Being 5’9″ doesn’t have classically feminine advantages. Finding shorts that cover more than a “working girl” length of leg is difficult and wearing high heels usually means towering over my date. In the world of athletics my giant stature is decidedly more appealing. Over the years my height made me a unanimous recruit among coaches, before even skill or experience could earn me a spot on the team. Still body acceptance remained a struggle. I obsessed about defying gravity and becoming smaller, while my body obeyed the laws of physics and grew taller. I constantly fought reality knowing her win percentage. Knowing I’d lose. It took a decade of defeat before I tapped out and wised up. Ten years before I realized that my real opponent was body dysmorphia; an eating disorder that crept in softly enough to avoid detection.
The good news is I got help, I got healthy and I got my life back. The bad news is that addiction is a beast that can never fully be vanquished. It feeds on human fallibility, so until we die or become robots it lies in wait. Even with the best treatment under my belt, I still carry the voice in my head that tells me I’m too tall, too big, that my clothes don’t fit, that I should be smaller… I just get better at shutting him up. I remind him how high I can jump, how far I can run, how I rock high heels despite his misgivings and he gets quieter.
But words aren’t enough. Action is required too. Movement can silence negativity and create change, no matter how small. Which is why I’ve changed things up a bit on the blog. I’ve dedicated each day to a single action, one verb. Everyday I’m charged with making it happen, trying it out, possibly failing, and then sharing the story. The idea being that everyday I have a reason to be grateful for something my body can do, even if shrinking to 5’1″ isn’t on the list. Today’s verb is leap and in an annoyingly cliche way I’ve taken a leap forward. But I prefer the story about me leaping through a city park on a Tuesday afternoon for no reason at all. Other than it’s fun and I can.
“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.” Cynthia Heimel