There is a whole army of people telling me to hate my body.
Their words taunt and mock, they dance across magazine covers, on the lips of jilted lovers and most jarringly on my own tongue when I stare my reflection in the face.
When self love is discussed in the realm of my own mind it is paired with conditions. You can start truly loving yourself when you lose 15 pounds. You can start truly loving yourself once you clear up the zits on your chin. You can start truly loving yourself when you tame your eyebrows. I’ve had many a tearful night where in between gut-wrenching sobs I’ve exclaimed “I’m not pretty so I’m not important!” Friends have stroked my hair and told me, you’re beautiful on the inside and that’s what matters. And all my cynical brain heard from that reassurance was you’re not pretty at all but it’s okay!
In the past I have tried out words like “beautiful” and “sexy” as self-descriptors. Each time I felt like I was disobeying a dogma set before me since birth, a predestined rule book that every woman receives. Don’t use these words when discussing yourself. Believe that you are constantly in need of improvement. Accept these words demurely from others but unless you fit into the cookie cutter mold of beauty don’t lay claim to these adjectives.
When I spoke the sentence “you are beautiful and sexy and you have worth that extends beyond your appearance” to my mirror the words felt clumsy on my tongue and my own eyes danced mockingly- as if to suggest that I knew better than to delude myself.
It made me wonder, how long have I been my own worst enemy?
Memories of pitch black rooms and clothes hurriedly thrown on after sex came to mind. Memories of arms wrapped securely around my stomach when I sat down so people wouldn’t see any rolls. Memories of baggy sweaters that would hide any shape I possessed so people would be kept guessing.
Society introduced the ideas, but it’s me who breathed life into the dialogue all these years.
It’s me who told myself it would be unacceptable to think of my body as beautiful. It’s me who looks at pictures of myself taken by others and mutters “I look disgusting”. It’s me who is the greatest bully of all.
Today I stood nude in front of my mirror.
I stretched my arms above my head, inhaled and exhaled. I drank the sight of my form in and with a clear mind I offered myself an admiration usually reserved for taking in the sight of another. I looked at my skin, my bones, my excess, my lack, my freckles, my scars, my tan-lines, and I mindfully called myself beautiful. Sexy. Worthy.
I control the narrative here, and I’m choosing to think of myself as a smoldering, beautiful heroine, who’s appeal comes tucked in folds and weaved in messy curls. Someone who’s strength shines through irises, who’s wit is hidden in the twist of her lips.
And frankly, that’s all I need. The opinions of others are pointless, they don’t know me as well as I know myself and they’re unqualified to be doling out descriptors of a person they’re not entirely familiar with.
This is my new ritual- being naked as often as possible and apologizing to my body for years of hate. Embracing myself at this stage instead of acting like I’m a work-in-progress.
Who knew that the answer lies in nudity?
until next time,