I donned a T-shirt that said it all as I dragged myself out of my warm, cozy bed and into the gym one recent Monday morning. In big, bold letters it read “THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!” Oh, yeah. Believe me when I tell you, I am one of the LEAST physical people I know and at every turn I will avoid exertion of any kind. Yet, there came a time when my body began to retaliate against this kind of neglect and I could no longer avoid the reality of what my body was saying: “I’m tired, I’m heavy, I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I HURT!”
We have nothing short of a spiritual crisis in womanhood.
I know that I am not the only woman who carries this kind of reality within her body. We struggle with negative self talk and lack of respect for our own bodies. The cultural pressures that impact women’s relationship with her physical self abound. We are inundated with images that exploit, distort, and dismantle the vital and natural life-giving connection that woman was created to have with her own body. As a result, many women are out of touch with the magnificent way their bodies function, and are unaware of how they have been influenced negatively and have absorbed internal messages that lead to body shaming, body image distortion, eating disorders, and so on. Instead of seeking a deep, abiding spiritual self-possession and acceptance of our embodied selves, we focus on the impact of cultural expectations that define external beauty, leading women to live out the very painful statistic that 91% of women dislike their bodies.
When we consider the overwhelming numbers of women who are literally “not at home” in their own bodies, and do not like what they see in their mirrors each day, we have nothing short of a spiritual crisis in womanhood. It is spiritual because, we know that we cannot separate our bodies from ourselves. As John Paul II teaches us in his Theology of the Body, the dignity of the body is the outward expression of the Divine Presence within us. He says:
“ Man whom God created male and female, bears the divine image
imprinted on his body ‘from the beginning.’ Man and woman constitute
two different ways the human ‘being a body’ in the unity of that image.”
When we reject our bodies, we do violence to our souls. And in this ‘fullness of time’ we women need to make peace with and in our own bodies.
When we reject our bodies, we do violence to our souls.
Through this forum, I will be exploring how we can do just that, drawing from the deep well of wisdom and truth that flows from our Catholic faith, Theology of the Body, Personalism and Catholic feminism. This is a journey of healing for us all. The struggle is real, but it is worth it because WE are worth it!
“The Human Body includes right from the beginning…
“the capacity of expressing love, that love in which
the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift –
fulfills the meaning of meaning of his being and existence.’ “
If you were to stop and listen to YOUR body, what would it tell you?
Anne Costa is a FemCatholic Contributor. She is a proud Momma, Nana and wife to Michael and is the author of six books to offer hope and healing for Catholics. Her spiritual BFF is Edith Stein and she splits her time between working as a non-profit administrator, Communications Officer for the Sacred Heart Apostolate and member of the John Paul II Center for Women core team.