Relationships

Seeing My Body With Fresh Eyes

Seeing My Body With Fresh Eyes

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!) so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting one of the most popular posts from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on March 23, 2017.

For our first date, Kelly took me four-wheeling in a huge mud-filled obstacle course. Hours later, we were covered in mud and giggling. Then he kissed me. I hadn’t known how I felt about him, until his lips were on mine — but then, I knew. He felt familiar and safe. But he also weighed less than I did, and that was nerve-wracking…

When we got back to my house, we walked into my bedroom, laughing about something or other. He asked, “What’s that number on the wall?” I hesitated, then decided to tell the truth. “That’s how much I weigh.” I’d been keeping a record ever since the last guy I dated told me I’d gotten too fat for him to reasonably be attracted to. Kelly just nodded, and continued telling me a story about four-wheeling with his best friend. Then he kissed me again, and said, “How soon until I can take you on a second date?”

Kel never brought up the number written on the wall, even when the numbers changed. I thought he was being polite, but when I asked he shrugged.

“I don’t notice it. Even if the numbers have changed, you feel the same. I like the way you feel.”

That night, I stood in front of my mirror and attempted to just feel my body, without judgement. I liked how I felt, too. Still, I was convinced the sensation of liking my body would leave when he did. We’d both insisted our relationship shouldn’t be too serious. I was fresh off an obviously bad break up, and he would soon be leaving for an out-of-state internship. College was coming to an end for both of us. We had time to have fun, but not to build something long-term. Or so we thought.

We remained friends, even when he returned from his internship and immediately moved to Seattle. We spoke on the phone often. I’d moved to Indianapolis, gained more weight, and decided to take a break from romantic love. I was happy. But one year after he moved away, Kelly showed up on my doorstop, a thousand miles from his own, and kissed me.

“Are you seeing anybody?”

I shook my head no. I’d like to say in that moment I was thinking how sweet or wild or romantic this all was. I wasn’t. I was wondering if he’d noticed how much weight I’d gained. I was back up to my highest weight, 190 lbs. I wondered if he’d gotten a good look at me before he kissed me. But there he was, still standing in the middle of my living room, eyes fixed on mine, waiting for me to say something. I asked him to come to my bedroom and talk.

He convinced me to give a relationship a shot. He’d still be living in Seattle, and I’d still be living in Indianapolis. We decided we’d visit each other, and if at the end of the year we were still happy, we would find a way to be in the same place.

We fell in love a thousand miles, and one time zone, apart. We read each other’s favorite books, sent each other care packages, and he texted me every morning to say he hoped I was having a great day. We talked about our fears and insecurities. For the first time ever, I told someone — whom I wanted to be attracted to my body — just how unattractive I actually felt. He said, “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive. I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive. Please, don’t hide it from me.”

Almost as soon as we’d agreed that I’d move to Seattle and freelance, I got offered a full-time writing position in New York. I took the job, moved to Brooklyn, and six months later, Kelly followed. Again, I worried what he’d think about my weight once he had to look at me every day. What if the long-distance part of our relationship was what allowed me to remain attractive to him? My worst insecurities about my body scurried to the front of my mind.

Then, he moved in.

Almost immediately, I realized how wrong I’d been. When I’d complain about having to shave, he’d ask, “Who are you shaving for? If it’s for you, just do it. If it’s for me, don’t. I want you to be comfortable in your body.” When I’d wear makeup, he’d tell me how beautiful those colors looked on me. When I didn’t, he’d hold my cheeks in his hands and kiss my “fresh face.” He loved me in clothes I’d been told weren’t flattering for someone with a belly like mine. When I wore something tailored, he praised me for my style. When I got out of the shower, he’d stop to watch me cover myself in moisturizers from head to toe. He looked at me with adoration, encouraged me to present my body the way that felt right to me, and in doing so, helped me manage my twisted view of my body.

Of course, it’s not all roses. He can be aloof, and I can be messy. I’m an efficiency freak, and he couldn’t care less if something takes five minutes longer. We even got into a huge fight at the Happiest Place on Earth. But we find our way back to each other, and I never worry he’ll tell me how hard it is be with me because I’m fat and difficult.

