Friday, July 1, 2011

This Is What I Look Like

I hate my body.

For some reason in the last 12 hours I seem to have been continually confronted with this fact. I like to write, I like to be creative and I like to express myself comically and ridiculously - I'm kind of OK with myself. But every now and again I look at someone whose body seems to do the talking for them and I am so jealous it hurts.

I spent 6 hours in TopShop this morning watching people with edgy haircuts and fleshless limbs trying on outfits that were laughable on the hanger. Scrappy bits of awful material with elastic where there shouldn't have been elastic and gaps in the clothes where there certainly should have been more cloth. Suddenly, when the hordes of Oxford Street women were in them, the clothes looked right, and the people in them looked even more maddeningly right.

It's never upset me before. It shouldn't have upset me today. I am a jeans and a t shirt sort of a girl. I like simple, I like classic, I like baggy. But every once in a while I would like to turn heads the way these girls did. I don't want to wear hotpants, but I'd like to be able to.

I've always had a problem with my body - I've always hated the way it looked and I increasingly despise the way it is falling apart. I've always thought I would like to just exist without a body - just be able to be my personality without having to back it up courtesy of a dumpy, fraying collection of mismatched body parts. I've always felt a strong sense of detachment to anything below my neck - my face and my brain are mine, my body is like an alien addition to who I see as me. I'm fairly certain I'm not the only person who can have ever felt this way, but I've never really heard anyone talk about it.

Last night I had a drink with someone who told me I was beautiful.

For me, this is excruciatingly awkward - I do not believe I'm beautiful and hearing someone say it makes me more upset than pleased. I feel like a disappointment, the thought process tends to be - "No, I'm not. They'll be very annoyed/disappointed when they realise what I actually look like." Waiting to be found out is a running theme in my personal batch of insecurities. So, last night I voiced my lack of agreement with his sentiment and his reply completely caught me off guard, he said;

"Of course you know you're fit... you couldn't be as confident as you are if you didn't."

This idea has not stopped worrying me since the idea was put out there. Is that how people think I come across? Do I seem like someone who is so wholly convinced of their own attractiveness that it becomes a feature of their personality?

My confidence has developed as a consequence of becoming happy with who I am in terms of my actions. I'm not a self-deprecating joker, I worry it sounds like digging, so I joke and interact without inhibitions - why point out flaws that you're hoping people won't notice?

I generally have a strong and positive approach to achievement. The more I've worked towards anything I want, the more I've realised that I can have things if I'm willing to try. This, for me, brings a sense of security in my capability. My capability defines who I am - I am what I am capable of. I have confidence.

But physically...? I'm not there.

I have spent the last 8 years of my life systematically destroying my body through eating disorders and lack of confidence in how I look. I've never written about it before - it's always been something I've been embarrassed and ashamed of. I've never wanted to be defined by something that I haven't learnt to control. I'm scared that once people know that about me, it's not something that's easily forgotten. I have spent far too long building up the person I want to be to let it be overshadowed by a very minor part of my personality.

So why talk about it?

I suppose because we should. Because, if I'm not willing to talk about it (when I spend half my life talking about anything and everything else) then I'm perpetuating the talking in code that people do about their bodies. If 15 year old me had just admitted that she hated her body and been shown how to fix it, instead of pretending everything was fine and breaking it in the process of trying to be perfect, then it would have saved a hell of a lot of mess. Granted, I wouldn't have any of the (truly stunning) IBS jokes I now have... but I also would be able to eat fresh fruit without wincing.

What's your point whiny face? My point... yes, I'm supposed to have a point at the end of this self-indulgent horribly badly thought out post. I suppose my point is... I still haven't learnt anything. I'm still looking at these angels in TopShop and assuming they're perfect and happy, the same way my friend thought about me. I still measure my satisfaction in my own body against how much I like someone else's instead of just seeing whether my body has done its job of being a body.

We may return to this subject when I have either;
a) Got a point.
b) Learnt something.
c) Thought of some jokes on the subject so that it is funny. Everybody loves funny...

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