What if I don’t Want to Love My Body?

The first time I thought about my body
I was a sticky thirteen.
My religion teacher was always telling us,
“Your body is a temple,”
which just meant,
“Don’t have sex,”
because
you know
Jesus Hate Sluts.

Ten years later, everyone says,
“LOVE YOUR BODY,”
and I can’t stop checking myself out in every mirror I pass.

“Love your body,” whispered like a prayer
& all I hear is,
“Your body is a temple.
Your body is a temple.
Your body is a FUCKING TEMPLE.”

What a joke:
I never hated my body
until someone told me not to.

II.

“Your body is a temple.”

My body is a wasteland.

My body is an empire, long-fought-over and oft-desecrated by a war I didn’t start, fought with curling irons and tubes of lip gloss.

My body is a canvas upon which I have painted a thousand versions of myself – versions I’d hardly recognize now, versions I wish I could get back.

My body is evidence in the crime of my life that proves
definitively
I did not sit back.
I was not a passive observer.

My body is a vessel, which is to say
it is nothing / it is everything.

“Your body is a temple.”

Don’t tell me about my body.
I’ve seen my reflection.
It doesn’t tell half the story.

III.

At work, Bobby the Regular always sits at the bar
and greets me with, “You look gorgeous.”
He looks me dead in the eye with such grave importance,
like the revelation might save my life,
or like he’s the first man to ever wanna fuck me.

I know he thinks he’s doing me a favor,
but
I’ve never felt less confident
than when a strange man
tells me I’m beautiful.

IV.

The first time my daughter comes crying to me that she hates her body,
I will not tell her she is wrong.
Instead, I will look her in the eye and say,
“Your lungs fill up with air involuntarily
& your heart beats 80 times per minute
& when you fall off of your bike and skin your knee, you cry because it hurts
& your body is not a temple.
You don’t have to worship at its altar.”

I will tell her all the things I should have told myself.

 

–Samantha Irene

Samantha is a writer and actor based in New York. Last summer, she wrote and directed her first web series, “The Company,” set to come out at the end of the year. She can also be found delivering snark on Twitter and selfies on Instagram.

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