Culture + Community
Body Talk | Typewriter Series
We welcome our newest contributor and her “Typewriter Series” with its first, beautiful installment…
Our bodies are ancient storytellers: the scar on your knee tells the story of falling off your bike when you were young; the flush in your cheeks and butterflies in your stomach tell the story of what it’s like to be in love or excited or embarrassed. The food you ate yesterday, the path you walk through town without thinking about it, the familiar and reassuring touch of a close friend — these experiences become part of us, part of our cellular landscape.
But our bodies are carriers of more than just our own stories. Our bodies — in a very real and visceral sense — carry inside them the blood of our ancestors; that which sustained their life also sustains our own. Rachel Yehuda’s study on the descendants of Holocaust survivors found that trauma has intergenerational effects — that the stresses of one generation are passed down to the next. So the histories of our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers don’t just run through our veins; they’re also written in our cellular processes.
The predominant cultural story of a woman’s body is often that it’s not enough, or rather that it is too much, that our bodies carry too much weight, take up too much space, or in some other way fall outside the narrow realm of what’s currently considered fashionable. Too often, the story dotting the landscape of a woman’s body, the story passed down from generation to generation, is one of shame, deprivation, disappearance.
Thankfully, women and feminists around the world are spinning a new story, one that portrays the female body as valuable, resilient, strong — powerful not only in its ability to connect us to the past but also in its ability to connect us to the present, to the air we breathe and the ground we walk on, and in its likeness to Mother Earth herself – in its ability to create and nourish future generations.
In her book Women Who Run With the Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes gives us a new lens through which to understand the body’s power. She writes that the body is “a series of doors and dreams and poems through which we can learn all manner of things. In the wild psyche, body is understood as a being in its own right, one who loves us, depends on us, one to whom we are sometimes mother, and who is sometimes mother to us.” The following poems are meditations on this idea, and on the idea of body as storyteller.