A Soul and a Hull

I have struggled for so long to accept my body.
Today I realized there is no
thin person
inside of me
screaming to get out.

I am not made up of component parts
to be swapped and parceled.

I am not who I am
in spite of my body.
I am who I am precisely because
I inhabit this body.
My Body.

These thighs taught me perseverance,
told me I could climb mountains,
showed me I was strong and that I could endure
longer than I ever thought possible.

These calves (bless them) were too big for knee-high boots.
They showed me that I am not the standard,
disabused me of my egocentrism.
I will have to be creative
to find my place — my fit.

These arms taught me to cope with weakness,
how to be humble yet resourceful,
and that asking for help
is a strength of its own.

This belly
oh, this belly
my great source of shame,
the “ultimate proof” of my imperfection,
the evidence, I feared,
of my lazy, weak-willed nature
worn externally every moment of every day
for the whole world to see
an agony of constant self-consciousness.

This belly taught me
the best and most important lessons of all
it taught me to get comfortable being uncomfortable
it taught me how to absorb
bitterness, pain
(mine and others’)

and turn it into healing.

It taught me how to be soft
when the world would try to make me hard.

A constant physical reminder of my flawed nature,
it showed me that, visible or not,
everyone has flaws.
It continues to teach me how to accept
and forgive.

These teeth, with their years
of various metal implements late into my teens
taught me that even when you’re not totally feeling yourself,
confidence is sexy
and you definitely can make-out with braces.

This hair taught me that some things
are beyond my control,
and often, those things
are best left untamed.

This smile showed me
that I am capable of
Big, Bursting,
infectious joy.

It is not I
who made My Body;
it is My Body
who made Me.

I am not merely
a Soul and Hull
a Whole.

And while those arms may have encircled
my hips or my waist
without accepting my body
they never truly embraced
(in my entirety),

and if acceptance is the birthplace of love
and My Body the birthplace of Me,

then accepting (and loving) my body
is not and cannot be
the afterthought
it is essential
it is the linchpin

to loving Me.

And I
am finally ready
to love me.

Sarah is a student of the University of Utah School of Medicine class of 2022. She grew up skiing, hiking, and backpacking in the mountains around Bozeman, Montana. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Montana in 2015 with degrees in Human Biology and Psychology. When she’s not studying or playing in nature, she enjoys cooking, playing the piano, doing house projects, and watching stand-up comedy.