Banter Bites with Bri
Hi! I’m Bri! Welcome to my column!
A bit about me: I’m a fifth-year psychology student at Tufts University and the President of Tufts Active Minds, a group that works towards breaking down the stigma around mental health and illness on campus. I’m hoping to head to graduate school for Clinical Psychology and work with individuals struggling with self-harm and suicide both in clinical and research work. In my free time, you’ll find me listening to music or crafting.
Steph thinks I have things to say, so let’s hope I can live up to it. Thanks for reading.
Feeling Sexy when you feel… not.
Dec 9, 2018
Society is constantly telling me that my body is lesser than.
Larger bodies are consistently seen as separate from sex and attraction, as if they are something to be “put up with”. I’ve been told that my partner might find me sexy despite my bigger belly and thighs, that I should hide my size on dates and make myself look thinner to be attractive. I’ve seen the media report that keeping myself “in shape” is something that I owe my partner, or is something that she expects.
Of course, It's not my girlfriend’s fault at all. She consistently makes me feel loved, tells me that I’m beautiful, and that she finds me attractive. But it's hard to remember this when there’s more going on.
It gets so much harder to overcome this when I’m not feeling well.
I’ve struggled with chronic digestive issues for a while now, and even though my girlfriend is understanding, kind, and supportive, it can make me feel ever so un-sexy. I often have trouble remembering that my body is not my illness, that I am not my illness. That the days that am feeling nauseous and (TMI alert) spend a lot of time on the toilet, the days that have some “gross” symptoms, don’t mean that I am inherently gross. It’s hard to overcome the idea that my girlfriend can overcome one thing, but it is harder to convince myself that she can overcome two.
My body is so much more than I perceive it to be on days that I’m struggling.
Whether you’re going through a chronic health concern or a mental health issue or just a bad day, take your body out of the picture for a moment. My body is still the same woman that my girlfriend loves, my body is still wonderful and beautiful. It can be harder still if you’re dating, and trying to find someone. If it feels tough, remember that you don’t always have to love yourself, some days you can just be with yourself, and that’s okay. Strive for progress, not perfection.
News flash from a good friend of mine:
Your qualities that are harder for you to accept are not something that are you are to be loved despite of.
Any partner that is worth anything will love you, the whole you, for who you are. It sounds kitschy, but it’s true.
Yeah, I don’t think my digestive problems are something my partner particularly loves me for, but it is a part of who I am. I’ve just got to figure out how to embrace it.
May 24, 2018
I’ve been reflecting a lot on my “body image” journey recently. How I’ve found power in my body, how I’ve found shame in it, how I’ve let it house a lot of physical proof of my emotions. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I let my body come to define parts of my mental and emotional struggles related to consent, eating, and unhealthy dieting. In the past year, I’ve realized that my body has, and always will be, a constant throughout whatever other struggles I’m going through, and that this is to be celebrated.
I’ll be forever grateful that this past fall I took a class on queer theory. While this was entirely out of my psychology comfort zone and scared the crap out of me, I learned so much about who I am, what I stand for, and how I relate to myself. One of our big projects of the semester was to write a “body manifesto.” The object I made for class was personal and reflective, and I’m quite proud of it. It brought up all of these thoughts I had regarding how my mental health interacted with my body, and how I had, for a very long time, let my body take the brunt of my pain. It was a project about how, even though we’re taught that mind and body are separate, they really aren’t.
In hearing about my peers’ projects, I found myself wanting to write another one, this time in the form of a letter to my body, to myself. Here goes.
Thank you for covering for me on days when I don’t think I can go on.
Thank you for continuing to move forward on days that seem like the end.
Thank you for persevering.
Thank you for two legs that let me stand tall, and long arms that let me reach the top shelf. For silky hair I can run my hands through and differently shaped pinky-toes that will always make me laugh. Thank you for that tiny freckle under my eye. Thank you for healing.
I am sorry for the ways that I have treated you.
I will stop letting you hold on to my pain.
I will stop inflicting my mental state on you by criticizing your stomach, your thighs, your arms. I promise to look in the mirror and find things that I love, instead of pointing out “flaws”.
I will buy you a bikini and I will tell you that you look hot in it.
I will marvel in your strength when we shoot arrows together.
I will thank each and every cell for working together to keep me functioning.
I will let you be loved.
Thank you. I’m sorry. I’m trying.
So, exercise for yourself: write yourself a body manifesto, in words, art, anything! How do you want to treat yourself and your body? What do you want to thank it for? Love it for? If you feel comfortable, send it our way!