“To Write Love on Her Arms” is a beautiful movement. Beautiful and so desperately needed. It’s beauty is made more intense by the truth that all of us struggle with body image, self-esteem, and confidence at some point. Some of us, most of us, will revisit the same dark thoughts and memories repeatedly through our lives.
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
This letter was on their blog last week, and it gave me chills.
I’ve always let some imperfection or another stand in the way of me seeing what you truly are, that you are beautiful. You are a divine creation housing the most valuable thing known to the universe, my soul. I’m beginning to realize that a person’s soul has the capacity to radiate light that transcends all the characteristics that I have been conditioned to believe are flaws.
You naturally tell a story. Your blue-green veins are like a map to where your heart has been and where it is going. The curve of your waist and the shape of your cheekbones tell a tale of heritage and ethnicity. There are crayon markings on the wall somewhere that has measured your height throughout the years. Always returning to the same spot to see how you’ve changed.
Your eyes bare resemblance to nature. They are a deep forest green with golden yellow sunflower flecks. Your faded birthmark, once beet red, brought me shame because all I wanted was to conform. It now reminds me of how unique you are and all I want is to be different.
Your body begins as a story but continues with new chapters throughout your life. Some are chapters of sadness and pain, others of joy, and all of growth. Each chapter a blank canvas meant to be painted by our experiences. Photos are memories but so are our bodies in a way that’s more real, no posing and no fakeness.
I’m realizing these things now, but I’m so sorry that I didn’t realize them before. I’ve done everything I could to destroy the canvas and deface and burn the pages of different chapters.
I’ve waged war on you before; used razor blades to feel and drugs to numb. I’ve used caffeine to stay awake and alcohol to sleep. Abusing the side effects of my prescription drugs like loss of appetite, to deliberately starve myself into making you skinnier. I’ve spent far too much time on a scale that merely weighs your effect on gravity, not the depth of your beauty. I wanted you to look like one of those girls in the magazines.
But in the ruins there is still a canvas. There is still beauty in your brokenness. The faded scars show healing reminding me that even though I’ve been in dark places, I’ve survived and learned and become stronger.
Although the war is over, the world still takes its toll. You have calluses on your hands from me writing too much and concentrating too hard. Yet the words are beautiful and the studying is worth it. You have the ache when it rains from broken bones, and stretch marks from growing too fast. You have burns from jobs and scars from falls. But those experiences were worth it.
Dear body, as I grow older I worry about how you will age. Together we gain wisdom and wrinkles, after being young and beautiful and naïve. The wisdom tells us that the beauty doesn’t subside, it only changes, and more of it comes from within. So I won’t worry when my hair doesn’t look just right, or when I do something stupidly funny and emerge with another scar because you are telling a story. And what would I be without my story and my past?