My Scars
It may seem strange to say that what I love most about my body are my scars. I am a cancer survivor and have been through numerous complex surgeries. I earned these scars and wear them proudly ... much like badges of honor. I know that my many scars are a testament to the fact that what tried to hurt me didn't win. By G-d's grace and the prayers and support of many, I came out the victor in some of the worst battles of my life. Every day, my scars remind me of where I've been and, most importantly, to realize how very blessed I am and the grace that I've been given. Because of these scars, I am truly grateful for every new day and that today, I was on the wake-up list.
Denise Redgate, Minneapolis

Miles to go
I love what my body can do, physically. I love that, at the age of 57, I can run a mile in under ten minutes, and that I can comfortably do 5K races, 10Ks if I train. I love that my body bends well, and that I have the flexibility and stamina for vigorous yoga classes, and playing on the floor with my one-year-old grandson! I love that I can bike 50 miles or more and enjoy the ride.
Lisa Burke, St. Paul

Step by step
The one thing I love about my body is my pair of legs. I used them to walk away from an abusive situation where I was mistreated and had no power, to a place where I grew and overcame and turned into more of the person I was meant to be. I walked into a job where I was able to earn my own money, thereby earning my own power. I used them to walk into a driver's training school, where I learned to drive and got a driver's license. I used them in the daily process of raising my four kids. I used them to walk into St. Catherine University to study and earn my bachelor's degree in communications.

Life is a process. I learned step by step, and learned to succeed one step at a time.
Arlene Koktavy, Lonsdale

PSA: I'm not pregnant - my stomach sticks out
This is my body. I have survived anorexia and now ... your question.

A few years ago I was asked if I was pregnant when I wasn't. I cried. I am open about my recovery from eating disorders. [Sometimes] recovery can come with bad days.

In recent weeks I've been asked several times if I'm pregnant, by a variety of people who mean well (all of whom apologized profusely). The reality is that my stomach protrudes.

It's not practical to walk around sucking in all the time. I'm not particularly interested in giving up my cute, form-fitting clothes. Most important, I don't want to go on a diet. For me, the words "diet" and "death" are too close for comfort. And so, I've had to learn how to deal with people thinking I'm pregnant without turning knives into myself.

This is my body. It takes up space in ways that some people do not readily understand.

Loving yourself is a radical act. You can hate oppressive systems and the self-doubt and presumed right-to-question that comes with them. You can forgive the people who push the buttons that are supposed to hurt you (refusing to forgive can be righteous, too). I am choosing to forgive others and myself, while working to change the culture. I am finding transcendence.

The best gift I can give to myself, my activism and the people who love me is to move on. The radical gift I have for all of us is to share this information without shame.
Erin Matson, Arlington, VA

Accepting my chin
As I've gotten older, I've realized that there aren't many things I can change about my physical appearance. I've always seen myself as unattractive for certain features and subconsciously tried to hide them. My main struggle was the chin that stuck straight out of my face.

I've come to terms with my "bad" physical traits by seeing them in beautiful people on the streets - because if that woman can look stunning with her chin the size of the Eiffel tower then so can I.

I've gained a mutual respect with my body. I can't change some things, but if I take care of her and work towards physical goals that are actually achievable, then she will return the favor. This mutual understanding is my favorite part about her. I can accept her "witch chin" and work around that to make myself feel beautiful, while she uses the food I give her to keep us alive.

This is the skin I've been given, so we need an understanding between us, and I've found one.
Shiva Antoinette, Shakopee

Healthy hinges
I'll be an octogenarian in July. I'm stunned by the unfamiliar appearance of my upper arms, chin and hands. There's nothing fun in aging, but what I love about my body is that my joints still turn.

I owe a great deal to good genes and a daily devotion to yoga, for I can bend, walk, sprint, hike, lift and carry. I have a deep appreciation for my healthy hinges, while some of my beloved friends have endured stiffness and pain. I admire them, for they've taken positive, proactive measures all the way through rehab to have pain-free use of new hips or knees. One close friend has had both shoulders made new.

During certain seasons in my life, I've known the "long streak of that bad luck" that Paul Simon sings about, but I know how lucky I am in reaching 80 with limbs and digits still bendable and useful.
Joanne Bergman, St. Paul

Let me count the ways
I hope you are inundated with women extolling the wonders of their bodies! How do I pick one thing? Do I choose my legs that allow me to bike-commute to work? The stripe of grey hair I've had since my childhood, something so natural and unique to me? The constellation of subtle birthmarks on my thigh? The small breasts I hated as a young woman, but love now that I see how they allow me to run and be active comfortably? The crooked kink in my pinky knuckles just like my Grandpa's?
Jean Abbott, Lakeville