(All photos via Jade Beall)

Everyone (including any "body warrior") has their version of an Achilles' heel... or five. Believe me on this one.

If you search for synonyms for this term you’ll not only find weakness and vulnerability, but you will also find a list of the following: backjugularsoft spotunderbelly etc. Interestingly enough it includes body parts that are vulnerable; perhaps even prone to be hidden and protected.

I’d like to add to the list: my ass.

I'll be the first to tell you that I personally think I have a fabulous ass. I definitely feel comfortable showing it off... but there IS an exception- I'll highlight it but only under clothing. I've hidden my ass from everyone except those that I allow into my bedroom and it has long been one of my most shameful secrets. Why? Because it's scarred. "Embarrassingly" scarred.

My therapist loves to mention the moment in Twilight when Edward saves Bella from a moving vehicle. Bella asks how he did it and he (dryly) replies "I had an adrenaline rush. It's very common. You can Google it." She likes to talk about the phenomenon that happens in real life where mothers have the capability to lift cars off of their children in a moment of emergency. This super human strength is a direct response to crisis or trauma. The amount of energy that is accumulated and used to exert that extraordinary strength is nearly incomprehensible, but it exists. And we, as humans- in the stress based civilization that we live in- experience mini versions of trauma every day.

It could be a confrontation. A near accident. Or even walking out into 110 degree heat when our bodies are unprepared. All of these mini traumas generate energy inside of us. Welling up, accumulating and physically sitting inside our core. 

We are often oblivious to this stockpiling and may or may not address it as needed. When we don't address it in a productive way (exercise, and other safe physical releases... I believe tattooing is included!), our bodies find their own way to expel the energy and this sometimes shows up through self harm. Cutting is one that we talk about often, and is sometimes talked about as a physical solution for a release of energy that we are constantly unaware of. (Note: this is controversial and something not everyone agrees on, which is fair as it's an individual experience and it's impossible to paint every person with the same brush.) Self harm has the potential for some to become a remedy for the pent up physical manifestation of trauma and can manifest in burning, pulling of hair, banging of body parts, scratching, or interference with wound healing. Lord, do I struggle with the last two.

I spent several yeards in such emotional distress that I compulsively scratched at my skin until it scarred; both on my legs and my ass. My boyfriend at the time would chastise me; complaining that I was ruining my skin, but I literally couldn't stop. I wouldn't realize that I was doing it until I would bleed and even then it was still comforting. It was a habit that I struggled to break.

I find myself occasionally still engaging in this behavior, though it's not nearly as often. But the scars will forever remain, and when I went over to photographer (and life long love) Jade Beall's studio for a get together with friends, she offered the opportunity for all us to strip and highlight one specific body part. Our ass.

Of course.

But, I know as well as you that facing our body fears head on is one of the most powerful experiences we can have. I was surrounded by wonderful women, in Jade's warm presence and determined to represent those of us who rock scarred asses. So strip I did.

I didn't allow myself to think much while posing; I focused on wrapping my arms around the beautiful souls I was next to. In a blink of the eye it was over, but through that momentary shoot I ended years of shameful concealment. The entire world would soon see the marks and because of this there was no longer a need to keep them under wraps. I no longer needed to hide them, even from myself.

It's strange how something so basic can heal something so historically complicated.

So that Saturday I stopped giving a shit about my "imperfect" ass. It's blemished because of the stressful world we were all born into; nothing more, nothing less. It was my Achilles' heel for so long, but no longer. I've been slowly crossing off parts of my body that I'm ashamed of, one by one. And thanks to Jade, I've nixed another.

So, that's cool.

We all have our stories and secrets. We all have our insecurities and perceived flaws. Don't ever feel alone or guilty for being one of the many. But also know that our bodies are gorgeously unique, and the fact that not one is exactly alike (diversity is a thing!) is the most magnificent part of all. Uniformity is what they teach us, but that doesn't exist. Allow your body to be what it is, how it is. Allow yourself to not "fit in". Allow it to have wrinkles, scars, cellulite, freckles, dimples, discoloration, and bumps. Allow it to exist and serve you so that you can live your life to the fullest; this is it's greatest purpose.

I can love my body, scars and all, because it allows me to type this. Because it allows me to speak out. Because it allows me to dance to my heart's content. Because it allows me to stand in a classroom and teach. Because it allows me to love on my cats and kiss the top of their heads. Because it allows me to orgasm multiple times in a row. Because it lets me hug my Mom for as long as I need.

Because it holds the beauty on the inside, and also radiates beauty on the outside.
Because every mark tells a story.
Because every story is me.

What body part do you personally struggle with more than others? What body part needs a little extra acceptance and love? What part of your body will you allow to just be?


This is an older post that I feel is especially relevant for me right now as I struggle to accept another part of me as my body changes. I'm grateful for the chance to re-share it for those of you who might be new readers. Welcome and hugs!

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