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My Body, More Than Just an Aesthetic

A poem by me: Ardie Nickerson

My legs, my beautiful legs.

They continue to trudge on and on, never giving up on letting me do what I want to do and go where I want to go.

They’ve made it through everything and endured torture that no body should feel.

They stuck it out with me even when I pushed them to walk longer than they should, run faster than they were comfortable with, and even stand longer than they wanted.

I did everything in my power to shrink them. To get a thigh gap and smaller calves.

I spent day after day wishing for them to change and be something that they weren't.

They stuck with me through thick and thin, even with the extreme hate that I was giving them.

They allowed me to learn how to swim and play in the water.

My legs carried me to school on my first day of kindergarten.

They gave me a way to walk away from people that were giving me trouble and keep me safe.

Carried through every peaceful run along with every compulsive one.

They let me bike the trails with my family.

They allow me to do whatever sport I choose and even be good at them.

Allowed me to push however much weight I could manage on the leg machines at the gym.

They didn’t give up on providing me health, even when I gave up on doing the same for them.

My feet, my strong feet.

They’ve had it even worse than my legs.

They’ve allowed me to have fun and express myself since a young age, getting pedicures from friends and painting them myself.

Let me feel my toes in the sand while strolling along the beach.

Allowed me to tiptoe at night while trying to sneak one more episode of Arthur after my parents tucked me in.

Gave me something to stick in my siblings' faces on long car rides.

Endured long and uncomfortable lonely walks in whatever the weather.

Worn shoes weren’t made for walking that were closest to the door so I could sneak out for a walk without anyone noticing.

Took me through intense runs and high-impact workouts until I was sure that I burned enough calories to lose another pound.

Felt my hate towards them when they couldn’t walk anymore out of pure drainage.

They’ve stepped on the scale billions of times only to be stomped on the floor later on when the number wasn’t low enough.

My tummy, my forgiving tummy.

It was thrown upon feelings of hate and anger.

It allowed me to digest some of my favorite foods to keep me nourished enough to have adventures and fun.

Allowed my body to function properly in every way.

Let me know when I was hungry and full to ensure that I was energized.

It allowed me to wear clothes that made me feel confident and pretty.

Endured intense hunger and restrictions of the food I love.

It’s been forced to try every type of restrictive diet and restrictive caloric foods out there.

Been shamed and mocked by peers.

It’s listened to hateful words come out of my own mouth.

It’s been measured, examined, scrutinized, and picked apart.

It’s been physically hurt by my own two hands out of frustration for not being thin enough.

It’s been forced to discard nutrients that it needed only for aesthetic effect.

Been covered up with layer after layer of clothes no matter the heat or the activity.

It’s been compared to fake photos.

Pushed to try every ab workout out there while I aspired for a heavenly six-pack that would absolutely change my life for the better.

My arms, my enduring arms.

They’ve been set at impossibly high expectations.

They allowed me to grab my mother’s hands and play with her hair before I could even crawl.

They allowed me to learn to crawl before I could even walk.

They gave me the opportunity to learn and play my favorite sports.

They’ve given me the ability to have fun family game nights.

They’ve let me build and create whatever I felt called to.

Even when it did all of those for me, I still hated them and hurt them for no good reason.

Endured stress from overworking them in every workout possible.

They’ve suffered through being cut, burned, and scratched when I felt no way out.

They’ve bled not only externally, but internally as well.

They’ve been forced to shrink into unreasonable measurements to become below average.

Been covered and hidden, my own little secret that no one could know.

Been mistreated, beaten down, and remarked against by their own host.

My body, my perfect body

It’s been punished for things out of its own control.

It’s allowed my beautiful legs to run and explore.

It’s given me the opportunity for my tough feet to support me.

It’s allowed my forgiving tummy to work in every function it’s supposed to.

It’s given me the chance to use my enduring arms for strength and

It’s kept me healthy throughout my whole life and continues to.

It’s always allowed me to be born healthy and live healthily.

It’s sustained me in recovery.

It’s given me chance after chance.

But I know that if I keep relapsing, it won’t be able to be there for me anymore.

I know if I keep giving up on it, it'll eventually have to give up on me too.

I write about this because my body has finally hit a breaking point after so much torture. I thought I was fully recovered because I was eating enough, but I realize now that I wasn’t listening to what it wanted to do physically. After years and years of intense walking and running, my ankle finally gave in to the pressure of so much impact. I woke up one morning with pain in my foot. I ignored that and did my usual morning exercise, only making the pain worse. The muscle tendon in my leg and ankle was strained and the diagnosis was one that built up over time. I know it isn’t even a big diagnosis, because it’s already started to heal. It’s the fact that I can’t do track now because I can’t even walk without wincing out of pain that really makes this more serious. I traded my favorite sport to continue doing my compulsions. I have never been able to join track because of my eating disorder, but I’m finally well enough that I was able to sign up. I know that I didn’t cause this, ED did. I also know I’m strong enough to shut ED out though.

I love sports, but more importantly, I love life. I’m done putting my body through misery and I’m done being angry. Now I just ask for forgiveness from my whole body. I’m ready to fully let go of the harmful thoughts and stop giving in to them.

I hope you can benefit from this post in your own way, whether you have an exercise compulsion or a cleaning one. Feel free to make this post about your own life and struggles, because this can easily be switched out to relate to your own story. As always, thanks so much for reading this post. I’m trying to reach the right audience because more and more I’m seeing how many people are struggling in the ways I used to, so please like and share!

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