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Why You Should Celebrate Your ‘Post-Lockdown Body'

Years ago, in a time when prom dates and college applications were a priority for me, I went to a friend’s house to play video games and eat sugar-coated cereal all day. I’d been going through a tough breakup and wanted an escape. After losing a few rounds of Mario Kart, I placed my controller on the carpet and walked to the kitchen, almost passing the living room sofa unscathed. My friend’s mom, comfortably planted beneath a blanket and flanked by plush pillows, looked up from her book.

It was most likely something about tenuous relationships — she was a fan of drama. Her glare, brief and unpleasant, traveled from my feet to my head, followed by her saying, “I know you’re going through a breakup. But, you don’t have to just let yourself go like that.” She pointed to my stomach, rotund, with a single Frosted Flake hanging onto my comic book-themed T-shirt, to drive her point home.

She was a trainer at a gym. I was unacceptable.

Like many, my body has been a point of sensitivity, anger and insecurity through the years. Through its weight fluctuations, rashes and acne breakouts, my view of my body has gone from “just right” to “not OK” to “disgusting” to “how could I just let myself go like this” in no linear fashion.

So, when it was time to return to work a few weeks ago, to a job I’d never worked in person because I secured the position all while remote, my post-lockdown body didn’t look the way I wanted it to. Its legs threatened to rip pants, overextended and stretched beyond the design’s limits. Its arms flapping when waving at colleagues never greeted in person. Its owner, consumed with grief, longing to plant himself behind his computer screen, clothed in sweatpants and oversized T-shirts, in the privacy of his home.

I wasn’t ready for the world.

Shame can eat away at us with endless hunger. It can make it difficult to see the truth: our bodies are more than society allows them to be. In spite of all the ways they’re critiqued by relatives during the holidays, leered at in locker rooms and falsely represented in the media, we have permission to take pride in them. No matter how we look in this season of the pandemic, we can give our bodies the due recognition they deserve.

Admittedly, I don’t always exist in this state of appreciation about my body, but a recent email gave me the reminder of my worth I didn’t know I needed. It was a call to swap the mirror for a different type of reflection. To consider how feeding my body is necessary and how clothes fit isn’t indicative of my self-worth.

Now, for your reminder.

Here are three reasons to celebrate your post-lockdown body.

1. Your body informs.

Our bodies tell us when something is wrong, whether that something is an internal factor or external. Senses can tell us when something tastes delicious, when a texture feels pleasant against our skin, when what we’re hearing is enjoyable. Our bodies allow us to experience life in a variety of ways. Something hard to remember, when we’re hiding from the containers in which we exist.

2. Your body endures.

The challenges and pivots needed this past year and a half have done a number on us. From dealing with the stress of uncertainty, to dealing with the loss of closeness as we knew it before, to changes in diet and activity, your body has been with you through it all.

3. Your body nurtures.

Life post-lockdown has provided some of us with the opportunity to be in person with the people we love. Our presence can now bring forth stability, joy and strength like it couldn’t. But, even if we’re only afforded the privilege of showing up to the folks that matter through video, our presence makes all the difference.

I go back and forth with the term “body positivity.” I’m not always in a positive, cheerful mindset, and that’s OK. But, I’ve found I align better with “body neutrality.” Meredith Nisbet, of the Eating Recovery Center, says: “I don’t have to be happy with my body, I don’t have to love my body, but I can still acknowledge that this is the one body that I have… and so I need to be caring for that.”

It’s enough for us to care about our bodies. To see celebration as an acknowledgment of what’s always been true: no matter the shape, nor size, nor capability, each of our bodies is something of wonder, deserving of appreciation, ever-present as we navigate life this “new normal.”

Photo by Fred Kearney on Unsplash