If you don’t get all of your current events/happenings from Buzzfeed like myself, stop what you are doing, leave this blog post, and read up on all of the amazing content they are creating surrounding Body Positivity Week. Go. Now.
But like come back and read this in 10 minutes okay? Thanks.
After reading some of Buzzfeed’s articles and watching their videos focused around loving our bodies, I was inspired to awake from my blogging hibernation. And just like any blogger who’s hibernated all winter long, the impending doom that is “bikini season” is upon us all. Want to know the trick to surviving bikini season? Simply transform into a ginger-haired, translucent-skinned 2o-something who can’t leave the house from May-October without sunscreen on. Then you’ll never want or need to put on a bikini considering one of your questionable moles could become cancerous with it’s next encounter with the sun. When you’re lucky enough to be pale, there’s no need to parade around the beach in a swimsuit, because you’ll only end up with sand up your crack and a mild 2nd degree sunburn (S/O to SPF 100+).
But I’m not here to talk about the fact that a lady at a makeup counter told me the lightest shade of foundation powder was still too dark for my complexion. I’m here to address all of my body insecurities! More importantly, I am hoping that I can convince myself through the power of sarcasm and self-deprecation that these insecurities, and everybody’s insecurities, are complete and utter bullshit.
Growing up, the first insecurity I remember experiencing revolved around my skin. As I grew and developed, so did my skin’s hatred for me. I have had acne since the moment I hit middle school. I was even lucky enough to go through a phase of chest acne, because every budding 13 year old needs more awkward attention directed toward her budding chesticles.
Anyways back to acne. I also had back acne. I had a lot of acne. So, on top of the acne and translucent skin, their lives the freckles and moles. I had a hard time accepting my freckles when everyone was discovering liquid foundation in 8th grade. No matter how much I lathered on, the freckles refused to go unnoticed. They were screaming to be seen, similar to how I act at family functions (middle-child syndrome). Fast forward 6-7 years. I’m 20 years old and just finishing up my junior year of college when I find a spot on my arm that looks like a spider bite. I lived in a shitty 2 bedroom apartment that doubled as a motel for wayward spiders. On multiple occasions I had found spiders of no mean size in my bed, on my couch, lurking in the shower. Thinking the spot was the result of one of my many-legged house guests, I forgot about it. Until the spots kept showing up, even after I had moved out. I was later diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition called lymphomatoid papulosis or LyP for short. So now I was a PYT with LyP and extremely self-conscious. Despite my medication, I would get outbreaks when stressed or, more often than not, at random. The lesions cropped up on my arms and legs, which was no problem in the winter. Once summer rolled around, I tried to find creative ways to cover the spots and scars they leave behind.
Now, back to today. I am a 22-year-old ginger with translucent skin, adult acne and the occasional skin lesions (this is just the tip of the insecurity iceberg people). To combat these insecurities and to deflect people from pointing them out (fyi, everyone seems to love saying, “Oh my god, you’re so pale!” at any given chance aka everyone mainly means my naturally tan sister) I wear jeans well into summer and cardigans over tank tops to hide my arms. All because I don’t want people to point out the obvious. Which is a bit hypocritical because I love pointing out the obvious (hint: the title of this blog is literally just my name). My spots and freckles and pale skin are just as obvious as my red hair or blue/green eyes or my affinity for army-green clothing. All of these things are obvious parts of who I am so why try to hide some and not the others? Why be ashamed of what I can’t control? So little by little I challenge myself to step out from behind the layers of cardigans and scarves and unseasonably warm jeans. I bought tank tops the other day. To wear out. In public. Big moment. Huge! I may not be there yet, but I’m determined not to hide anymore.
And yes, like all women everywhere have been conditioned, I am self-conscious about my body. Growing up I was very active. I was a three-sport, mediocre athlete in high school. Instead of playing in games, I made up nicknames for the refs and yelled insults from the bench. My two favorites were Jafar and Dwight Eisenhower. Good people, horrible refs. I also danced and tumbled for 13 years. After going from 1-2 hours of exercise 5 days of week in high school to 1-2 hour of exercise every couple days in college (and an ice cream bar) I gained some weight. Nothing major or life-altering, but there it was. And there it has stayed. I know a lot of women who struggle with what seems like the same 5-10 pounds. You’ll lose it and then, before you know, it’s slowly crept back onto your body in the middle of the night.
I’ve lived with this Regina George mentality for so many years, always wanting to lose 5 more pounds. Then I’ll love my body. Then I’ll be confident enough meet people. Then I’ll be happy. But that is complete and utter bullshit. I always tell myself and the people I care about that they have to love themselves before they can fully love someone else. I stand by that mentality, I just haven’t been living it. I have been in love with my “future” body, my “5-10 lbs lighter” body. But if I can’t find value and worth in my body as it exists today, whose to say I’ll be satisfied if I do lose just 5 more pounds?
I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who let me take all of my inner-frustration out on her when I needed someone to blame. She deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for not letting me burn the house down in a fit of self-loathing. While she plays tough-loving mother by night, her day job as a physical therapist allowed her to teach me to love my body in a different way. Day in and day out she works with people, young and old, whose bodies do not cooperate or work in the way society deems normal. She made a point to remind me I was privileged to live inside a body that does exactly what I need it to. Activities as simple as walking, running, getting out of a chair or even showering are all abilities I take for granted. They are “necessities” to me, but to others who are differently abled they are luxuries. And in that sense I have a luxurious body and I live a luxurious life. When there are days I think my thighs rub together too much or the cellulite on my ass is obvious or my arms keep wiggling after I’ve stopped waving, I remind myself that I am so lucky to live in a fully functioning body. The rest is superficial nonsense.
Body Positivity Week may be coming to a close today but that doesn’t mean we sink back into the black hole of self-consciousness we emerged from. Just like you show your mother you love her every day and not just on Mother’s Day, we should encourage body positivity every week. Spread all of that body positivity on and out into the world!
If you liked this post, leave a comment about the ways you are learning to love your body and other topics you’d like me to write about.