Honestly it kind of freaks me out to be saying anything at all. However, a link shared with me by a friend (a photography project focused on body image and identity) made me think about it a lot. My body. I am, generally speaking, not a fan. Being the sick kid a lot meant constantly having to deal with my physical self in the context of fighting something defective, diseased, and weak. When I was nine I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed with a pretty serious case of depression (later re-diagnosed as manic depressive) shortly after that. I went from being an abnormally healthy little kid who spent all of my time running around outside and exploring to a cripplingly self conscious teenager. Chubby from a mix of medication side effects and a mother so anti-body image that instead of promoting healthy habits (which apparently are just society judging you *eyeroll*) it was never mentioned when the latest failed attempt at finding an antidepressant that worked made me crave junk food and gain another few pounds binging (pretending a problem doesn’t exist is not known for being a healthy solution). I was often tired and in pain due to said depression and endless medications. I was a mess due to the fact that unlike all of the other kids TRYING to be cool, I really didn’t care how I dressed or put any effort into my appearance (I spent most of my young adult life looking like a female version of Kurt Cobain). My first boyfriend definitely made it clear he desired me, but he also constantly talked about how amazingly hot other girls (who never looked anything like me) were and pointed out flaws I hadn’t thought to add to my list of things I hated about me on my own. After seven years of that I figured I was the best he could do and that he had settled. Pile on top of that the additional damage and residual symptoms from three years of undiagnosed Lymes disease and it’s no wonder that I generally think of my body as an ugly weight rather than an important part of me.
Things have improved. I’m physically recovered enough to go back to the woods. I never feel more powerful and pretty then when I can fight my way to the top of a mountain and look down and know that my legs got me there and while my lungs and knees might hurt a bit, they work now. I am not in pain so much that I have to disconnect from myself and I am learning to feel more in control and trust my body to not fall or break all the time. I’m taking belly dance classes, something that if you told me I’d be doing last year I’d have laughed in your face. I have a friend who tells me I’m beautiful and is convincing enough that I sometimes believe him. I still look at other people and think “I wish I could have that body/strength/energy, just for a week to know what it’s like”. I still fight with my sicknesses, and have days where I hurt and am exhausted. I worry about how things will be as I get older. I still don’t love my body, but I’m starting to think that we could be friends.
I looked through these photographs of women for a long time and I thought they were so beautiful. Few of them would ever be considered for commercial modeling, some are older or scarred or tattooed. They have lived and their bodies show it. If you took my picture and added it to this gallery I would not stand out. That simple idea made me so happy when it popped into my head. I’m not average, or “normal” or like everyone else, but I’m not a freak.
Check it out. Maybe you fit in here too. 🙂