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An apology to my body

| Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My body was not made for hate or vanity. Body, I have not been treating you right.

Arms, you have never been the favorite part of my body. You can barely do a push-up. You have flab where triceps should be. Left arm, you have broken twice. When you were broken, though, I realized all you help me do. You flow from one ballet position to the next while I cycle through pliés. You pump at 90-degree angles as I power up a hill. You flail as I fall while water skiing. Arms, you are two unappreciated limbs, and I promise not to hate on you unnecessarily. I may even grow to love you. I don’t want you to leave me, after all.

Legs, I cannot deny that you have long been my preferred appendages. The quadriceps, the calves and hamstrings — what’s not to love? Even when I don’t take care of you as I should with daily runs and deep stretches, you remain ready to run, leap and split at a moment’s notice. Though you will be sore that night, you recover within the next day, ready to run to our next adventure. You even try to keep me warm by sprouting hairs. I appreciate this considerate measure, but feel free not to sprout these hairs. I will wear fleece-lined tights to insulate you better.

Feet, I want to apologize for torturing you for many years. In the name of beauty and ballet, I shoved you into pointe shoes and balanced all of my weight on the tips of my toes. No wonder ballerinas want to weigh less. You suffer many a blister and retain your calluses so that I can turn barefoot on wooden floors. When I received a pedicure for my birthday, I could feel you tingle with excitement to have your old cells exfoliated off. I am sorry that I could not allow you to be scrubbed, because it would remove the calluses I need. I promise: It would have hurt more to reform those calluses the next day.

Hands (and fingers), thanks to you I can write and type. Thanks to you, I can crochet and cook. Thanks to you I can play patty-cake. You are truly irreplaceable … until I catch up to starfish and learn how to regrow you.

Eyes, I am glad you can rest during vacation with many hours spent closed. During the semester, I am constantly demanding that you open, focus and transmit information from paper to my brain. That is not all you do. You hold eye contact with friends at lunch. You show me where the roots are in the path so that I do not trip — most of the time. You have not required glasses or contacts. I reward you with many carrots.

Nose, I am glad you exist. Through inhalation, I bask in the aroma of cinnamon spice steaming up from chai tea. Through sneezing, you generously clear the gunk from your passageways — no janitor needed. Even when you transmit an unpleasant smell, you inform me of important knowledge. This milk is sour; do not drink. This meat is rancid; do not eat. This air is putrid; do not breathe. This substance is a sweet potato. By all means, consume.

But what will help me consume? The tongue, yes, the tongue! Oh tongue, you allow me to sample the tart of arugula, the tang of blackberry and the sweet of watermelon. You explode with the power of pineapple and swim through mashed potato. You have even learned to swallow pills, and it only took you 18 years. I apologize for burning you when I sipped boiling tea. What killed only a few taste buds made you stronger, and you can now sustain water straight from the steaming kettle. You may never allow grapefruit to enter my body, but you will permit me to eat lemons whole. It may have something to do with the previously-murdered taste buds.

Ears, without you, I would miss every 8 a.m. class, for I would dutifully sleep through my alarm. You channel my contemplation of somber Lenten melodies and celebration of joyous Easter song. Without you, I may never get off the couch; I would not be able to wake myself up with a “Hamilton” cabinet battle. You may betray my embarrassment by flushing crimson, but I can overlook that for now. Do not fear: I will never slash you like Van Gogh.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

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