The strangest thing happens to a lot of teenage girls. The notion that our body is ugly. It was a particularly tormented time for me and my skin showed the world what was going on in my mind. Hormones added to the quandry and I had terrible spots and pimples pushing out the toxicity of my system.
I always hated my body. One of my earliest memories of myself was thinking I was ugly. I don’t know how the initial thought got there because when look at very young pictures of myself, I certainly wasn’t ugly. But I equated everything wrong that happened to me was as a direct result of my ugliness. Such is the warped reasoning of a ultra sensitive child.
So my troubled thoughts through my teenage years saw me rebel in the most obedient way that I could – with clothes. I tried to look as boyish as I could because this body felt all wrong. I hid my skinny legs by wearing trousers. I would never dare show a hint of my very delayed cleavage. And I NEVER EVER bare my shoulders. There is a pet Afrikaans term I use for that obedient part of me- kloisterkoek. It doesn’t translate as well as cloister cake, but it became a part of my persona, one of the pure personalities that kept me ‘safe’ in my world.
But as I have aged and I think my running has helped calm the body angst, I have begun to marvel at this miracle of my physical machine. What a biological feast. And as my skin hatred eased, I realised that I still cringed at the thought of baring my shoulders. I have bought some vest tops due to global warming and the crazy Jozi temperatures. But I could never wear them ‘out in the world’ on their own. Now my excuse is- my angel wings sprouting under my arms.
I realised that I am still body shaming myself and not able to face the world in ‘limited’ clothing. I have consciously done a lot of physical things to get over my body loathing and putting selfies on Facebook was initially part of my ‘befriending me’ project. I’m fine with that now, but in various stages of undress?
I deliberately took a picture of me wearing a vest top complete with camouflage top and put the photo as my profile, to remind me that my WHOLE body is a miracle and without it, I wouldn’t be writing this.
I still squirm a little about certain things of my body, and I am beginning to ask ‘why?’ I wish us humans would get over the shame and into the respect of the marvel that we are. As SaRk, a favourite writer says… the bodacious body of succulence.
Time to celebrate!