I set out to write into why this passage from Dr. Estes’ Women Who Run With the Wolves, touched me so deeply:
“Women who are big or small, wide or narrow, short or tall, are most likely to be so simply because they inherited the body configuration of their kin; if not their immediate kin, then those a generation or two back. To malign or judge a woman’s inherited physicality is to make generation after generation of anxious and neurotic women. To make destructive exclusionary statements about a women’s inherited form, robs her of several critical and precious psychological and spiritual treasures. It robs her of pride in the body type that was given to her by her own ancestral lines…
To attack a woman thusly destroys her rightful pride of affiliation with her own people and robs her of the natural lilt she feels in her body no matter what height, size, shape she is.
In essence, the attack on women’s bodies is a far-reaching attack on the ones who have gone before her as well as the ones who will come after her.”
Here are my reflections.
May they be useful.
In the Body of My Mother
I grew up in the Southern United States: North Carolina, Mississippi, and largely in Houston, Texas. The celebrated beauty standard for women and girls in those places, in that time was essentially – thin, small framed, and of European descent (white folks).
I remember being on a school bus, on the way to Kindergarten in Mississippi, heartbroken as and two older boys snickered and gawked and pointed at me. In thick Southern accents, they said, “You ugly little Indian!”
Or maybe they didn’t say ugly. I don’t remember. I just knew they meant it as an insult. And that’s exactly how it felt. I shrunk in my seat, looking down – wishing I could disappear.
As a child who loved the outdoors, as a child who was half Mexican, my skin was almost always a deep and golden brown. Until that day, it had not occurred to me to be ashamed of it.
That was the first time I remember being embarrassed about my body.
But, there was more to come.
Growing up my Mother, like so many Mothers I knew, was almost always on a diet. She ate different food than us and required rigorous exercise to keep her…well, okay. I’m not sure how often she said the words, but her actions communicated that there was something wrong with her body, specifically the way it looked, and she was constantly trying to fix it.
This was confusing to me, as I remember my cousins and friends constantly talking about how pretty my Mom was (something that goes on to this day, by the way).
As my body grew through puberty, it was revealed that – low and behold – my Mother’s body was my body. We were naturally athletic and strong. Legs and hips built like tennis players. Wide-ish in frame and thick. Sturdy & curvy.
My whole Maternal side of the family, my Mexican side, had/have these same qualities.
As I came of age, trying to find my place in the world, I observed what was considered beautiful in movies, magazines, and even in the tastes of boys at school. I found nothing of myself in it.
I was not white, not exactly. “What are you?” said so many kids, bewildered by my ethnically ambiguous looks. I was certainly not thin or small in frame. Despite being an objectively healthy girl, inside I felt enormous, ugly & ashamed.
Thus began my shrinking act.
From the age of 12 through well into my 20’s, I adopted my Mother’s outlook on this form of ours: battle. In an effort to make myself physically small, I took diet pills, went through fits of bulimia, I exercised to the point of exhaustion, drank only Slimfast.
I yo-yoed a lot – and so did my confidence.
I was at war with my body.
I was at war with its natural shape.
I utilized so much of inner attention
Beating the walls of me
Roaring with insult after insult
and starving my body
like the prisoner of war that it was.
I can say, from this vantage point, years later, I hated my body so fiercely, at times, I swear, the hatred almost killed me.
But, then a blessing.
In the form of a teacher.
It wasn’t until my first intense metaphysical experience, which came through being guided through my own Chakra System by Fay Simpson, that the tide began to change.
As my spiritual journey unfolded, I began to have visions of my Mexican and Native American Ancestors. They quickly became treasured guides of mine, holding my hand, initiation after initiation.
I began to see them and feel them in my body. Their presence began to work on me.
Slowly, the layers of hatred and cultural conditioning that had incased my spirit & mind began to shed.
I began to see how my strong and sturdy body mirrored the perseverance and enormous power of my people.
I began to see my golden brown skin as a link to the mystical golden terrain of the land in south Texas and Mexico.
I began to feel my wide hips, so sensuous and expressive in their movements, as the carriers of the raucous passion, colorful creativity, and wildish fertility of my ancestors.
My body slowly became a home,
filled with warm unconditional, familial love.
My body became a place where mystical guidance was whispered constantly within.
My body became beautiful, in my eyes.
And I’m deeply grateful to report that now I find my body to be gorgeous and delicious and amazingly alive, and simply, the perfect home for my soul.
Miraculously, as this process has unfolded over all these years, I have been witness to my Mother coming to love her body too. To see her revel in her form is a sight truly so beautiful, my heart swells and my eyes tear as I write these words.
During this Moon Cycle, where we, as a community, are exploring living “In These Hips”, I cannot help but feel our ancestors around us. For the hips are intrinsically linked to our roots, to our lineages.
And contemplating that can be big and complex. Especially, when there is wounding, pain, disfunction in our blood lines, as is true of all bloodlines. It can be a disorienting thought/experience for those who have been adopted and share the spiritual inheritance of their family, along side the physical inheritance of their birth family.
Perhaps we can trust in our bodies to be the most perfect & rich soil through which each of us can grow in this life.
Perhaps we can trust ourselves to uncover the treasures (active or dormant) bestowed upon us by our ancestors.
Perhaps we can send healing & love backwards and forwards through the generations.
Perhaps we are perfectly equipped.
Perhaps it is time.
NOW, YOUR TURN:
Dr. Estes writes that our inherited bodies possess, “several critical and precious psychological and spiritual treasures.” Does this resonate? Are you aware of any treasures inherited through your body? Your hips? Please share a sentence, a paragraph, a poem – whatever you wish. Can’t wait to read ‘em!
ON THE HORIZON IN 2018
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