Maya Angelou says, “Love liberates. It does not bind.” Before Kelly, “love” always looked like fixing myself the right way, so someone could bring themselves to love me. Being perfectly shaved, perfectly thin, and perfectly presentable. Now, I know real love makes room for you to love yourself the way you are, and the way you want to be. I feel more beautiful than I ever have, and I allow myself things I assumed were only allowed for women doing a better job at being pretty than I was. I allow myself to live fully. I present myself to the world in a way that feels right to me. Love got me here. Whether Kelly and I stay together forever (fingers crossed ’cause I really like him), is irrelevant. This is who I am now. Love liberated me. I’m never going back.

I like the way I feel.

Ashley C. Ford

Ashley Ford is a writer, editor and public speaker. She is currently writing a memoir. She lives in Brooklyn by way of Indiana.

P.S. A seven-step guide to heartbreak, and who initiates sex in your relationship?

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo. Portrait of Ashley Ford by Eric Ryan Anderson for The Great Discontent.)

  1. Yup, I’m totally crying at my desk. Such true words – and what an absolute dote this Kelly is!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Ashley. I appreciated this immensely, and I imagine every woman would because body consciousness is all too human in today’s society.

    Loving oneself is such an incredible… exercise in itself, and to have a champion in loving who you are sounds incredible. A personal trainer, maybe, but one who is training you in self-care that suits you, whether or not it aligns with what is propagated by the media.

    I especially appreciate this having feared being appreciated in this way myself. I am both above average height and have gained a noticeable amount of weight in the past couple of years. I am constantly afraid of being considered too big by romantic interests, in shape and size. This feeling was made worse during an eight-month co-living arrangement with a tall and very lean male roommate, who, admittedly, I had a crush on. He paraded young, lithe women in and out of our house and would share all the juicy details about their engagements. Once, very vulnerable, I asked if he was attracted to me at all. He told me, no, because I was not thin enough, because my legs were larger than his. But he tells all his friends I’m brilliant, he kindly added. Ouch. This confirmed every fear I had, and sent me into a horrible struggle with my body, constantly fearing how it looked to him at home. Luckily, I have since moved out.

    Long story short, though, whew, what a relief to know there are good men out there, who love you for the wonder you are.

    Thank you.

  3. Leslie says...

    Fantastic!

  4. Cousa says...

    My husband is overweight. Actually, he is obese. He’s been always a big guy, and in the past few years we had some difficult times in our professional careers, and he ate his way through it.

    I love him, I always loved him, and I’ll love him no matter how he looks like. I always find him attractive. When he holds my hand I have butterflies flying in me. I love to look at his eyes, his cheeks, his silhouette and can’t help but think, ‘oh wow, this man is mine.’

    The things I find hard to deal with is how difficult life is for him and for me because of his physical limitations. I want to take him for walks, for hikes, for picnics. He can’t keep up with me even for a short stroll to the park. He doesn’t want to show up to parties because he’s constantly worried about his looks. He sometimes avoids seeing people because of possible comments about his recent weight changes. I end up doing social an active stuff mostly just by myself, and I feel guilty all the time because I leave him behind.

    I’ve come to understand that no matter how I support him, it is ultimately he who needs to like and approve of his body. If he’s not happy with his body, I can’t make him so.

    Luckily he’s making progress on being more healthy and taking better care. He wants to walk a few miles without being out of breath, or show up to beach parties and feel happy about his looks. I can’t imagine if he hated his self image but did nothing about it, that would put us into a endless cycle of cheer up/feel down every day.

  5. A WEEK OF OUTFITS, pleeeeease! XO

  6. Lo says...

    I’m so proud of this chick! I think every single person in the world can admit that at some point in their life they have felt unattractive or unwanted because of something they don’t have much control over. I know personally, after major abdominal surgery, I thought I was never going to find a partner because of how butchered my belly is. Instead, I found someone who had been there through it all and praises me publicly BECAUSE of my scarred history.

    I find this piece so liberating, I love that Kelly helped her love herself, instead of making her love herself. Proud girl moment right here!

    Lo
    http://www.themixtures.com

  7. The body perfection idea is such a terrible thing…for a start, define perfection. I think it comes down to this: a body, doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, for the right job. And it isn’t static, either. My own body has – like everybody else’s on the whole planet – changed shape, size, look and feel according to the phase of my life. That is the genius of it. Just make the damn thing work. Everything else is nonsense.

