Standing naked in the mirror, in the name of research, is harder than I expected. I'm supposed to find something about my body that I LOVE and explain why. Surely, I can find one thing. Staring at myself, I take note of the double muffin top, back fat and boobs saggy enough to trip over. And the stretch marks on my stomach look like a road map to Hell. Seriously, how am I supposed to love a body that I don't even like?

At fortysomething, my body has seen better days. The short shorts and crop tops have long come and gone. These days, it's Bermuda shorts and girdles. My body has really changed over the years but it has a story to tell. It's been cut open and stitched back together. Bones broken and healed. It has given life and been given second chances.

My arms aren't as alluring as they once were. For years, they carried book bags and diaper bags. They've endured binding bra straps and cradled heavy sleeping children. My arms actually deserve a little credit though. They are pretty talented. They let me paint and work and love.

My belly hardly resembles its former self. It still bares those wretched C-section scars from years past. (I'm definitely blaming the kids for this mess.) Each stretch mark represents the lengths to which my body was pushed. But, it's pretty remarkable when you think about it. This belly manufactured and housed two loves of my life, an honor no other belly can claim. Bonus: I can just keep telling myself the fat rolls are just like brown bubble wrap protecting its valuables. That's still a work in progress.

And did I mention my National Geographic boobs? Although they aren't still saluting sailors, with just a little duct tape and a cross beam, they can still turn a head or two. They literally fed two human beings for months. ... How awesome is that?

As difficult as it is to gaze at my naked body, I'm actually impressed. I am in awe of its resiliency. It's capable of so much that I never thought to give it credit for. I mean, even a weathered old tank is still a force with which to be reckoned. That, at least, deserves my respect. And that's a start.

So here's my pledge: I will be as kind and loving to my body as I am to other people. I'm hoping that through honoring its accomplishments I can grow to, some day, love my body ... all of it.

Abigail Dillon lives in Woodbury and is an artist.

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