“The Flesh is the Surface of the Unknown”

Written by: Florence Taglight, contributing writer for Unpolished Journey and blogger at findingflo.co.uk

When an Artist starts a new artwork, they don’t start by imitating one they have already seen, one done by Hockney or Rothko.

When Musicians write a new song they don’t use the lyrics to other songs, or the same beat as the last number 1 hit (albeit, they come around, there are only so many words and notes)

And so why do we look at others and decide that’s how we should look too?

(N.B inspiration is allowed, after-all where would we be without it (Ellen D))

How boring would an art gallery be if each room were filled with the same paintings?

How tedious would car journeys be with every song the same? (Maybe this wasn’t the best metaphor as so many songs do indeed sound the same but imagine no indie-pop or Bob Marley dispersed throughout the Bieber’s and Swift’s).

And how DULL would life be if we looked all the same.

Wait.

New thought – Imagine if all dogs looked the same? No cute squishy faced pugs. No Great Danes standing next to a sausage dog the length of it’s own leg. Just all the same one dog. I mean not only would that be boring but talk about CONFUSING!

What I am getting at here is what Victor Hugo puts eloquently in an abridged version. The flesh is just the surface, that’s all it is, a layer on the top, like the waves are the surface of the ocean.

The ocean itself is far more than the waves, and you are far more than your flesh.

And I can appreciate the former so whole-heartedly, so why can’t I start to appreciate that I, too am more than the flesh on my body?

Although I will never visit the ocean floor – if it means wearing any further equipment than a snorkel; I tried, I really did but me + underwater with no escape is a bit like those horrendous food concoction lists you see on Buzzfeed…(e.g. Hot Chocolate & Curry…feel free to Google the rest if you are that way inclined.), hence never discovering an amazing new type of starfish or seahorse. What I will do is try and discover something new about me; and that’s why you should try to discover something new about you too – on a regular basis.

Alike paintings and songs and dog breeds (not saying I am pro crossbreeding dogs) even animals in general there are always more to discover. You may think you know all your talents, whether that be singing, dancing, eating a whole tub of hummus most days… I guarantee you can find one more hidden beneath the waves.

The Body Wasn’t Meant to Shrink

Written By: Emily Rutherford, contributing writer and mental health advocate. Check out her Instagram @artwithanxiety for more of her work!

My body wasn’t meant to shrink, it was meant to stand tall and grounded.

My body wasn’t meant to make me feel insecure. It’s meant to make me comfortable in my skin. It’s the only thing that hasn’t given up on me, how could I possibly hate it?

My body wasn’t meant to be punished. It wasn’t meant to be starved, scratched, cut, and given up on. And, those scars are now signs that I am stronger than my mental illnesses. That depression and my eating disorder did take control at one point, but I’m not letting that happen anymore.

My body is not yours. It’s mine. It takes me where I need to go, tells me when I’m hungry or full or tired.

Learning to love my body still seems like a daunting task. And, it doesn’t happen overnight. Right now I’m learning to not hate my body. It doesn’t mean I have to go from hate to love. I can feel indifferent about it or even insecure at times, but my body does not define me. I’ve been weight restored for a while now, and last night as I got out of the shower hating every inch of it, I told myself “this is what i’m going to look like for the rest of my life, I should probably stop hating it and trying to change it. I should probably work on acceptance.”

Normally I hate “should” statements, because they drove my disorder. “You should go to the gym.” “You should skip lunch.” “You should go on a diet.” “You should wear pants and longsleeves in 90 degree weather.” “You should hate yourself.” The list could go on and on. The difference now though is that body acceptance is in line with my recovery. It’s what I’m encouraged to learn, and it’s not something I let myself feel guilty about that I’m not there yet. I’ve spent 15 years hating it, it’s going to take time.

Instead of saying you love your body, bring your attention to its functions. My legs allow me to walk around the city. My arms allow me to do art. My eyes allow me to see the beautiful world. My voice allows me to be heard. My flexibility is being enhanced through yoga.

Your body is SO much more than what it looks like on the outside. That’s the most uninteresting thing about you. Cultivate awareness to your personality, your spirit, your kindness, your hope. Don’t lose hope. Your body believes in you. Treat it kindly in return.

Finding the Body’s True Purpose Through Recovery

Look into the mirror, what do you see? Do your eyes automatically skim your thighs, labeling them as too thick, or your face as too round, or your stomach as too soft? Do you find yourself analyzing, criticizing, and judging each part of your external appearance?

Take a step back, close your eyes. Breathe. Think of your lungs filling and emptying with each breath, your heart beating each second, your brain firing thoughts and commands throughout your body. Think of the powerhouse your soul is housed in, how intricate and beautifully wired it is, how perfectly unique, and positively strong your body is. You are so much more than what you see in the mirror. You are meant to do, to see, to feel. You are meant to live and the body is simply the gateway into life.  The body is not the prize but the gift that you are given for which you can experience the world.

Recovery from an eating disorder is so much more than weight and eating food. Recovery lies far deeper than these external aspects, but there is some truth in them. Body, weight, and food are all significant aspects of eating disorder recovery. If you overlook one of them, then the foundation for which your recovery is built would be cracked and unsteady.

Recovery from an eating disorder is not about the weight, but it kind of is….

What I mean by this, is that recovery cannot exist until you are willing to surrender your body over to how it was naturally created to be.  You must look in the mirror and be able to look past your thighs, stomach, and face. You must be able to understand that the body’s outward appearance has little to do with what lies within. Because of this crucial concept, recovery from an eating disorder has a whole lot to do with weight. But, not with the physical number that we typically associate with weight. Recovery is deconstructing the meaning of the word weight.

Break that word down.

Tear it apart.

Redefine every single letter. 

If you were able to do see weight for what it is, a scientific measurement of your body, then maybe it wouldn’t be such a terrifying thing. Because weight is actual a beautiful concept. It is science announcing your body’s presence on this earth. It is a celebration that you are still here after all that your eating disorder has put your body through. X amount of pounds, means X pounds of legs, and arms, and stomach, and mouth, and ears, and brain, and lungs, and all the parts that make the body the masterpiece that it is.

Eating disorders like to try and convince us that we are one body part. My eating disorder likes to try and convince me that I am only thighs. That all my self worth lies on the width of my thighs. That if they are too big then everything, and I mean everything, in my world will fall apart.  But, I react differently now when my eating disorder tries to fixate on my thighs. I combat those obsessive thoughts with comments thanking other parts of my body for all that they do for me.

Thank you tongue for savoring the sweet taste of peanut butter.

Thank you ears for listening to the dub of reggae.

Thank you feet for allowing me to run, jump, and dance.

Thank you eyes for letting me see the sunrise.

Thank you toes, thank you lungs, thank you heart, thank you nose….

So on and so on.

Our bodies are far too elaborate, far too complex, and far too marvelous to be put into a number on a scale. All that number tells us is that we are here, we are alive, and we take up space. And every single person deserves to take up space. So, why not take up space in the most grandiose ways? Let your legs run. Let you throat sing. Let your lungs breathe. Because, you’re meant for so much more than what can be seen in a mirror.