  8. “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive. I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive. Please, don’t hide it from me.”

    you know what, tears make a really nice addition to the yogurt i was eaten for breakfast.

    gah.

  9. “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive.” Amen.

  10. i love this. i’m lucky enough to be with someone who has helped me feel exactly like this

  11. Erica Alvino says...

    Damn I loved this. Keep writing! This is beautiful and wonderful. Thank you.

  12. Nicole S says...

    I absolutely adore this. Ashley is such a gifted writer, and this essay just underscores how lucky I feel to have found my own Kelly who pays no mind to how he’s “supposed” to feel about women’s bodies.

    We large ladies are encouraged by society to shrink ourselves away, and hide, and be ashamed of the space we inhabit. To reject that, whether by dressing the way we like, or refusing to diet, or in any hundreds of small ways every day, is to make a personal (and political) declaration that we belong only to ourselves. I am not interested in existing for the pleasure of others; I don’t owe the world prettiness or thinness or sexiness or femininity. I only owe myself love and care, and my only regret is that its taken me so long to realize that.

    • Lo says...

      Amen!

  13. sharon says...

    I love Ashley’s writing so much and was so happy to discover this here. Kelly seems like a top-notch man but I sure do wish I had more lady friends like Ashley in my life. She just seems like the coolest! Also, Ashley, if you’re reading this, I stalked your Instagram to see pictures of you and Kelly and you are the cutest couple ever.

  14. Theresa says...

    Beautiful. I loved this. I read some of her other beautiful writings on her website. I’m a fan!

  15. Dinah says...

    Awesome.

  16. Brittney says...

    LOVE this line: ‘It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive. I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive.’ I’m going to start saying that to my daughter, friends, and myself!

  17. Juliette says...

    Absolutly beautiful story. Thank you !

  18. Lilia says...

    Love this. Everyone should be so lucky to find a partner like Ashley’s.

  19. Rainbow says...

    So many onions!!

    • Jess. says...

      Yes! Onions everywhere. :)

  20. Savannah says...

    I kept patting my wonky post-baby belly while I read this. That belly kept one of my favorite people alive while she grew! I should be more gentle on it and myself.

    • Isabella says...

      Yes! I have to remember to be tender to my wonky post-baby belly, too. Give your whole body a big hug and a high five!

    • The post partum body is difficult for me as well! But we grew and nourished our babies, and it’s nothing but beautiful!

  21. Anna says...

    Wow, what a beautiful story. Thank you for your openness in sharing what goes through many of our heads!

  22. Bianca says...

    So much love for this. Many of us struggle with body image. There seem to be ups and downs when loving ourselves. The honesty of this essay was beautiful.

  23. This made me tear up. So much truth. Thank you!

  24. Vicky says...

    Truly a pleasure to read your innermost, brave, and honest thoughts. This essay really resonated with me.

  25. Esther says...

    what a beautiful piece. i loved reading this.

  26. Lucy says...

    That lovely man is a keeper.

  27. Sarah says...

    So beautiful! Crying!

  28. Aimee says...

    This might be my favorite thing I’ve read here, and that’s saying a lot. Thanks for this!

  29. Maria says...

    wow, this is a mirror image of my (overweight) life story. Had I been as wise and honest as Ashley, I would be married to the love of my life right now. Hindsight (unfortunately) is 20/20. Beautifully written piece Ashley. CoJ team, have you considered starting a Podcast series?

    • Auste says...

      Podcast!!! Yes please!

  30. Mel says...

    Much love to you, Ashley <3

  31. Katherina says...

    Loved this piece so much, just checked out the writer’s website and then ended up in her Instagram… She is SO pretty, crazy how we judge our bodies.

  32. He sounds wonderful. YOU sound wonderful! What a lovely story.

  33. He sounds wonderful. YOU sound wonderful. What a lovely story.

  34. Alex says...

    We should never have to apologise for the space we occupy in the world, but we do every day. We move out of the way when men walk towards us. We slouch. We apologise for everything. The things that make women powerful: our bodies, our voices, our power – the world makes us either aspire to smallness or to be chastened by greatness.
    Thank you for your insight into all of this. You write so beautifully, and you capture love and strength so powerfully.

    • Kate says...

