me. Now that my reflection is back the way it used to be, I’m trying to more actively love it. Instead of catching myself on that four letter word, I’m learning to say it quietly to myself (and occasionally really loudly to my husband or a close girlfriend).
I’m learning to say that I love my big, blue eyes and the way they crinkle when I laugh really hard. I’m learning to say that I love my arms for being strong enough to hold the ones I love close. I love my hips for the way they can swivel on the four-count of a good salsa dance and my long legs for always letting me reach the top shelf at the grocery store. I love that this is the body that will someday bring my children into the world and that it made a pretty excellent hanger for the cupcake of a wedding dress I wore.
Most importantly, I’m learning that there is no shame in loving my body. Love may be a four-letter word, but it’s one of the best ones.