I have a lot of flaws.
I cover them up; I bleach them; I wax them; I pluck them; I pop them; I curl them; I paint them; I deny them. I do in many ways conform.
I don’t wear a lot of make-up, something in me is probably trying to quietly rebel, but I do still feel naked without it.
I feel very exposed and open to judgement when I don’t cover up those risqué bags under my eyes or those eye-popping spots on my face.
It is a feeling that’s similar the worry that you’re top is too low-cut/ not low-cut enough or your skirt too short/ not short enough. Which is strange given they are coming from opposite ends of the spectrum.
I guess what these feelings have in common is that they are both concerned with perfection. It’s the same embarrassment that comes with not meeting a specific standard.
And, my natural disposition for introversion probably doesn’t help me out here, either.
I don’t know if it’s the amount of time that I spend in my own head, but oftentimes my body just feels like this ill-fitting morph suit. I’m entirely within but not fully with myself, if that makes sense.
It’s like I’m curled up inside, afraid to reach out and push my arms and legs into the sleeves of my own skin. I feel like I’m a waddling, misshapen bean bag, socially awkward, just trying to stand normally, sit normally, smile normally, be normally.
However, I actually credit this discomfort for guiding me as a person.
It’s strange, but from a very young age I’ve always known this to be true: my body and what I do with it, what’s done to it, how it changes and how it will never change can never touch who I am as a person.
I try very hard to stop feelings of physical disappointment from transpiring into true self-loathing. I think that’s when you’re truly lost to the world.
That’s not to say I’ve never failed. I’m obviously human. But, I have risen from the ashes of self-destruction more than once.
A mild example: when I was a little girl, I had a bout of what I now know was trichotillomania.
I was gifted with a highly over-active imagination but, just to keep my ego in-check, I was equally cursed with a lot of irrationally driven anxiety as a child – and, admittedly as an adult. This resulted in me physically pulling my hair out and, in my case, this was from around my eyes and from my eyebrows to the point they were entirely bald.
I remember crying before a party at school because I couldn’t wear mascara like all the other girls were starting to.
I now have very short, very straight and very frail eyelashes which still grow in a bit patchy. It’s really not a huge deal, but I do feel very self-conscious if I haven’t curled them. Less feminine. More childlike.
That was a very exposing experience, particularly as I was so young – I think I was around eight years old.
Something from within me was being impulsively expressed to the world. It was the truest form of self-expression; it was something I couldn’t entirely control nor predict.
However, I’m certain that this strong link between my internal world and the external one helped me better understand what reality is. It’s a construct.
I was creating something physical out of a feeling. But who I was didn’t exist in the many missing eyelashes, I was in every pluck with which the hairs were pulled.
This was a compulsive behaviour, and compulsions are things that have to feel ‘just right’, perfect even, in order for them to cease.
The irony was that I was pulling my eyelashes out with some bizarre, indescribable, need to feel like I was doing it just right. For some reason my brain was finding perfection in self-destruction.
This link somehow taught me how to disconnect the physical realm from the internal one. I figured out that the world is just this web that catches pretty ideas like butterflies and bees, flower petals and grass, rain drops and sunlight, but it also tangles itself in flies, rubbish and dirt.
It’s like a strip of Velcro and we all just stick our thoughts to it, puzzle them together, create opposing pictures and gather in cults of preconceived ideas. Reality and the world we live in comes from within.
I started scavenging for my pieces in the web and brought them back fairly broken and bruised from the net that had ensnared them. It was then I realised that within me exists my very own tiny reality, which I can create away from the mess that lies outside.
That’s not to say I don’t still share my ideas or listen to others, of course, I just do so very selectively now. There are a lot of bad ideas out there, a lot of cruel beliefs, a lot of nasty minds, and I’m not interested in letting any of them into my little universe.
I’m happy that I know of this special patch of soil within the depths of my gooey, mine-field of a brain where I can grow anything without sunlight or water, without physical reality.
I think knowing of that power enlightened me to how we are all far bigger than our humble bodies let on.
The depth of a person means more to me than anything I can physically see. And, I’ve never met a single person who I’d say felt like a puddle.
People can be shallow in the way they look at others and the world, but people themselves, as selfish as they may be, are a bundle of wires, tangled in a unique way, barely keeping all strange systems go.
We can all find someone to look at in envy. We’re all convinced no one has it worse than us. However, when we start talking that’s when we realise that not only are we equally broken, but that we are also built to fix one another.
My dysfunction is your solution; what I’ve learnt from my pain might save you the trouble and vice versa.
However, I do think it’d be wise to drop all these old ideologies and unjustified prejudices.
We’re all held to these strange, uncomfortable standards, which no one has ever actually explained to us. We just go with it, because anything different will always be bashed back into a stereotype, boxed, labelled and shelved, and the adjectives marked on the tag are never as kind as they are to the norm.
I do have to push the female agenda here, because these days not even an inch of the female anatomy is free from scrutiny; the vagina is the holey grail of shame.
No one actually has a justifiable explanation for why women should shave everywhere but their heads, hide their periods and their sanitary products, be sexually available but only to a strict number of partners, and pretend like female masturbation either isn’t a thing at all or only ever exists in porn to please a man’s eyes.
Also, I find the way the appearance of female genitalia is joked about to be incredibly immature. Seriously, you’d think we shit out of our vaginas the way some men (and women) describe a regular, healthy female reproductive organ.
But, in all seriousness, this is a sickness and it’s contagious. Not liking the way we look can lead to not liking the way others look, and such foreshadows becoming cruel and nasty towards others just as we are cruel and nasty towards ourselves.
Bottling up our feelings in bodies that we spend each day actively rejecting creates a horrifying juxtaposition.
We refuse to admit how broken we are, and we’ll just keep cutting and re-stitching our own self-inflicted wounds until they become infected and lethal. The pain from within, just like those thoughts we build the world around, creates its own reality and becomes too physical to bear.
How can you help yourself if you don’t like yourself? Rare is a sympathetic hug from the enemy.
Not only should we be kind enough to offer an ear to those who are suffering, we must also be brave enough to accept one in return. Not only does telling your story out loud help you, it may also save someone else.
And, that’s quite simply why I wrote this post.
Mind, body and soul positivity knows no gender, race, religion, sexuality, label. Let’s allow our tears to water a new world rooted in love and kindness, acceptance and empathy, and maybe a little bit of peace and quiet.