      Yes! One time I was (kindly, politely) accosted by a group on campus that was having women write on a board and finish the line “I am strong because…..” and I wrote “my strength and fearlessness to show it.” I was so embarrassed after walking away that I had written that I was “strong because of my strength” but after a few years I realized, no! I was right to write that! I’m not afraid to show that I’m a strong, tall, big woman and that does make me a strong person!

  35. Cat Mouton says...

    Beautiful

  36. Stephanie says...

    I live you Ashley. (and Kelly isn’t bad either! ;)

  37. Kelly says...

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing… loving your body is so darn hard. Too hard. I still look at the number, but I also have shifted my focus finally to what my body can DO. At the end of 2015 it survived chemo, in November 2016 it ran its first marathon. In July this year – my body will carry me through a half-ironman. I’ll never be thin, but I love that I am strong.

    • Pamela says...

      GO YOU!!! Amazing!

  38. Aw man, I love how honest and real this is. Real love is somethin’.

  39. Amelia says...

    I love everything about this. LOVE Ashley Ford! Love hearing reflections about different body types. I loved the part about just feeling one’s body. Also, Ashley, you look freaking awesome!!

    (Also, I was trying to find a link to something I thought was Moth story, about a woman feeling like her feelings about her body were re-wired right down to the synapses after seeing the photography of Leonard Nimoy of all people, who photographed women who carry a lot of weight. I had the same experience! Amazing to see the kinds of folds my body has depicted with such sensuality in “The Full Body Project.” http://www.rmichelson.com/artists/leonard-nimoy/the-full-body-project/)

  40. Emmy says...

    Love Ashley’s writing so much! First found her on Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour podcast. Can’t wait for her memoir!

  41. Jennifer says...

    thank you for this

  42. Rachel says...

    I started crying about halfway through–this is so real. To quote a recent video by John Green, I’m still struggling to stop “seeing my body as an antagonist” rather than just a part of my physical person, or better, the thing that keeps me alive.

    Thanks for writing this, Ashley, and thanks for unpacking this raw emotion in so few words.

  43. Casey says...

    two thumbs up!!

  44. Anita says...

    Thank you Ashley. This is just so beautifully written. I am cheering and crying. And you have really given me a new perspective and hope!

  45. Margie Di Croce says...

    Wow….so beautiful. Thank you for sharing, you’ve opened my eyes.

  46. Alyssa says...

    Love this so much, beautiful essay Ashley!

    I weigh 70 pounds more than my husband and am two inches taller. I remember someone once telling me, “you don’t want to be that couple with the giant woman and smaller man do you? You’re going to tower over him on your wedding day” It took a long time as most journeys do, but do you know what? I actually really like being that couple and it never even crossed my mind on our wedding day :)

    • Theresa says...

      I’m so struck that someone would say that!? WTH!?

  47. Emily says...

    That was beautiful. Both the writing, and the story itself.

  48. Emme says...

    Gosh, I loved this essay! Could you please start a podcast, Joanna? I’d love to hear interviews with these authors and the awesome subjects of your beauty and fashion posts. :)

    • Lorena says...

      Yes, I love this idea! This would be an amazing podcast!

  49. Cassandra says...

    I love this post.

  50. Alison says...

    That was incredible. So far I’m loving the new series! Thanks for sharing, Ashley.

  51. Carly Travis says...

    This is beautiful. Congrats, Ashely! Xx

  52. Kelli says...

    My favorite essay on CoJ so far. As someone who recently got a Mommy Makeover and then had huge complications, I wish I would have been able to read this sooner.

    • Yvonne says...

      My favorite,too!

  53. Meredith says...

    Ashley Ford is such a light.

  54. I too weigh significantly more than my partner, though it’s a bit different. This is probably because he’s underweight and I am “average.” I wondered at the beginning about being “too big,” whether people would be confused seeing us walk down the street hand in hand. But friends reassured me that even with me when I’m 25-40 lbs heavier, we don’t look incongruent.

    After that initial question, though, weight hasn’t been much of a focal point for me in our relationship, but the insecurity is largely on his side because he’s outside of that particular norm. So in our case the gender roles are flipped, and I make it a point to emphasize that his skinniness is not a detractor to his sexiness. I love his body and I love mine, and I’m happy the way they fit together regardless of size.

  55. Charla says...

    I love this piece and you are gloriously stunning.

