Today is the day when women {and men, I assume} get the opportunity to proclaim loud and proud that they LOVE their body. The challenge laid down by the We Heart Life team is to declare three things that you love about your body. What you love can be anything you like. Anything at all. When I posed the question on the Facebook wall a little while ago asking YOU what you would say, could you do it, a surprising number of you said no. That it would be difficult or challenging. Hard. As a reformed body hater, this makes me sad.

My reformed hater status is a hard-earned one. Years of disordered eating and pluses and minuses. Pages and pages of scribbled, hate filled notebooks lamenting the size, the shape, the worthiness. I wanted to be loved, desired, wanted, needed. I wanted to be thin, to be graceful, willowy and elegant. I cried and cried over page after page of what seemed to be genuine complaints. My disorders continued to spiral out of control. First under then over eating. Punishment for the disgusting things I knew about my self. Torture for not being who I should be.

A person can only live for so long like that. They either stop living like that or they die. That’s the cold hard reality of it. The tortured painful anguish of that will win in some form or another. For me it broke me down so far that when I started again I didn’t recognise myself. I chose for myself what tiny shreds of self I had left that I would keep. I watched others stumble and fall with disorders and self harm. I stood by as others were taken from us forever. Their loss became my fuel to be different. To be ok. To be in love with my body, my self and the life I was building.

And so I would say to myself;

Your body doesn’t have to be perfect to deserve love.

Your body doesn’t have to fit an ideal to deserve love.

Your body doesn’t have to perform like it’s supposed to, to deserve love.

YOU don’t have to be perfect, or fit an ideal or perform as expected to deserve love.

Bit by excruciating bit I pieced myself back together. I mended my heart, steeled my resolve and fought for change. Change for my thoughts, the thoughts of others and the ideal that pushed my buttons so hard in the first place. I used to burn with rage at this ideal. The very idea of it made me bite down hard to stop the hateful words spewing out. I would burn with hatred and fire for what the world had done to me. What life had done.

That fire consumed me just as much as the voice of negativity and hate. It had to be let go too. Forgiveness is an amazing thing. Forgiving the ideal, the people who had enforced it and myself most importantly for believing them. One day I woke up and I felt no fire. I felt no hate. There was only a hint of love. I genuinely felt love. Not every day is like this, but more often than not these days. It was a cool relief akin to an icy beverage on a hot day.

I was relieved.

So I want you to tell this to your children for me. Me, the child-less activist. Tell them to value themselves. Tell them they are loved. Tell them it’s the world that is crazy not them. Tell them, so they live. Tell them, so their hearts are full and their minds embedded with the idea. Tell them until they laugh and say, Mum I know, with an eye roll. Because when they know, when they laugh like you’re the crazy one it’ll be because the idea of hating who you are will be foreign to them. And then show them. Show them you love {heart} your body by being great to it.

And hope like hell they can hear.