The courage it takes to share your story might be the very thing someone else needs to open their heart to hope
BY GILLIAN FORTIER
Christmas has its cookies; Valentine’s Day has its chocolates; Halloween has its candy; Thanksgiving has it all. The turkey. The cranberries. The pumpkin pie. There is, perhaps, no American holiday more food-centric than Thanksgiving.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of body-shaming, particularly on Thanksgiving. “It’s a cheat day – I get to be bad today!” and “I feel so bloated” and “I’m going to go run X miles – as soon as I can move again!” seem like bonding opportunities, connecting us to our loved ones when politics, religion, and world-views may divide us.
It’s so contradictory, though, that on this day of thanks we berate and bemoan our bodies so much. Our bodies keep us alive! We would have nothing to celebrate without them. So this year, instead of body-shaming ourselves (and inherently body-shaming everyone around us) let’s give thanks for our bodies.
Let’s give thanks for our bodies keeping us alive. Our lungs take 23,040 breaths a day; our hearts beat 115,200 times from midnight to midnight! Our skin can heal the littlest scrape and the largest gash – literally regenerating itself. The brain has 1,000,000,000,000 neurons, creating a quadrillion neural connections, allowing us to think and remember and hope and dream and do all of the things that make us human.
Our legs let us run and dance and jump for joy. Our arms help us to pick up children and hug our families. Our backs keep us standing strong and tall, and our abdomens contain some of our most vital organs. Our hands let us write and pet dogs and hold hands with our special someone’s. There is so much to be grateful to our bodies for.
Keep in mind: when I say the human body, I mean yours. I mean mine. Every single human body is wonderful and amazing and worthy of thanks and praise this Thanksgiving. Treat it as such. Speak of your own body as generously and lovingly as you would your best friend.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful. I’m thankful for countless reasons: for my supportive family; for my ability to get a higher education at UNC; for my sweet friends and housemates (and our fluffy kittens!); for my access to constantly clean water and nourishing food; for my endlessly loving boyfriend; and for a thousand reasons besides. This year especially, though, I’m giving thanks for my body – this one, the one I have, exactly as it is – and the wonder that it is.
If you or someone you love may be struggling (or if you just want to hold a more body-positive Thanksgiving celebration this year!), please check out some of the links below:
For those who need support: