“My body is a temple.” What a bizarre phrase. I mean most Bible (mis)quotations are a bit odd – All of Revelations for example – but this is the only one I’ve ever seen stitched on a pillow and repeated in well-being classes.
I understand the good the people who repeat this are trying to do, but it’s never really meant anything to me. I think it’s far more useful to me to remember that my body is not a building I might visit once a week. It’s certainly not Sunday-best. It is my home. And I can’t move out of it, I can only renovate.
And if there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s that I need to love the space I’m in. Hating my home, my body, doesn’t help me one bit. In fact, it can only ever hold me back, because mindless hate is never a good thing. You can’t move forward from mindless hate because you’ve no desire to make it any better.
My feet are calloused and my little toes are triangular after years of forcing them into impossible shoes. I have webbed feet which one particularly obnoxious little arse in primary school thought was contagious, but they carry me around and they’ve stepped on all my favourite places. They’ve carted me up a Grecian mountain to the steps of the Parthenon. They’ve dragged me around Disneyland. They’ve shriveled up in the salty Salcombe sea.
My legs look like a mismatched pair after a car accident left me with a massive hematoma and a swelling that never went down, but they’re long and they’re muscular because I spent years on the back of my horse, whom I loved dearly. I danced (badly) in a singing school and made wonderful friends there and had such a good time, I can scarcely believe it even happened to me. Those legs danced (still poorly despite weeks of rehearsal) on the same stage the Stereophonics performed on.
My bottom is very large and despite the squats, it’s always remained just a little too jiggly for my liking, but it’s sat on top of mountains. It has sat on Big Thunder Mountain in the pitch black which is the closest thing to free-flight I will ever come to.
My stomach is permanently marred by silvery rivers of stretchmark scars and my hourglass figure is lost in it, but (let’s get disgusting) it has digested a lot of weird and wonderful things. I used to feed it compost sandwiches when I was a toddler and it lived. My stomach is a hero and don’t ever doubt it.
My hands are large with squat-sausage fingers, but they’ve made delicate cupcakes and iced them with the vocabulary of a sailor. They’ve held crayons and later pens, and they’ve created work that has won prizes.
My body is not the place of worship; it’s the object of it.
And so is yours.