I have, steadfastly throughout my life, hated my legs: irrationally and vehemently I have hated my thighs, which in middle school were decided too large, I have hated my calves which were decidedly not the right shape, have hated my ankles, my feet, my toenails, my entire lower half. I hated how short my legs are, how much they reminded me of tree trunks, not spindly, delicate, flower stems. I decided that I would have to live my life as a girl who was rooted to the ground by two elm trees instead of ivy vines. The hate I had for my legs was almost doubled when it came to the hate for my arms, which were the thick branches to my tree trunk legs. I hated my eyes which were too small, when compared to the other girls I saw, with big doe eyes. My cheeks were to big, with hollows on either side of my faced, where the bone was too high. Where puddles could form.
I spent so much time hating my body that it began to affect me, the person inside myself. I learned that when you are consumed with a lack of love for yourself, you leave your borders open to infiltration, that any love feels like the love you deserve.
This summer, when I was living with my kokum and my mum, I began to see the similarities in their bodies that exist within mine. I realized that we all have the same colour of blue eyes, same short thick legs, arms, big cheeks, and small eyes. I realized that I have small hands like my kokum, with fingers that can weave and create. I thought to myself, that maybe our legs are thick because our ancestors had to be strong and close to the land, because our ancestors spent so much time on hunts or constantly on the move with the changing of the seasons. That maybe, just maybe, our ancestors needed legs like tree trunks to guide them through the land. I remembered that our arms fought rebellions and carried our babies while we worked. I remembered that our eyes are always small and crinkled because we know joy and laugh whenever the chance arrives. I realized that my hair is the perfect mixture of my father’s red and my mother’s brown, that I have the same nose as my grandma Nock, the same wit as my grandpa Nock, and the same poetry runs through me that runs through my father.
I have come to realize that my body is something I need to love, because within my body my ancestors live. Within my veins the same blood that ran through theirs runs in mine; that within the space between my cheek and my jaw, are stories older than time. I have to remember that within every nook of my body, within every cell that creates who I am, my ancestors are there. The ones that are of this land, the Cree mothers that gave us life, are within me; the English ancestors, the French ancestors, they’re all there and their histories create me. Physically, the histories they lived have given me this body and to honour them I must respect and love myself. The relationship you have with yourself is not easy, somedays I wonder what I would be like if I had two Native parents or two white parents – what I would look like, what my life would have been like. I know that there is a long path to travel, between where I am now and where I am supposed to go, but this journey is made easier by the strength that exists with inside myself: body and spirit.