The past week I’ve read some thoughtful and thorough and engaging posts on bodies and body image and what we do with that at any one point. I haven’t anything really to offer by way of better insight. It’s not as cohesive in manner that’s for sure.
To be honest for most of my adult life I never thought much about my body. I had things I despised about it; the hate I put on myself, the hate bestowed upon it, the social discussion around it. But I didn’t do much with it. Shockingly even though I loved clothes, went to school for clothes, I had a very them and me delineation. I tried to always clean up nice. That’s what I was taught. But my physical shell, it just was. Which in the grand scheme is what it should be. It just is. But society doesn’t quite let it just be.
I have a lot that’s considered by social standards not attractive; at no point growing up did I fit into the 90s heroin chic. Now I don’t even try to imagine the current ideal of Kardashian is remotely attainable. Not that I think I would want to attain it. I think I’d just like to be worshiped for whatever it is I am at any point in time. Even if it is just a shell that houses my soul doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like it to be seen and respected.
I’ll return to that shortly but concurrently most of my body image is wrapped up in the body’s largest organ, our skin. Since I was a teen, I’ve had terrible rosacea. Horrible bouts of skin flare-ups that physically hurt on my face. And many years of doing everything and anything to not have it. If you want to talk about skincare hit me up, I have tried everything; every combo, almost every brand, and price point. All of it. I am a raconteur about washing one’s face.
Having rosacea and severe rosacea didn’t help a shy introvert. People saw your face first before they noticed anything else. I was constantly mortified. I truly felt bad that people had to look at me. I did my very best to hide. Behind my hair, by often always looking down and never making direct eye contact. I think a lot of people would feel I was just a real snooty person. I wasn’t. I promise. I didn’t want to look into someone else’s smiling and pretty face, male or female and they look back at someone, who, sure none of this is my fault, might seem unclean or dirty. Like my skin was telling secrets on me. Oh, deep down she’s a witch. It made me feel horrible most of the time. I just wanted to wash my face, dress my shell, and have none of it matter. While most certainly knowing it did matter.
Strangers and coworkers would ask what was wrong with my face, which would send me blushing on top of already being flushed. People meant well but if you ask someone what is wrong with their face, well, I mean, what they hear is, there IS something wrong with your face. I internalised all of that. I never brought it up to anyone because you’d get the requisite, don’t be silly. But it was real and I could feel it. I still feel it.
Bodies at the end of the day are a utilitarian vessel of souls. And the abuse we lay upon them, good and bad starts young. When we deny our body food, we deny it or exert it in exercise, when we deny it love we are denying ourselves realization and forgoing the nutrients of living to fit into a mold that never exists except in an advertisement. We commit grievous sins against what we will only get once, this skin, these hard of seeing eyes, this Mummy tummy, this short neck .. on and on it goes. The list against owning the body I have seems to be endless because the correlation between physical perfection and a spiritual or moral one seems to be the pinnacle of the human experience. It isn’t of course. Logically we all know that. And mostly what happens is we realise through active decisions and through others who love us hard, that we are all in top physical form, no matter that form at all, because holy shit, we get to be alive.
I am not my body and I am my body. We are a package. I have to think about my body to live, but I don’t have to let my body conform to what is unconformable. My body does not need to be ideal to be functional. To be loved. To be seen. It does just need to be allowed to be. Be this body and be whatever skin or lumps and rolls. Be.
My skin is better these days. I try to look people in the eye. I try to wear my hair up and not think about my non-Audrey Hepburn neck. I try to remain clean up spiffy but worry less about that tummy roll in those jeans. It’s work and not everyone is at the same place, and will willingly disregard your body because of their standards. That still sucks.
So, I am not an ideal. I am not even my own stupid brain’s ideal. But I do want to keep being here and to do that I accept what I’m given and what I can accomplish with that. Even when I can’t always reconcile the loathing I have for my body while still wanting to be found desirable.
My body is a vessel to give love away, to myself and to all the other bodies that house the once in a universe soul. So be your body and know your body and my body is not what anyone who cares for you or wants to care for you will ever really see. Our body is merely the lighthouse guiding souls to shore.