I know this post is a little late coming, but I promised that I would write this — I need to write this.
Our final meeting of My Body & Soul was almost two weeks ago. I won’t say THE final meeting, but definitely my final one in the form that I had envisioned it for this year.
Although Spiritual Life will no longer be sponsoring My Body & Soul in the way they did this year, as MBS I learned in retrospect was always meant to be just a year-long internship project, that does not mean that it cannot continue at UChicago in some way, shape, or form. I think that it needs to.
I had two students (I can say that now as an alum!) come to me saying they would like to continue the program next year — and that makes me happy.
But it’s not about me.
Sure, the idea to start an interfaith discussion group for women of faith on the intersection of body image and religion started in my head, based on the experiences I had — being an overweight child and adolescent, losing all that weight in my early 20s, re-finding my faith, deciding to wear hijab and not realizing at the time that it was more than just a piece of cloth on my head, struggling with body image in the wake of hijab AND weight loss, feeling like a failure for not sustaining a weight that was most likely too low for me anyway…
But my story is just one story.
All the stories that I had the opportunity to learn more about in the course of our discussions are stories that still need to be told.
They should continue. They must continue.
I never started this project thinking I would solve the problem in the course of two quarters – yes, a lot of material is covered in the quarter system, but like every other class we take at UChicago, we never really become experts in the material, we are only led to the gates of further discovery.
I know that in the course of having these discussions with all of these lovely ladies – acquaintances turned into friends and friends turned into sisters – I’ve grown and learned so much about myself.
So thank you ladies, for giving me this opportunity. Like I’m sure I must have said before we parted (and if I did not, it was because I was overwhelmed with emotions and gratitude): This would not have been possible without you. Because you showed up at every meeting (which was not required, by the way), YOU made My Body & Soul the success that it was.
And yes, it was a tremendous success, especially if at least one woman has come away hating her body less.
I love and will miss you all!