Photo: emmerogers on Flickr

Last night I ran Vancouver’s Underwear Affair 10km, raising money for cancers below the belt. The event was awesome. The course was so beautiful – from the Seaforth Armouries at 1st & Burrard along the entire False Creek seawall and back over the Burrard Street Bridge. Not surprisingly, this run is very much a spectator sport; hundreds of people racing in their underwear has a tendency to bring out the people-watchers in droves.

What I loved about the race was that there were bodies of all shapes and sizes donning their skivvies for a cause and, quite frankly, I was surprised and impressed with the level of confidence many of the runners seemed to display. I did not run in my underwear… mostly because I was running this event by myself and thought it would be weird without a team of buddies. But if I were to get a little group of friends together, I wouldn’t necessarily be averse to doing it in future.

Most of my life I’ve struggled with body image issues.

I’ve been fat; I’ve been thin; I’ve been in-between. I’ve had big boobs and small boobs. I’ve worn flattering clothing and not-so-flattering clothing; I’ve worn fully-covering wrap things on the beach and I’ve donned a bikini. I’ve made poor food choices; I’ve suffered from disordered behaviour including binge eating and over-exercising and I’ve smoked cigarettes to help me control my weight.

Even now I often think about having a few things fixed: The lines in my face seem to be developing at an astonishing rate, my mangled two-c-section tummy is a bit of an eyesore and the girls are not what they used to be; but beauty is more than the physical. Besides, what is the ideal anyway? God made all of humanity to have the same components in such varying shapes, sizes and colours that, aside from biological anomalies like identical multiples, there are billions of unique designs. Which one exactly am I supposed to be modeling myself after?

In the last couple of months I’ve developed an appreciation for the skin I’m in. Life is too short to worry about how well we stack up physically against those around us…  besides, it’s not a contest.

When I think of how critical I’ve been of my body over the years I cringe when I think of just how normal I was and yet how awkward and destroyed I felt on the inside. And now with my beautiful imperfections I can at least appreciate that this body has grown two babies, run hundreds of kilometers, earned a black belt, jumped out of airplanes, and will spend (hopefully) the next 50 years or so serving my children, my family and friends and enjoying this beautiful life I’ve been given.

My friends, it’s time to start loving the bodies we’ve been given. Whether you’re tall, short, skinny, fat, freckled, hairy, balding, jiggly, muscular, dainty, scarred, lanky, apple or pear shaped… if you’ve got wrinkles, varicose veins, saggy boobs, man-boobs, a flat bum, a round bum, thick ankles, big ears, hair in the wrong places or nasty toenails, enjoy that you are alive for a purpose and that beautiful body of yours is the only one you’ve got.

… and I think it’s perfect, just the way it is. So does your mom.