It's February; a month dedicated to love. While it’s easy to focus on romantic love and the ensuing highs, lows and feelings of loss and insecurity that can come with it, we are choosing to instead highlight stories of pure delight.
Love as the purest emotion felt with every fibre of your being. Love as an unconditional warm embrace that is with you for life. No vows are needed to bind these love stories, told via love letters by those who hold them dear in their heart.
This week: after challenging herself to an “arm boot camp.. not a toning exercise in sight, but a 7 day plan to overcome my fear”, creative Evie Kemp writes a love letter to her upper arms.
This professing of love is awkward and I completely understand if you find it hard to believe. It might sound hollow given our history. While we’ve been together for, well, ever I can’t really think of the last time I was particularly nice to you. I have a feeling that the last time I really took you out (albeit reluctantly) was to my 6th form ball, things were already strained and I believed I could do better. You continued on stoically despite my cooling, you never left my side, never complained, never gave up - everything I wanted, needed, you to do, you did it. And yet, I was embarrassed to be seen with you in public and at home I didn’t really want to even look at you, preferring to pretend that you just weren’t really there.
I spent a long time trying to work out where and when things had soured (on my part, not yours). I found a picture of us together at a high school pool party that now I look back on and see that we could have, should have been happy, but I still remember the squirming discomfort of having you there for everyone to see. I was shedding my childish body and swelling awkwardly into that of a woman and being wholly unprepared for all that entailed. Naively thinking I’d transform into gazelle - with breasts (a strange vision) rather than the reality of finding everything changes, softens, rounds.
Dinner lady arms (UK), tuckshop lady arms (NZ), auntie arms - the sneering names we have for you all come back to women, soft and gentle women, nurturing women, the very arms that would often hand over food and a hug. How do these descriptors for having fat on our upper arms become so laden with self loathing? How did the fear of letting others see our arms override our own physical comfort? It sounds silly and cruel writing this down. It doesn’t really sound like a good excuse for how I’ve treated you at all.
Perhaps I’ve finally reached the age of dinner lady wisdom? Or perhaps looking at nearly 20 years of sweating through summer in sleeves has finally broken me down? But this year, I decided I was determined to love you, my arms. My brilliant, pasty, chubby, strong, cuddly, arms. I set us a series of dates, outings, new outfits to show you off. I found my way back to liking you, to being proud to be seen with you, to no longer caring what, if anything, anyone else might think. It’s early days, I’m hesitant as I write this, worried I’ll slip back into old habits, but I’m excited too. This is something old, but something entirely new. Thank you for waiting for me. X
P.S. When shall we invite knees out?