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The Poetry of Our Bodies

Inspired by a project I had in my digital humanities class this past semester, I created this word cloud from your entries here. For this particular cloud, I pulled the top 10 posts under the category of “Positive Body Image/Words of Encouragement” and fed them (anonymously, of course!) into the processor at Voyant. It gave me this cloud.

I love words, I love word clouds, and I love to immerse myself in them and look at them closely. They are a kind of found poetry, and I love to use them to create more found poetry. For instance, right off the bat, I see:

stretch like I’m body beautiful

And then:

pregnant love just marks

But I think my favorite is:

advocate changes big

By shifting these words around, we find new meaning in them. New ideas that already exist subconsciously in our hearts – or that we can choose to weave into the fabric of our future thoughts.

It is also important to examine the size of the word “body” in terms of the rest. It appears more often than any other word. Of course, this is a website dealing with bodies, so it’s expected to loom over all of our posts, but that doesn’t make it any less significant to see it displayed this way for us. Sometimes to see something from a new angle gives us a refreshed view of it. This is a reminder how much our physical appearance is of importance to us. Perhaps it is time to focus on the other words that help to make up our whole selves?


Voyant does more than word clouds, though, and this particular tool was interesting as well. It really showed what people were saying about their bodies. The first thing that strikes me here is how much work went into body image in these posts. “Found love for the mommy body” or “Learned to love” or accept my body”. This is not a passive act, it is hard work, daily. The second thing that strikes me is that some of these top “bodyposi” posts are minimizing themselves.. “Love everything about my body even though..” We have to temper anything good we say or feel about ourselves – and that is why the work is hard. Not only do we have to relearn how to view ourselves outside of the negativity society imposes upon us, but we also have to do it so carefully that we do not become ostracized by society. It seems – and in fact it is! – contradictory. The line to walk here is very thin and often unclear. A woman who is too down on her body is “negative” or “focused on the wrong things” but a woman who is unapologetic about her looks is “conceited” or “full of herself.” There is no real good option which is why women trying so hard to find how to love themselves tend to pair their intentions (“I love my body”) with a caveat of some sort (“even though…”). I know I often do this, even within feminist circles, even to my closest friends who truly know my soul, when I am talking about my abilities. “I know it sounds stuck up to just say it like this, but you know I’m trying to drop those patriarchal rules so….”

The goal is that someday, we won’t feel the need to minimize our beauty and our talents and our gifts. That is the work we are doing here at SOAM.

How do you do this work in your life? Do you feel this struggle? How do you manage it? How can you work this year to grow from this? What does “growth” mean to you in this area?

Categories: My Own Ramblings, News, Poetry, Positive Body Image/Words of Enouragement

Happy New Year!


Hello my readers, guess what? I GRADUATED! I went back to school five years ago and after much hard work and many struggles, I have completed my bachelor degree in English with a minor in Women’s Studies (although I won’t don my cap and gown and walk until next May). I will have more to say on that later, I’m sure. It’s been a life-shifting experience and I am not the same person as I was five years ago. I’m older and tireder (ha!) but I am also more aware, more confident, more capable.

I am hoping to bring my new knowledge to SOAM to transform it into something bigger and better than it has ever been. Projects I am currently working on include:
*Monthly live chats with my friend Angie of MidDrift (and hopefully with guests as well!)
*In person events in Southern California and eventually elsewhere
*Classes and seminars on body image and self-esteem
*Zines with educational literature as well as art and poetry
*A book!
*and more!

Is there anything in particular you would like to see from SOAM? Let us know in the comments below!

I’m getting myself organized for what will be a big year for SOAM and I’ll be back soon with more details and more posts from YOU! If you want to contribute, click here for more info!

Remember: You are beautiful as you are.

Categories: News

Submission (Anonymous)

Age: 26
# of pregnancies: 7 pregnancies, 5 live births.
Kids Ages: 8, 6, 4, 1.5, 4 months

My whole life I have been insecure about my body. I was emotionally abused as a child by one parent and the other parent basically turned the other way and told me to be quiet. This left me feeling unloved for many years. I felt unloved at home, not liked by peers because I had such low self esteem that I was awkward around other people. I wouldn’t look people in the eye, I had no social skills (we lived in the country with no neighbors) so going to school was so awkward and I was super self conscious about my body. I was always a bit chubbier than the rest of my peers, eating became my comfort since I had no one to really talk to and befriend. In high school I went about and thought having sex with a guy would get them to love me WRONG so wrong. I had many sexual encounters and never a serious relationship (partially my fault due to fear of intimacy) I so badly wanted an intimate relationship but wouldn’t open up. At 16 I met my first 5 kids dad. I got pregnant three times at age 17. The first two pregnancies I lost due to miscarriage. The third pregnancy I carried until I delivered my beautiful baby girl. I got pregnant again at 19 had my second daughter and again at 21 and had my first son. Needless to say their father like myself was immature and not ready for a real relationship or kids. He cheated many times, couldn’t hold a job and basically told me how lucky I was that he stuck around cause no one else would want me. He told his friends in front of me that I needed a boob job, tummy tuck, and butt implants many times….I was humiliated like that at least three times that I remember. Eventually I broke it off in 2016 at the age of 24 going on 25. An old high school crush contacted me shortly after and we began speaking.

We began dating in April 2016 and I found out I was pregnant in May. He asked me to marry him and I agreed. Once again I lacked judgement and before I knew it I was in a physically abusive and verbally abusive marriage. I had our son in January 2017. In August 2017 he confessed to cheating on me many times. I was and still am heartbroken. In September I found out I was pregnant yet again. I tried to make things work, talk about why what was lacking what I wasn’t providing but he refused and continued seeing one of his side chicks. I filed for divorce and we got divorced January 2018. I had our second son in May 2018. Although we have remained together on and off until presently. He has shown signs of maturing in some areas and takes anger management while I go to counseling. He promises he will never cheat again but I don’t believe it…just kind of waiting and trying my hardest so if he does again I will be able to walk away with my head held high knowing I tried and gave it my all. Anyways I thought my body was bad back in high school lol nah it’s so different now. I must have horrible genetics because I have stretch marks all over my tummy, my thighs, butt, arms. My tummy also has a horrible flap of fat and loose skin. The other night my ex was going through pictures I had sent him because he asked and stopped one and commented how it was not flattering because of “that”. He couldn’t even say my tummy but I knew what he meant. Anyways he is right it isn’t a pretty sight and I pray that if him and I don’t work someday I may find a man who can get past it. In the mean time I have 19 pounds to drop till I am at my goal weight and will try to bring my body fat percentage down and gain some lean muscle by eating correctly and working out. Wish me luck, I have come to some sort of terms with my body and I love my kids so I would do it all over again. Ps sorry that my photos are nude from the waist down I just used the pics I had sent my ex. I believe I was/am about 4 months postpartum in them. Sorry about the nudity.

Categories: Belly, Child Loss, Four or More Pregnancies, Postpartum, Submissions