  56. This is lovely! I, too, am struggling with weight issues and reading this has made me rethink how I saw my body. After becoming a mom, I’ve packed on pounds, stretch marks, and all the not-so-fun stuff of motherhood. I worried that my partner would no longer find me attractive. But I am fortunate to be with someone who couldn’t care less about numbers and sizes. He told me that even if my size goes up from S to M to L to XL (and even if more Xs get added to it), he will always see beyond my size and keep loving my beautiful, gorgeous self. <3 This piece certainly hits home! Thank you!

  57. Beth says...

    Absolutely beautifully written. Thank you for this piece. I am three inches taller and probably 30 pounds heavier than my very tiny, very secure-in-himself-and-in-me husband and we could not be more into one another. In fact, we secretly find our non-traditional physical dynamic pretty damn sexy. Ladies, let this be a lesson: if you have an online dating profile with height or weight requirements checked off, uncheck that shit immediately.

  58. Oh man, I truly loved this.

  59. This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Ashley!

  60. Christina says...

    Crying, at work. This was lovely. And so happy you were able to find that love for your body (I’m still working on that myself) and love in life in general.

    <3

  61. Bec says...

    This was a wonderful read! Loved the part about how it’s not the body’s job to be perfect, very true.

    On another note, I find it interesting that a lot of Americans seem to say someone ‘could care less’ instead of ‘couldn’t care less’. Is it a different saying? In England/Australia we say someone ‘couldn’t care less’ when they literally don’t care at all. Because if you ‘could care less’ it means you care at least a bit. Perplexing! Can anyone shed some light on this?

    • Mei says...

      It’s the same. Just a tic of American English!

    • Amy says...

      I’m in Canada; I think it’s one of those things like “irregardless”. You hear it mis-said and perpetuate it without really thinking it through. I still catch myself saying “I could care less” occasionally instead of the correct “I couldn’t care less.”

    • KC says...

      As far as I can tell, in the US at this point only grammar nerds reliably say “couldn’t care less.” Everybody else couldn’t care less, though, and they treat the two similarly to flammable/inflammable.

  62. What a beautiful and touching story. I must say, reading this article brightened my day. Thank you Ashley, for leaning into your vulnerability and sharing your story. It is so easy to get caught up in the numbers in life. The numbers on a scale. The numbers in your bank account. The numbers on social media. But, we need to remember that none of those numbers really matters. What matters is how we feel! When we truly feel good (spiritually, mentally and physically, that’s when the real liberation happens!

    Best of luck to you and Kelly :)

  63. Kit says...

    GOOSEBUMPSSSS

  64. One of my mantras is “who I am and what I have to offer *today* is good enough. It’s not about losing weight or having a better paying job or less crazy family. The right person will love you once you love and accept yourself. And if you manage to learn that without 3 years of therapy….well, you’re doing better than I did. ;)

  65. Jessica says...

    Nothing to say except BRAVO! Loved this.
    (also thanks to above commenter for ee Cummings poem. Somehow never read that one before)

  66. shannon says...

    “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive.”
    ^this reminds me of the body neutrality idea we were talking about on last week’s Friday roundup.

    What a beautiful love story – both the two of them together, and Ashley learning to love herself too.

  67. Maia says...

    Incredible essayé, writing, lover, couple… I sobbed from so much cuteness and romantisme. Thank you!

  68. Cheryl says...

    I am applauding you, Ashley! Good luck with Kelly. Thanks for his beautiful quote about keeping his favorite person alive.
    I, too, discovered unconditional love and it’s so liberating. Love that is boundless and bouyant and holds together when things get tough is divine love.
    It’s a kind of love that feels straight from God Herself, because it is!

  69. Colleen says...

    I love you both.

  70. Ashley Ford, you are bananas awesome and so beautiful!

  71. Kimberly LaCroix says...

    This just took the cake, no hesitation, as my favorite ever CoJ post. Thank you for this.

  72. What a beautiful essay, just lovely. More of this please:)

  73. Danielle says...

    This chokes me up in all the best ways. When my husband and I first started dating, I was struggling with major body image problems. One night, he was planning to come over to watch a movie. I had just gotten out of the shower, and I knew it didn’t make sense to put on makeup at and get ready at 9:00 pm, but I was nervous because he had never seen “that side of me” (i.e. make-up-less and wet hair). I decided to try not to care, because if the relationship was meant to be, he’d inevitably see me in much worse states. When I opened the door to let him in I was so nervous that he’d make a face or wince, which he of course didn’t. Now, years later, he still talks about “that time I came to watch a movie and your hair was wet and you looked so unbelievably sexy–I couldn’t imagine what I had done to get so lucky.”

