At Prairie Wear we are graced with the presence and beauty of so many wonderful women whose bodies carry them through the ups & downs of life in amazing ways.

One of the many incredible women we’ve met along the way is the wonderful poet Toni Stuart who uses her spoken and written work to remind us that the world is complex but can be changed, and that our bodies carry stories and us through our lives and are to be celebrated.

We commissioned Toni to write a poem for us to celebrate the diversity, strength and wonder of our bodies and it’s a poignant & powerful look into her own life and journey with her own body, her mother’s body and learning to love ourselves just as we are.

Thank-you for the inspiration and fearlessness, Toni, you are a joy to have in our #prairiecircle!

if my body could speak

when i was a child, i stood riveted before the mirror: 

curious and laughing, i studied every freckle on my face

contorted my nose and mouth into unseemly shapes.

when i was a teen, i made wishes to the mirror:

raised my eyebrows to grow my eyes, clenched my butt 

to give it more volume –aching to be more beautiful.

when i was a woman, i gazed into the mirror

of my mother’s face. my hands massaging warmth

into her feet after chemo, my fingers washing her thinning hair.  

her eyes told me stories of Saturday afternoons

running the length of soccer pitches in the rain,

throat hoarse with cheering her team and goading the ref.

her smile told me stories of Friday nights

in darkened church halls, feet sweeping light

across wooden floors to the band’s jazz and swing.

her cheeks told me stories of cool Indian ocean swims

on scorching summer days; and the taste of pistachio

ice-cream on the plaza in Rome, with my father

but these are stories no mirror will show.

the mirror speaks of girth and my skin marked with stretches 

but i see a stomach with steel enough to ride fear

and stand on a stage before a crowd of one thousand faces.

the mirror speaks of flab and my slow sag of thigh

but i see legs of stamina walking 45km through undulating

terrain, finding their way in the dark to cross a tidal river.

the mirror speaks of grey slowly creeping through my curls

but i see a face softened by grief and love. i see a breast 

that will one day feed a child. i see skin that survived german measles, chicken pox and eczema

i see a hand that looks like my mother’s and her mother’s and her mother’s

my grandmother’s body fought diabetes

now my blood tastes life’s sweetness

my mother’s body held cancer

now my cells carry hope

the mirror shows me the rise and fall of my breath

i see a body learning how to accept its softness

i see a body learning how to recognize its strength

                        - Toni Giselle Stuart

You can also listen to Toni reading her poem here