When not to trust yourself
When you think you’re not enough or unworthy
When you think no one will understand
When you think you’re all alone
What not to eat
Things that don’t taste good
Things that are burnt beyond recognition
Things that are more ‘should’ than ‘want’
What not to do in relationships
Attempt to ‘fix’ people
Seek intimacy without vulnerability
Expect another to treat you better than you treat yourself
How not to walk through the world
Like we don’t need you here
Like you are superior to others
Like you are inferior to others
Like tomorrow is promised
The following is an excerpt from one of my favorite books for any woman seeking to become well-fed. This particular passage is the prologue and when I read it, back in 2003, I was so moved that I had it printed on a t-shirt. I just needed to plaster these words on my chest because they captured so much of what I was awakening to in and of my own body. If these words cause you to have a certain kind of ache, then I ask you not to tune that out. If these words stir you, a part of you knows that they are medicine, truth, and art all in one.
Pass them on.
The women linger at the water’s edge, and they are stunning in the most unusual way: large women, voluptuous, abundant, delighted. They lounge along the river bank, they lift their arms toward the sun, their hair ripples down their backs, which are smooth and broad and strong.
There is softness in the way they move, and also strength and sensuality, as though they revel in the feel of their own heft and substance.
Step back from the canvas, and observe, think, feel.
This is an image of bounty, a view of female physicality in which a woman’s hungers are both celebrated and undifferentiated, as though all her appetites are of a piece, the physical and the emotional entwined and given equal weight. Food is love on this landscape, and love is sex, and sex is connection, and connection is food; appetites exist in a full circle, or in a sonata where eating and touching and making love and feeling close are all distinct chords that nonetheless meld with and complement one another.
Renoir, who created this image, once said that were it not for the female body, he never could have become a painter. This is clear: there is love for women in each detail of the canvas, and love for self, and there is joy, and there is a degree of sensual integration that makes you want to weep, so beautiful it seems, and so elusive.
Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp