My sister calls after her first college art class
like she had seen the face of god, she tells me:
“Leah, I sketched my first nude model today!”
A swell of superficial excitement gushes out of me:
I’m body positive!—duh.
I’ve been reading all these Buzzfeed articles—
I’m the herbal-remedy-self-care vegan my friends expect me to be, right?--
I’ve been telling them to love themselves--
I’ve been hashtagging #selflove in all my instagram selfies--
The body is powerful and diverse, yeah, of course--
The body is beautiful--
My body is…
As she describes the 60-year-old woman’s belly folds and birthmark with such awe and detail, I’m caught up in:
It’s jiggling in my jeans.
The acne on my forehead.
They’re staring at it, I know.
How much did I eat for lunch?
How much do I deserve to eat for dinner?
The body feels less like art and more like a game that I never signed up to play.
My belly--next month’s project--
the acne—I should really try a new cleanser--
I can’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror
and didn’t see something I wanted to fix.
I have been trying to fix this body because I was taught that it existed for someone else’s pleasure.
I was never taught how to love this body
Last night I got off Buzzfeed, surrendered to the mirror and intercepted every criticism with:
I am a miracle.
Billions of atoms bounce around inside me.
I have an entire system dedicated to breath.
A brain that makes music out of sounds.
Hands that know how to love without being told.
I went to bed like a doe curling up on the moss, content in herself,
like she knows that nature doesn’t make mistakes.
This morning I looked in the mirror and saw a strawberry patch in my mind and
two rainbows beaming out the corner of my eyeballs.
I’m holding onto this feeling.
I am learning to love myself in the grocery line, in the
Monday morning bedhead,
the way I love everyone else.
Maybe soon I could stand before you bare bodied and free,
head held high,
ready to be sketched like that 60 year old woman
with a confidence that college students will call home about
like I know that I
ABOUT LEAH WEIGEL
Leah Weigel, 21, is currently studying Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. She is a published songwriter, performer, activist, and a spoken-word poet. Social justice is the bedrock of Leah’s life, and she strives to use her creative modalities to speak to themes such as women’s empowerment, LGBTQ rights, climate justice, racial issues, and global education. When she isn’t writing, protesting, or singing, Leah can be found climbing trees, hiking, or making friends with your dog.