25. Missing Body Parts

25. Missing Body Parts

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Missing Body Parts

Be present in all things and thankful for all things.

~Maya Angelou

While rummaging through a drawer in search of an old photograph, I came across a picture of a teenage girl. Dressed in a navy and gold pep club uniform, she’d positioned her pompoms to cover each hip. Her blond hair cascaded past her shoulders. My eyes followed the blondness downward and then stopped abruptly — someone had snipped her legs off with a pair of scissors.

I tossed the photo aside and continued my search.

I found more photos of this girl, from her teen years through to motherhood. In one picture she resembled a skeleton, with her gaunt frame and protruding cheekbones; in another, she looked three times bigger. I found plenty of in-between ones, too. These photos, too, had missing body parts — whole legs, thighs, her derrière, even an upper arm had vanished.

My heart ached for this young woman. What had made her despise her body so much that she had cut it up and thrown away pieces of it? I wished I could travel back in time to speak with her.

If I could talk to that long-ago girl, I’d encourage her to cherish, nourish, strengthen, and care for her body. This magnificent creation of flesh and blood hopefully has a long road ahead and will carry her through a lifetime. Thanks to her body, she can feel, see, hear, walk, touch, and maybe even bear children one day. With it, she can hold her loved ones close, feel the warmth of the sunshine, or wipe away a teardrop.

I’d remind her that many of the greatest, most celebrated, successful women throughout history were curvy, confident, and beautiful. And that all the dieting in the world won’t make her happy — it will just cost her money, time, health, and her sanity.

I’d encourage her to discover her strengths, talents, and pursue her dreams.

I’d remind her that size should never define who or what she is. The size of her waist, hips, or thighs is not nearly as great as the size of her heart.

These photos, too, had missing body parts.

I’d tell her that life is too short to wear only black, and that she should wear what makes her feel alive and beautiful.

And I’d tell her that everyone deserves to be pampered and spoiled. So she should soak in a candlelight bath, eat that ice cream cone, and savor that glass of wine.

Because one day, she’ll look back on those old photographs and wish she had lived, laughed, and loved more. But thankfully, it’s never too late to change your attitude and love yourself.

I know . . . because I’m the one in the photographs, the girl with the missing body parts. And now I’m whole.

~Jill Burns

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