a work in progress ll nina shares
I remember walking down the hall of my elementary school and hearing, “are you a boy or a girl?” from a kid sitting in the hallway (in detention).
I remember being a competitive swimmer in junior high and, after a swim meet, my gym teacher asking why I couldn’t manage to run a mile.
I remember a classmate yelling at me to “walk back to Hawaii” everyday in Algebra until I walked out of class.
I remember a friend’s boyfriend in high school making fun of Tegan and Sara for being lesbians and just laughing along to not make it weird.
I remember being captain of the swim team senior year of high school and yet still hating my body for not being a “swimmer’s body.”
I remember hearing the word “genderqueer” for the first time and scoffing because what could that really even mean.
I remember telling myself I needed to learn to run to lose weight.
I remember when the greeting, “Hey ladies!” started to sting.
I’ll be blunt: literally all of that sucked. Not being skinny, not being an easily distinguishable race, not being a clear gender — all of that has made it a challenge to feel in control over my own body, or that my body was worthy, for most of my life. I won’t say that that changed overnight, either. It’s been a slow and steady process. And acknowledging what hurt has allowed me to reclaim agency over my body, and finally begin to love it. And so I’m growing.
I’m finding my gender identity (for now! gender is fluid!) as non-binary.
I’m actively learning about others’ experiences and building up my capacity for empathy.
I’m determining how to distance myself from relationships that no longer serve me.
I’m running because I like spending time outside and how it makes me feel.
I’m practicing yoga because of a teacher who made space for queer people to feel safely challenged, adjusted for, capable, and cared for.
I’m surrounding myself with people who cheerlead each other.
I’m leaning into my queer identity and my queer community.
I’m finding instructors and practices like Bethany and the be.come project who have transformed “fitness” from something exclusive and body-negative into a somewhere where someone like me can practice movement that not only inclusive and positive but FUN.
I’m growing to love my body for what it is, and what it can do.
It feels cheesy to say it but I’ll say it: I’m a work in progress, and I’m learning to be cool with that. I’ve still got a lot more growing to do. A lot more space to create for myself and others. A lot more methods for unlearning a history of body-negativity. And truthfully, why I’m so excited to share this musing here is because doing anything in a body that has been deemed unfit for whatever reason is hard. But if you’re reading this, then maybe you’re already doing it, or thinking about doing it. And whatever “it” is, I hope you’re learning and trusting in that.
To you reading this, and especially to my fellow non-binary, non-white, and/or non-“normative”-body folks out there: you keep doin’ you and learning and growing, because you are a gift the world should be so lucky to have.
PS: I recently started an Instagram called @themshealth which is a community-build resource for non-binary wellness information. It will be working to cover wellness topics such as bodily health, mental health, nutrition, sexuality, identity, and fitness (we take a lot of inspiration from be.come!). If you identify as non-binary or would simply like to learn more as an active ally, we would love to have you follow along <3
Cover image by @lamboflemila, in collaboration with @variousroots. You can find more of their work here.