17 May

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When I told you I thought you were handsome, you misunderstood. 

You thought it was because of your eyes that blend the sky above with the grass below, distilling the expanse of nature into your gaze. 

You thought it was because of your muscles that push through your skin – visible and tangible symbols of strength and vitality. 

You thought it was because of your golden hair that catches the sun, glistening like the dew on a summer morning. 

And I do delight in all of those things. 

But they are not why I find you so handsome, my darling. 

The real reason has always been the light within you that shines through the darkness of this cold and lonely world, warming and illuminating my path through life, a glorious beacon, pointing the way home to love. 

Your physical features have only ever been shadows of that inner light; gorgeous shadows, but shadows, nonetheless. 

And that is why I drink in the parts of your body you’ve been taught to apologise for, just as much as the parts for which you were praised. 

For they too are soulprints. They too are signposts to your heart. 

When you told me you thought I was beautiful, I misunderstood. 

I thought it was because my physical profile obeyed the rules and didn’t go over the lines. 

I thought it was because my belly was flat, and my waist was small. 

I thought it was because you overlooked the areas I’d failed to starve into submission or manipulate into acceptability, the rogue elements which always seemed to be trying to make a bid for freedom – the bulges, the blemishes the wrinkles – the shameful marks of life defecting I tried to conceal. 

I thought I had to eat like a child and take up as little space as possible. 

I thought I needed to curate my body for your delectation. 

But I was wrong about all that. 

You didn’t actually want a stultified, miniature doll, nor a trophy to display in a glass cabinet. You wanted a life-sized companion, a confidante, an animate, sensuous mystery. You wanted a wild woman, for any other kind would have been an insult to life itself. 

You think I am beautiful, not because of all the ways my body ticks all the tedious boxes, but because my presence reminds you of everything that matters: softness, passion, loyalty, resolve, resilience, and inexhaustible love. 

My physical form signals a place to rest, to be heard, understood, soothed, appreciated, and adored. A sacred refuge for comfort and pleasure. 

I hope this clears up our misunderstandings: beauty reveals itself wherever love finds its way through. It cares nothing for inhumane metrics. 

And this explains why, even though the contours and textures of our shape-shifting shadows change over time, the beauty we behold will never fade.

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