yes to My Body

ENTER SHONDALAND

© Aaron Tredwell

This is probably one of the hardest things to say yes to—accepting who you are. This month we talk to Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness. See what she has to say about this month’s YES: Yes to My Body.

Why do you think this is so difficult?

A: Coming to a place of acceptance with one’s self is difficult in a culture that has built systems that tell us daily that not only do we not measure up to some ideal of perfection and normativity but that we should not exist, should hide and shrink ourselves if we fail to measure up. The consistent commentary about how we are not measuring up and fitting in can lead one further and further away from a path of acceptance and contentment with self and closer to a dark place of struggle.

Growing up as a little curly-haired, brown-skinned trans girl, I never saw images or heard stories of girls like myself thriving in the world, no less merely existing. Those lack of mirrors made me feel as if I was the only girl like me in the entire world. It was incredibly isolating. To add another layer to my isolation and pain, I was consistently told by many people around me—through a furrowed brow, the shake of a head, or even severe language—that the way I presented myself, the way I adorned my body, the way I existed was wrong and incorrect and needed to be fixed.

This was disorienting, and it’s the kind of commentary we all struggle with daily as we aim to find some sense of contentment with ourselves in our own skin.

How has saying yes to your body helped you in your life?

A: I knew from a young age that my life, my body and my experiences were mine. That sense of ownership allowed me as a teenager to say no to the lies people told me, the lies that only further gave me angst and pain. Saying no to those lies and yes to my truth allowed me to live authentically, to find wholeness in my body and to eventually break away from incredibly hostile environments and plot my own path where I could dare to live out dreams, find my people and speak truth to power as an author and journalist.

Without shutting out those voices that were seeking to negate me, I would not have been able to say yes to myself and yes to my dreams. It’s vital that we turn down the volume of those negating voices that rebut us and turn up the frequency of the truths that we are often afraid to recognize.

What has been a major accomplishment by saying yes to your body?

A: Speaking and sharing my truth. As a young person, I was busily seeking mirrors that did not exist, mirrors that I felt would offer me a blueprint to happiness, contentment and peace. And when I could not find those mirrors, I still believed that I deserved to be seen, deserved to be heard and deserved to exist. Saying yes allowed me to live my truth, share it through writing and my work as a journalist on television and become one of those mirrors I didn't have access to growing up. That has been incredibly fulfilling.

What will you say yes to this year?

A: I will continue to say yes to telling the truth—no matter how afraid or intimidated by consequence or injury I am. I will say yes to community and collaboration and creativity. I will say yes to adventure and exploration and seeking truth in the lives and experiences of others. Most important, I will say yes to myself and yes to love. Self-love is key.

To learn more about Janet's memoir, Redefining Realness, visit RedefiningRealness.com.

Join in and celebrate you—
by saying YES!