Catherine Hernandez, author of the novel Scarborough, out soon, and mother

"When you finally listen to what your body is saying, it's beautiful. You realize, 'Oh my gosh, I've been fighting you this entire time.'"

Last year I was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses. One is adrenal fatigue, which a lot of people have, especially after surviving trauma.

The other involved having to get off topical steroid use. During the withdrawal process, it basically looked liked my body had been burned, like I had scar tissue all over. And I had to withdraw from a lot of things, like performing and producing. The only thing I could do was write.

So this entire year was devoted to completing my book. Having a disability allowed me the stillness and silence. 

I gave myself that time to feel like this is my dialogue with my body right now. My body says, “Stop.” My body says, “I need help.” My body says, “It’s time to create.”

Because when you finally listen to what your body is saying, it’s beautiful. You realize, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been fighting you this entire time.”

During the height of my sickness, I would write love letters to my body and post them up. Like, “Dear Body. My beautiful Body. I am so sorry that I starved you. I’m so sorry that I made you work when you didn’t want to work. I’m sorry that I pushed you hard when I shouldn’t have. I should have just listened to you. And I’m listening to you now.” 

I would post them inside my washroom cupboard and look at them when I was coming out of the shower. When I had flare-ups, it was extremely painful to shower, so instead of being like, “I’m in pain!” I kept on writing these letters, just continuously professing my love for my body.

When I finally realized I was in partnership with my body, it slowly healed. 

It was also cool to do this photo shoot and realize, “Oh, that’s what my body looks like now.” I used to be in film and television, and, man, the pressure to be 95 to 110 pounds is really intense. You’re expected to look a particular way. And people won’t say it outright. They’ll never say, “You’re fat.” It’ll be like, “Well, you could do a few sit-ups.”

I’ve moved from that kind of dialogue to now being able to say, “No, my body can grow and be abundant in size, and that’s me. This is my actual size.” 

As I looked at the photos, it was so awesome to see the landscape of my body changing to a larger one now that I’m not constantly hurting and starving it to be a particular size.


See last year’s Body Issue here.

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