Letters Regarding My Body

Ashley Kuykendall
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readDec 22, 2013


Dear Body,

Thank you for loving me even when I didn’t love you.

Dear Mother,

Thank you for every time you told me that if somebody didn’t like the way I looked, I should politely tell them to stop looking. Thank you for every time you told me that my strong legs and flushed cheeks were hand-me-downs from you. Thank you for every time you told me, “Don’t you dare put mascara on those beautiful eyelashes because if you do, someday they’ll all fall out.”

Dear Mother,

I’m sorry for every time I scoffed in resentment when discussing the parts I inherited from you. I’m sorry for never realizing that every time I criticized one of mine, you felt bad about one of yours. I’m sorry for every time I made you feel like “looking like you” was the worst punishment I could’ve received, rather than the best gift. I should be so luck as to have traces of you in me. You are beautiful.

Dear Sister,

You’ve always been “the pretty one” but I am here to tell you that, after all these years, I have always looked up to you and it’s not because you’re pretty. You’re beautiful; don’t get me wrong. But you are so much more than that.

You are beautiful.

You are creative.

You are unique.

You are smart in all the ways that I am not.

You are hilarious.

You are persistent.

You are you.

You are not. just. pretty.

Dear Boy Whose Fault It Wasn’t,

Like two pieces of the skull sutured together with jagged edges, we formed such a tight bond that sometimes it was hard to tell where you ended and I began. We slowly drifted apart, as these things often do, because we both needed room to grow. Every time you told me, “You are beautiful, why can’t you see that?” it broke my heart. I hope you know that it wasn’t because of you that I didn’t.

Dear Girl Whose Fault It Was,

Try to be nicer. Give yourself a little slack and remember that you are worthy of love, regardless of what other people say. Remember that if you don’t love you, no one else will be able to either, not because they won’t want to, but because you won’t let them. Trust that you are enough. You are always enough.

Dear Church,

Let’s try to remember that being respectful of our bodies and being ashamed of them is never the same thing. Let’s remember that sometimes the best way to honor our skin is to let it see the sunshine.

Dear Society,

Let’s remember that your eyeballs are not connected to my body and you only have control over one of the two. Let’s try to remember that when you tell me I’m pretty, it says more about you than it does about me and that no matter how you spin it, that catcall was not attractive. Could we start teaching people to love what they have instead of wanting what they don’t?

Dear Body,

As I look down at you now and see mountains and valleys and constellations placed carefully on my pale skin, I can use my lips to smile, remembering that those natural wonders are the things I’ve always loved anyway. I wouldn’t trade the Big Dipper on my shoulder for all the stars in the sky. I wouldn’t trade any curve on my path or my body for any other because they are well-worn and familiar. They may not be perfect, but they are mine.

Dear Body,

I’m sorry for keeping you hidden behind lies and too much cotton. I’m sorry for spending too much time wishing you were different. I’m sorry for never saying thank you before now.

Thank you, arms, for allowing me to hug the people that I love.

Thank you, hands, for reaching out with open palms ready to give to those in need.

Thank you, neck, for keeping my head held high.

Thank you, backbone, for helping me to remember which way is “up.”

Thank you, legs, for allowing me to walk away from things that no longer serve me.

Thank you, feet, for staying firmly planted on the ground and thank you, knees, for knowing when to bend.

Thank you, eyes, for allowing me to see the beauty in the world even when I couldn’t see it in myself.

Thank you, lips, for allowing me to kiss and smile at the people who come up and say, “you’re beautiful.”

Thank you.