    • Lauren E. says...

      I held it together until I read your comment. What a sweet story.

  74. Laura G. says...

    wonderful piece! thanks for sharing some things i’ve been needing to hear lately.

  75. Maggie says...

    These lines straight up made me cry: “Now, I know real love makes room for you to love yourself the way you are, and the way you want to be. I feel more beautiful than I ever have, and I allow myself things I assumed were only allowed for women doing a better job at being pretty than I was.” Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your story, and thank you to Kelly for being part of this story. You’re a lovely, lucky woman and I’m so happy for you.

    • Kate says...

      This is the sweetest, sweetest thing. I loved reading this!

  76. beautifully written and goes to show that when the right person loves you, they see who you truly are, no matter what shape.

  77. M says...

    This was so sweet and uplifting. Thanks for sharing

  78. Natalie says...

    Bookmarking this!!!

    May we all have a Kelly in our lives :)

  79. Amazing. I hope you keep loving your gorgeous self, and your relationship keeps going through the seasons…thank you for using and sharing your gifts of writing.

  80. I am overwhelmingly moved by this. I have struggled most of my life with an eating disorder and this hits home so much more than I can say. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  81. Ashley says...

    This was perfect in every way. I very much look forward to this series.

  82. Caitlin says...

    This was amazing! Thank you!

  83. Haylie S. says...

    Loved this SOOOO much.

  84. What a delight to find this was written by a woman of color (and by Ashley who I was already following on Twitter). Appreciate the diverse content.

  85. Roo says...

    Exceptional writing, and a reminder of the transformative power of true love. I was really choked up reading this.

  86. I absolutely LOVED reading this piece. It reminded me of my own kind, thoughtful, generous husband and how thankful I am that he is attracted to me at any weight, shape, size, age, or energy level. He will often tell me how beautiful I am with or without makeup and often comes in to the bathroom while I’m showering just to “check me out”. Let’s hear it for the beautiful women in this world! And a hip-hip-hooray for supportive and loving partners!

  87. Allison says...

    I’ve become such a huge fan of Ashley’s since I heard her speak on Women of the Hour. Another beautiful piece, by a beautiful woman! Thanks for sharing, Ashley :)

    • Lexis says...

      Same same :)

  88. Suzanne says...

    Ashley – this was a really lovely piece. Thank you for writing this and sharing a beautiful piece of your relationship with us.

    My husband marvels at my body – even and especially the places that cause me to feel uncomfortable. He calls me beautiful when I feel anything but and reminds me that I am sexy even when I’m in sweatpants with no make-up and messy hair.

    XOXO

  89. Lindsay says...

    LOVE this. I struggle with my body image and often find myself saying horrible things about my body and weight (and the list goes on) but I’m married to a Kelly, 20lbs smaller than me and all, and he constantly reminds me to be kinder to myself and body. I think it’s well past time that I listen to this intelligent man.

    Ashley, thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I would love to read your memoir; you’re incredible. Thank you.

  90. Bea says...

    Wow, that was really lovely! I have a teenage daughter who thinks that she will only get a boyfriend when she loses weight. This article is so empowering! Thank you for sharing!

  91. Bridget says...

    This was beautiful! :)

  92. Esther says...

    This is so beautifully written and relatable for me. Thank you for baring your soul. Vulnerable and true.

  93. Sadie says...

    Currently tearing up reading this in a coffee shop. I love every bit of this beautiful essay. It reminds me of my own relationship with my body and how someone who loves you – as my husband does – can liberate you. Thank you Ashley and Cup of Jo!

  94. alston says...

    Thank you! This resonates so much with me today, and many days. I experiencing what feels like a new chapter… I feel like I am watching my body age right before my eyes. My stomach is soft and pudgy (it has carried two babies to term), my breasts are saggy, my face is starting show smile lines… most days I embrace it, but there are days I am sad. Ultimately, my body is strong and can care for my babies, my mind is sharp and can perform at work and provide for my family, and my laugh is still strong after all these years… thank you for perspective today! Beautiful!

  95. Heather says...

    This is such a beautiful story – thank you for sharing! I feel happier than I did ten minutes ago – and that’s why I love this blog. :)

  96. Korin B. says...

    This made me cry at work. Thank you!

