I don’t know when it started for me, but I have criticized my body for as long as I can remember. Maybe it was the way the girls at school used to tease me for my skinny ankles. Maybe it was the fact that I bloomed later than my sister. Maybe it was the way the town fathers publicly hot-iron branded me with the letter A after I had an affair with an influential town minister. All I know is that the body-shaming stops today. I’m ready to take my power back and I hope you are, too. Here are five ways you can learn to love your body again while being publicly shamed for making a sin-baby with a pious Man of God.
1. Practice body acceptance. I used to wish I had rosy cheeks like my friend, Pentecost. Pentecost used to wish that she didn’t have a skin condition that outwardly reflected her interior moral decay. Now that I’m a mother, I realize how unrealistic these body standards are for young women. Since causing a Righteous man to stray from the narrow way with my own carnal knowledge, I have stopped spending hours of my day scrutinizing every inch of my stomach and legs because I’ve realized that the only body type that really matters is a six-months-pregnant, unmarried body that can no longer be hidden behind a large basket of flowers. And now? I love that body!
2. Make a list of all the things your body allows you to do. Maybe your body allows you to kneel in the garden each morning and to walk your little brother home from school each afternoon. Honor that. Maybe your body is in a pillory, and it can’t move, and people are laughing at you. Honor that, too. Focus on what your body does well in that moment. Focus on the strength in your legs. Your legs are strong and toned from carrying around the baby of the minister you coaxed out of his nuptial bed. When the Counsel of Holy Men release you from the pillory, your legs will still be strong enough to carry you home and… wait, is that your mom laughing at you, too? Is that your little brother? Is that your mom lifting your little brother onto her shoulders so that he can see you and laugh at you with the crowd? Jedediah’s not even old enough to understand adultery yet!
3. Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy. Okay, let your weight keep you from one activity you enjoy.
4. Wear comfortable clothing that expresses your individual style. I used to try to wear slim, black clothes like all my friends, but styles change and bodies change. Sometimes bodies change faster than you’re expecting, actually, and your style isn’t even up to you anymore. Sometimes you have to wear that baggy dress that Goody Temperance sewed for your fat cousin, FearGod, and sometimes you have to publicly display a blistering red A on your flabby upper arm because the Godly won’t allow libidinous Jezabels to conceal their problem areas. In this case, focus on the parts of yourself you love. Look past the good wife shouting in your face, “DAUGHTER OF BELIAL. YOU HAVE BROKEN THE COVENANT,” and observe your reflection in the window of the customhouse. Notice how radiant your hair has become in the sunlight. Hold your head high and look at the jeering crowd with confidence. Tell yourself that they’re just jealous of you and your hair.
5. Leave a note on your mirror that says, “I am beautiful.” Look at it every morning. After the town fathers have cut your hair from your head to prevent the town brothers from stumbling into sin, dissociate in front of your mirror each morning. Let the note float in and out of your field of vision while reminding yourself that you are beautiful. Scrutinize the letter A burned into your skin. Tell yourself that now is as good a time as any to get out of Massachusetts.