Thursday, 26 April 2018

Body (in)security.

The road to body positivity and self-love isn't a smooth one. Recovery is not linear. We are our own worst critics. When you hate what you see before you, remember how far you've come and how much you've left behind you. 

I go through phases of disliking all the little parts of me. Then a little while (sometimes, mere hours) later, I love myself and my body so hard, it almost hurts. 

(Photo: Erin Veness)

I hate how broad I am across my ribs. From the front I look fairly slim, my waist nips in beautifully and I love love love that - but from the side, I'm big. Awkwardly so.


I've decorated my ribs a little over the years, with words and flowers. I love breathing in deeply, placing my hands just at the bottom of the rib cage, and feeling my lungs inflate and the bones holding them in; strong, almost impenetrable. Almost.


*


The first time I undressed for – with – someone after my recent surgeries, all I could think as I let my dress be pulled over my head was 'oh god, they'll see it. They'll see the big red ugliness'. But I didn't make it obvious just how self-conscious that strip of mottled skin and bright, raised staple marks made me. 


He kissed all down the scar, unprompted, after I told him it was 'a new one'. Wanted to hear the story. I poked at the hard chubbiness that protrudes either side of the shiny line, and my hand was immediately covered by another. A thumb brushed it gently, kindly. And suddenly, the blip of self-consciousness had passed, and I loved it again. 

*


I selected three swimsuits off the rail; bright red, different styles, one size 12 and the other two 14. You never know – and I find I vary in size depending on the store. It's f*cking annoying. Means I can never order online. 
As I unhook the somewhat spicy red piece, the one with the cleavage area cut out and the back swooping low, I feel eyes on me from all sides. I look to my left and notice some teen girls peering down at me as I squat low to reach the back of the bottom rail. It's so demeaning, always making the taller and 'bigger' people reach further back than the more petite humans...
I finally find the size 14 and turn towards the onlookers as I stand up and head for the fitting rooms. They look me up and down, sipping thoughtfully on their iced mochas, their thighs miles apart and eyeliner absolutely on point. Smirks, pouts. Nostrils flare. I stick my chin out and roll my eyes...when really, I feel like crying. 


In the thankfully flattering light of the dressing room, I stare at myself in the massive mirror. The warm red of the skimpy suit is wrong for my skin tone, but I am enjoying the brightness of it. My collar bones are brown, freckled slightly; I think they'll always be my favourite feature. My eyes have luminous rings in them, it's a trick of the light. My legs look f*cking incredible. I shake them a little, let them wobble in my reflection. I run my hands across my stomach, broad but perfectly taut under the lycra. Suddenly I become aware of the trashy auto-tuned pop music playing in the store, and I start to dance. I smile at myself; my legs, my tummy, my chest and my butt. I wiggle and jiggle all over the place. I'm celebrating myself. 

I'm a total BABE. 

(Photo: Erin Veness)


I hate my skin sometimes. Not because of the marks; the scars that prove my strength and the stretched silvery slivers that show how I've grown...but because often it's mistaken as idiocy, and nastiness. It is the colour of mass ignorance, and hideous scores of privilege. 

I love my skin, because it's ghostly pale 99.9% of the time which suits me just fine, but then when it turns brown it's stunning. I forget how healthy I look when I am kissed all over by the sun. 
I try and work with my skin, now; I'm learning to be an ally, to use my colouring for good. 

*


I greet the senior manager at work, and subtly make sure I'm appropriately dressed for the occasion. I tug at my skirt and then shrug off my cardigan; it's warming up considerably in the shop. As I fold the grey wool and stuff it into the unofficial 'staff shelf' beneath the till, I catch the AM quietly flicking her eyes up and down me. I raise my eyebrows when her eyes meet mine, but instead of looking away - as many creeping individuals do, in public - she says "you have tattoos?" 


   It's a question, but I can't exactly deny it. "Yes, I do!" I reply, enthusiastically. 
   "It's funny," AM says, "I wouldn't have you pegged as a...well, you seem too...nice? Haha."
   I'm fighting the urge to roll my eyes. "Ha." 


"My inkings are me, totally and completely," I say to her, curtly, in my head. "I decorate my body as I wish; it's been through a lot and really, it's the least I can do to treat it to some beautiful artwork. And that's not even the main reason I do it - I get tattoos as an act of reclamation. I am taking back what's mine. If you don't respect that, or 'get' it, then piss off."

*


(Photo: Erin Veness)

*

When I lost weight recently (nil by mouth Surgical Assessment Ward diet – do not recommend it), I realised that it all goes from my arms, my shoulders and my butt – areas I don't really feel I need to lose anything from. I kept the heaviness on my hips and the soft swell of my stomach. I could still see lumps of cellulite at the backs of my thighs – barely noticeable, to all but me, of course. I missed my butt the most. The sudden flatness upset me more than I ever thought it could. I’d hug myself every day, embracing my health and my changes, but I knew I needed my old self back. 


When I wear high-waisted jeans, I look f*cking incredible. The flat-ish top of my bum is smoothed out and what little pertness it possesses is highlighted and lifted beautifully by the right pair of pants. My ex used to deliberately walk a little way behind me sometimes, 'to get a nice view'. I'd roll my eyes when he said this, but it made me, quietly, quite happy. 


The other day, when I was right in the midst of a butt-lack crisis, I reminded myself that back in secondary school, all the girls wanted a skinny, invisible arse that was about the sizeand thicknessof a Geography exercise book. The girls who needed bras at age 12 and wore the largest size tights to fit their curves into were teased and mocked. But much like me being picked on for my thick, dark eyebrowsit all comes around. Trends are fleeting, and any size of any body or appendage can be utterly beautiful. There's no such thing as normal, and we are all our own definition of perfect. 

*



(Photo: Erin Veness)


I squeeze spots. I scratch at insect bites. I tweeze out ingrown hairs. I obsess over eye bags. I bite the skin on my fingers. I pull off thick licks of nail polish.


I stare at myself in just my pants, some days for ages before getting dressed.

I began to look my best, when I stopped caring how others saw me.


(Photo: Erin Veness)

*

'I ain't worried about the wrinkles around my smile,
I've got some scars, I've been around,
I've thrown some pain, I've seen some things,
but I'm here now.'

Macklemore, 'Good Old Days'.

*

5 comments

  1. This was such a gorgeous piece of writing, Grace. As beautiful and as vulnerable as you. I feel very privileged. x

    ReplyDelete
  2. amazing post!
    We all have this love-hate relationship with our body I think - and it is quite healthy to the mind to be balanced in our thoughts of ourselves.

    You write really well :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree. Thank you so much for reading xo

      Delete
  3. Grace, you are beautiful inside and out. It doesn't matter if you feel it all the time (really, who does?), the people closest to you know it always.

    ReplyDelete

© Almost Amazing Grace.. Design by Fearne.