  97. Dori says...

    Absolutely beautiful and powerful! It gave me chills. Thanks for sharing Jo! As a mom of two, my body has changed drastically postpartum, and I struggle everyday with accepting my flabby skin and my belly full of stretch marks. I try to tell myself that i have two beautiful and healthy angels that i am blessed with, but I do not like what I see in the mirror. I have a wonderful husband who loves me for who i am regardless, and is only concerned about my health inside my body rather than what actually shows on the outside.

  98. Kato says...

    I loved this

  99. deb says...

    i loved this so, so much…relatable and beautiful!

  100. Kudos to the blog. You have such uplifting content.

    Such a beautiful essay. I have been smiling for hours and came back to comment. Thank you for sharing.

  101. Stephanie says...

    I’ve loved Ashley’s writing (I’m obsessed with her Twitter) for a long time and I was THRILLED to see her on your blog. Thank you, Joanna, and thank you, Ashley, for this beautiful piece!

  102. Zoe says...

    This article hits home for me. Brought tears to my eyes at my desk. Thank you Ashley!

  103. Kaitlin says...

    such a beautiful essay. I love the last bit re: true love = liberation.

  104. Blythe says...

    So many things I’m feeling reading this essay. Ashley thank you for articulating how I’ve felt for so long and am just now recognizing and moving past. My husband has always loved every part of me and never made me feel bad about myself. Through dating, our wedding, and last year when my body image issue bubbled up to the surface – in the form of an eating disorder – he’s been there to support and love me every step of the way.

    From one Indy woman to another, thank you.

  105. Teree says...

    I love this story so much! I have always hated many parts of my body but I am married to a ‘Kelly’ and he adores me body. It is hard to see myself like he does, but I try.

    Also, I was recently diagnosed with MS, so that whole ‘body’s job is to stay alive’ rings true. Instead of disliking my flabby legs, I rejoice every morning that they still work.

  106. Laura says...

    I weigh more than Ashley and I have to say having my boyfriend (who sounds like Kelly!) be openly into my body really changed my view of myself and made me appreciate our relationship so much. Lots of my previous partners made direct and indirect comments about my weight and I could tell they wanted to be with a smaller woman- it does a number on your psyche. I thought I had to be thin to be attractive and loved, because that was the evidence I had. But finding a man who loves ME for who I am and how I look just as I am was really revolutionary and made me start to see myself in a new light.

  107. Rosa says...

    I’ve loved reading this. Thank you, Ashley! And Cup of Jo!

  108. I Love this so much. What a great guy and what a profound Journey.

  109. Natalia M. says...

    wow i loved this <3

  110. Amanda Phillips says...

    And now I am crying at work…
    Such a beautiful, relatable essay. “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It is a body’s job to keep you alive” is going to be printed out and put next to my mirror. I loved, loved, loved this. Thank you for bringing us this essay cup of jo and thank you to Ashley for sharing.

  111. Diana says...

    Wow! I got actual chills reading this.

  112. That was so beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  113. Oh my gosh, I love this essay so much! Kelly sounds like a dream…I wish we all were able to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others. I’m so glad a) she is finally with someone who loved her just the way she was (instead of that awful ex who used her weight as an excuse to break up…my god!) and b) that she loves herself. That most of all. What a hard lesson to learn. So proud of her, love her writing, and feeling so inspired! Thank you Ashley!

  114. Beth says...

    My husband is a small guy, and I’ve always been a few pounds heavier than him. Recently the gulf widened when he became seriously ill. Gives a whole new meaning to: “it’s your body’s job to keep you alive”. And while I felt super self conscious when my mother in law commented on our size difference recently, the experience has made me so grateful for my very healthy, strong, working body. I love my body and my husband so much.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for this, beth. xoxo

  115. Kerry says...

    Love this and so relatable! Also, very excited about the dating series.

  116. Jean says...

    I loved this. That’s real love, right there.

  117. Laura C. says...

    What an awesome story, thank you Ashley for sharing.

  118. Gabrielle says...

    Beautiful. In every way.

  119. rach says...

    Wonderful story. I feel most beautiful and strong when I’m physically active.
    It’s liberating, I realize how much I’m capable of.

  120. Loribeth says...

    Well, I cried.

