(originally posted elsewhere, 1/7/2013)
I was just reading a thread about body-shaming and insecurity, and the courage in those words, the sheer cojones it must have taken to point out, in black and white, things that the author feels are her flaws, things about which she feels insecure and self-conscious, left me positively breathless.
And ashamed of myself, a little. I have a hard time with body image and insecurities, too, you see. A very hard time, though I have learned, the hard way, not to reveal that.
So, I’ve been working so hard on finding the positive inside the negative things in my life, and completely ignored … me. How fucked up is that?
There are certain physical things about me that, if I allowed them to, would simply paralyze me, socially. I would be a hermit. I still have difficulty believing that anyone finds me even the teensiest bit attractive, let alone sexy. They’re the parts of me I work very hard to hide, even when I’m naked in a room full of people. They’re the things that make me want to scream or run and hide whenever I feel that someone has drawn attention to them in any way. I’ve actually been, on more than one occasion, angry with my partners for mentioning them, even in totally non-judgmental, factual ways.
See, I don’t talk about these things. Ever. I want to pretend they don’t exist. When I know that someone, especially someone I love, has noticed them, I cringe internally, on a colossal scale. I kind of hold my breath, waiting on what I feel is the inevitable rest of the sentence: “How can I be with you/be your friend/be attracted to you/play with you/fuck you, when you have this glaring horrible thing?” So, when someone brings them up, I get defensive almost immediately.
I’ve been making other people pay for my insecurities, and paying for them again and again, myself.
So, I need to let it go. ALL of it. All the things about me that make me feel ugly, unlovable, undesirable. This may be the hardest thing I’ve ever felt compelled to write.
My feet are ugly. I have three toenails that grow really strangely, and callouses that I can’t keep away. I have scars on my legs, from the ankles to the tops of my thighs. Some are from insect bites and allergic reactions, some from childhood accidents. The worst is from a slip of the hand with an exacto knife. The most crazy-making ones are the ones on my upper, inner thighs, from ingrown hairs after I started shaving my hoo-ha, and some abuses I suffered at the hands of a boyfriend, in my teens. They may be a big part of the reason I’ve never been able to enjoy receiving oral sex. I have always said that I have thunder thighs, and they embarrass me.
My hands are scarred, as well, and seem far too wrinkly for my age, to me.
I have stretch marks on my hips, thighs, belly, breasts, and upper arms. LOADS of them. The silvery-pink shine of them is sometimes all I can see when I stand naked in front of a mirror. Some of them were actually splits in the skin, from my third pregnancy, which left scars. One of those looks like a C-section scar, but all of my babies were vaginal births. I have to explain this to medical professionals fairly often.
I weigh over 200 pounds. I’ve weighed more, in my lifetime, but not by much, and I hate it.
My ass is weirdly shaped, and peppered with cellulite. My tits sag far too much for my mental comfort. My back is slightly misaligned due to mild scoliosis.
Now, on to the really hard stuff, for me.
My face is covered in acne and acne scars. I hated my stepmother for swearing it would somehow magically disappear when I became an adult.
My teeth are not so great. I lived in poverty, with parents who didn’t give a damn, for most of my life. By the time I had the power to do anything about it on my own, the damage was done. I hate to catch myself smiling. I am SO afraid that people will see, and turn from me in disgust.
My nose has been broken twice.
My eyes don’t always look at the same place. I had crossed eyes when I was very small, and had surgery to correct that, cosmetically, but it seems to have lost its effectiveness, over the years. I DESPISE any photographs taken of me, when I am looking straight at the camera, because that’s when it’s the most noticeable. I won’t look at myself straight-on in the mirror, because one eye always moves away from the gaze. I hate making eye contact for more than a second or two.
My hair is frizzy as hell, no matter what I do to it, and has been nearly half grey since I was in my early twenties.
There it is. All my worst physical traits, in stark print. I’m kind of having a hard time breathing, right now.
I need to find the positive, though. It’s what I do, how I cope.
My feet and legs have taken me over some amazing territory, to meet amazing people, and do memorable things. They’ve allowed me to dance (not that I can, really), with joyful abandon in some very unusual situations. They wrap around my lovers quite nicely, and my scarred up thighs have yet to be an issue when they are squeezed against someone’s face as I buck into their tongue. My toes have wiggled and sunk into the wet, warm sand of the beach at low tide, and into the damp, cool grass of my front lawn at sunrise. I love my weird toes and scarred feet and legs.
My hands have brought pleasure to me, pleasure to my lovers, and pleasure to many other people, through the things they’ve written, typed, baked, painted, shaped, cleaned, and created. They’ve held and diapered and fed and bathed and nurtured and disciplined and comforted my children, and many others. They’ve stroked the skin of my lovers and the hair of hurting friends. They’ve held the hands of others when those people were having a hard time of it, and reached out to accept comfort from others when I was. They’ve prepared meals for family and friends. They’ve helped me make a home for my family, and keep things running when they threatened to fall apart. I love my scarred and wrinkly hands.
My stretch marks, mostly, are the result of pregnancy. I have never been more blessed than I was when these two beautiful people came into my life. Each and every stretch mark is like a road on a map that illustrates my journey into motherhood. They were earned. I love my stretch marks.
I weigh too much, sure. My squishyness has provided cushion for sleeping babies, weeping friends, exhausted lovers. I give good hugs, and a part of that is because I can envelope someone in warmth and love, from more than just my arms. I love my fat.
My ass provides a place for me to sit comfortably, and for some lovely sadistic types to make it difficult for me to do so. My sagging tits have nursed two infants, and were the only form of nourishment that one of them could digest, for a long time. They kept him alive. Maybe they’re not pert and perky, but my lovers haven’t seemed too bothered by that, when they are kneading the flesh in their hands, or beating them with a cane, or taking them into their mouths. All of those things turn me on, give me pleasure. I love my weirdly shaped ass and saggy tits.
My face has been turned into the sunlight, into the wind, into the rain and the snow, in moments of peace and happiness. It provides the first impression that helped bring so many wonderful people into my world. I love my pimply, scarred face.
My teeth help keep me nourished. They allow me to bite and scrape gently along the flesh of my lovers, sending little ripples of goosebumps that always make me smile. I’ve been told that my smile, when I show it, lights up a room. I love my screwed up teeth.
My nose may be kind of crooked, but it allows me to breathe in the most wonderful fragrances. The smell of a freshly bathed baby’s hair. The smell of the ocean from ten miles away, when I’m on my way to my favorite place. The smells of good food in my kitchen. The mingled smells of my body and my lover’s, after we’ve had a great time together. I love my crooked nose.
My eyes shine when I am happy. They let the tears flow when some strong emotion needs to be washed away. They let people see what I’m feeling, even when I try to hide it. They’ve shown me so much beauty and wonder. How could I not love my misaligned eyes?
My frizzy hair has been a curtain around my face when I needed to hide my emotion for survival. It has been something for friends and family and lovers to stroke and play with. It provides a handy grip when someone wants to drag me to them, and whisper-growl nasty, wonderful things into my ear. I earned every single grey hair by living my life to the fullest, and surviving things that may have killed or crippled others. I love my frizzy grey hair.
There’s my inventory, of me as I really am, instead of how I want you to see me. It may not be pretty, but it’s all a part of me being who I am, today.
Thanks to the brave person who inspired me to write this.