Discover more from The Rewilded Life
An invitation to take up space
Western civilization decided long ago that the ideal woman was small, convenient, and unobtrusive. Even with all of our modern progress, women still hear the age-old message loud and clear: Don’t take up too much space, literally or figuratively. Don’t get any crazy ideas about deserving it.
And we do internalize these messages, no matter how badly we want to kick them to the curb. There are many ways women try to become smaller. There is diet and exercise, of course, but most of what we do is unconscious and harder to identify. Maybe you cross your arms and legs when you sit down—or maybe your habit is to pull a throw pillow over your lap. Maybe you squeeze into a size that became uncomfortable a long time ago. Perhaps for you, it's taking a flat iron to your wild, curly hair, or foregoing the fabulous heels that would make you “too” tall. Do you apologize when someone else bumps into you? Do you hesitate to speak up at work?
Men tend not to shy away from taking what they need spatially (we’ve all witnessed the “man sprawl” on airplanes or public transportation), but women are taught to fold in upon themselves. Yoga instructors who work with women often encourage them to practice wide, expansive poses every day specifically for the practice of taking up space—because so often, our souls heal through the movement of our bodies.
What if you took this challenge on as a spiritual practice? Perhaps you could try stretching out wide before you start your day, or breaking the habit of always crossing your arms. Maybe you try letting your hair go wild and wavy, or wearing heels that make you tower over everyone else. These do not sound like spiritual practices, but when done intentionally they can communicate God’s heart to you, reminding you that you do not exist to be a convenience to others. After all, this world is your world, too. You are entitled to take up space.
Last spring and summer I worked on a secret passion project with Franciscan Media, and it’s my joy to get to finally release it out into the world. Luminous is a 30-day guided journal to help women process the relationship between body and soul — ultimately arriving to a place of greater inner freedom and embodied spirituality. The goal isn’t to “love your body in 30 days”. Far from it. But rather to find a home within yourself; one that makes you feel safe, loved, and welcomed as you navigate this life and your relationship with God.
I hope each of you are staying warm, safe, and healthy. Praying for all the graces of winter to reach every single one of us.