  121. Beth says...

    What can I say other than I simply loved reading this!

  122. Marlyn says...

    This is a beautiful, powerful and well needed story. Thanks for so much for doing this. Love it!

  123. Heather says...

    So, so beautiful. I think she should write a novel.

  124. Michelle says...

    Love the dual meaning of this essay. Absolutely stunning.

  125. Shay says...

    Wow. Just wow. Powerful message, beautiful story.

  126. Robin says...

    Just beautiful – this essay, Ashley, and her man! Thank you so much for this.

  127. Irene says...

    brought tears to my eyes. so much gratitude all the way from italy

  128. Kathryn says...

    I love this piece. Thanks so much for sharing Ashley. Beautiful writing and beautiful body!

  129. Kristen says...

    “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive. I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive.” Aahh! As I struggle through figuring out my new postpartum body (which gained 85 pounds during pregnancy and is still 30 pounds heavier than it’s ever been), this is such a great reminder to love my body for keeping my TWO favorite people alive: myself and my son!

  130. Stephanie says...

    Thank you. Thank you Ashley for writing this. Thank you Cup of Jo for sharing this.

  131. Angela says...

    that was beautiful, thank you

  132. Laura says...

    LOVE this. This is exactly the way I want to feel about my body. Thank you.

  133. Arielle says...

    I love the truth that the last paragraph reveals. What a treat to read this essay

  134. Mallory says...

    Can she write every week? Love everything about this piece.

  135. cooper says...

    Love this essay! My husband once called me “sturdy stock” as a joke, and I realized that I loved thinking of my body that way! We now talk about my body as being sturdy and strong, and it’s so comforting and freeing to be able to acknowledge (and celebrate) that reality instead of pretending or wishing I was skinny.

    • Kirsten says...

      This comment makes me smile because my beloved grandmother always referred to herself as “sturdy”. I don’t think she always meant it in a positive way, but I just loved that description because of what a strong woman she was, physically and emotionally :).

  136. Lo says...

    What a beautifully written essay. I’m wishing you continued love and joy in your relationship!!

  137. Laura says...

    This is terrific. Thank you.

  138. MAN do I love Ashley. As someone privileged enough to know her, and see her love story in action, I can attest these two are an incredible couple. Thank you for featuring her and I hope her story inspires more women to love their bodies as much as they love the partner they are with! Like Kel, my husband loves me for who I am and I am SO thankful for that and how his views bolster my own self-confidence about my body!

  139. Jillian says...

    I love this. Thank you so much for sharing!

  140. Lovely start to this series! Got a bit misty-eyed at “I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive” – how lucky you both are to have found each other!
    It’s funny, once you experience this type of love – the liberating kind – your eyes are opened to the previous experiences that may have looked and quacked like love, but was a deceptive knock-off for the real thing.

    • Julie says...

      That line got me, too. So touching.

  141. Thought of this poem while reading :)

    “I Like My Body When It Is With Your”
    E.E. Cummings

    i like my body when it is with your
    body. It is so quite new a thing.
    Muscles better and nerves more.
    i like your body. i like what it does,
    i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
    of your body and its bones,and the trembling
    -firm-smooth ness and which i will
    again and again and again
    kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
    i like, slowly stroking the,shocking fuzz
    of your electric furr,and what-is-it comes
    over parting flesh….And eyes big love-crumbs,

    and possibly i like the thrill

    of under me you so quite new

    • One of my favorite poems!!! (I might have actually read it to my now-husband on our first date…ha!)

    • shannon says...

      Thanks for sharing – I just love how e e cummings manages to put feelings so precisely into words.

  142. Claire says...

    This is one of my favorite things I’ve read on here in all my years of reading Cup of Jo ♡.

    • Mallory says...

      Claire, me too! An incredibly fresh perspective – but one that feels like the perspective we have all been searching for.

  143. Emily says...

    How lovely. These words brought years to my eyes: He said, “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive. I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive. Please, don’t hide it from me.”

    To Ashley: Girl, you look gorgeous!

  144. isavoyage says...

    Amazing text. Thank you.

  145. I love, love, love Ashley’s writing, and this essay is no exception. I am very lucky to be with someone who also treats my body this way even when I struggle to. So happy for both of you.

  146. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing! I love the photos at the end, too. :)

  147. Meg says...

    awesome.