“I’m used to my body doing what I want it to do, without pain. I take that for granted so much.”

I’m Hannah, one of the creators of Project Naked (that sounds kind of grand, but I can’t think of a better word!) I’m so happy to see how many new followers the blog is getting recently, and hope to hear stories from some of you! Here’s some stuff I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of days.

I’m currently away on a three-month trip across the US and Canada, and I’ve been reflecting the past few days on what my body means to me.

I’m in Vancouver right now, the tenth stop on my travels. The morning I was leaving Seattle to come here, I tripped running for the bus and totally decked myself, two rucksacks and all, and bashed up one of my knees. Thankfully I think the rucksack on my front stopped me hitting my face and breaking my nose, because fuck going to a hospital in America. I limped onto the bus and managed to make it to my train on time, despite having to take a couple of breaks when I felt faint from the shock of the fall and the pain in my swollen knee.

Then I made it to Vancouver and tripped again, only slightly this time but I hit the kerb and took the skin off my other knee. While I sat snivelling at a bus stop, mopping the blood up with baby wipes, a man stopped and gave me a hug, which was nice and exactly what I needed right then.

The past few days hobbling around on my bashed up knees has made me appreciate my normally strong body and realise how I take it for granted.

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I’m used to my body doing what I want it to do, without pain. I take that for granted so much. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve walked extensively at my usual quick pace, and my strong, dumpy wee legs take me wherever I want to go. If I want to walk 15 miles taking a convoluted route from the Upper East Side in Manhattan to Park Slope in Brooklyn, I can and I did. I can sit, crouch, squat and lounge on whatever surface I like when I’m tired.

And now for the last few days I’ve been limping around in mild pain with every step, lowering myself into and out of chairs like I’m 8 months pregnant and having to keep an eye on how I’m sitting so I don’t crack open my scabby knee suddenly or hit it on things.

I’m not complaining. This is a minor and temporary impairment and I feel it getting better every day, although I’m still hobbling up stairs slowly and getting frustrated by how much more slowly I’m walking. But it reminds me how I just assume my body will do things for me. I take it for granted that every day I can get out of bed without pain, walk without pain, sit however I like. I don’t appreciate it at all.

Another thing my injured knees have done is make me less self-conscious about my hairy legs. Even though I haven’t shaved them in over two years, I’m still not crazy about getting them out for the general public. People stare at them and nudge each other – not constantly, but enough that I notice and feel uncomfortable sometimes. And inflamed with feminist rage which just casts a downer on my day because WHY DO THEY CARE? And I’m not being paranoid and just assuming people are noticing. They definitely are. My hair is thick and dark, more obvious than on many guys’ legs, and while I understand that it’s unusual to see on a woman I wish that people wouldn’t stare.

But for the first few days my knee was too raw not to go bare-legged. So I had to get my shorts out and limp around in them. And then when I saw people staring at my legs I just assumed they were staring at my banged-up knees wondering what happened (which is still not polite, folks). I didn’t care if people stared at my legs because it was just more comfortable to have them out.

Trying to feel fully comfortable with my body is something I still have to do. I generally do like my body a lot. I think it looks nice, despite its “imperfections” as far as the media is concerned. I hardly ever obsess over it, and when I find myself thinking bad thoughts about it I push them away, because they are always bullshit. And I’m learning to appreciate its strength and power more.

My body carries me through life and helps me do amazing things. In just the past two months, it’s taken me white water rafting, walked around almost a dozen cities, climbed 500 stairs from a Vancouver beach (with two sore knees), swum in a Vermont lake and in the Pacific Ocean, and eaten more mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups than is really advisable. My body can let me see the whole world.

– Hannah, 26

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7 thoughts on ““I’m used to my body doing what I want it to do, without pain. I take that for granted so much.”

    1. Thanks! It’s supposed to be sunny again tomorrow I think (I hope!) It’s a beautiful city anyway though.

  1. As a woman who doesn’t shave my legs either… It has been my experience after bathing and putting lotion on them, that it makes a softer feeling breeze when moving because of the little hairs, and this is really a nice sensation. Plus… I like hairy legs on men, why should I not enjoy them on myself in a similar way? I’m not trying to be overly personal with this… but being that this is “project naked” I figured I’d risk the “exposure”…
    In loving your body image… I would omit the word “dumpy” from your future vocabulary when referring to your legs. They aren’t just carrying you. They are pretty. Tell them they look good in red skirts! So what if they are fuzzy? All women should be so lucky. Your writing was very good however… so I’m not saying censor or edit it at all.
    In terms of people staring… you’re just totally right… some people are rude.

    1. I didn’t mean the word dumpy in a hateful way, more as an affectionate assessment of my legs, which are not long or slender but are nonetheless strong and useful. I don’t much mind that they’re not “pretty”, because their bruises and scars remind me how my body heals and keeps going 🙂

  2. It’s funny to think about it. I haven’t for years, but when I broke my hand I couldn’t shave the opposite armpit and when nothing horrible happened in terms of body odour, I realised I had been doing something for years that was entirely unnecessary. Damn you, social pressure!

  3. Thanks for this!

    I have to admit the not shaving and wearing a skirt spurred me to reply but I can also sympathise with your comments about expecting your body to always work and it not.

    I got whiplash about three months ago and am still suffering. For the first week I was in constant pain, couldn’t turn my head, and hated anything that wasn’t lying down with it supported. Poor Wii Fit got neglected for a couple of months as I was drugged up and tired all the time. It also affected my arms and wrists too and for a couple of weeks I couldn’t even lift a kettle and at times even a cup. I hated it. But thankfully I’m okay now; my neck is stiff still and I have to do a series of exercises each morning, to the sound of it clicking, to keep it loose, but to say, it sure did make me appreciate just how much I took it and my general health for granted.

    On the subject of shaving, I’ll admit the hair growth can get slightly rugged but I would be bear-like if I left it for any length of time, even though I’m quite fair skinned and fair haired, and I unequivocally couldn’t go out wearing a skirt without them being shaved, waxed, or in rights. Perhaps that says something about me and my confidence or need for conformity, but I just couldn’t imagine it any other way.

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