self/image

I think of myself (mostly affectionately) as a big girl. I’m tall; I have a large frame; I’m pear-shaped; I’m in good physical shape. These are all clinical descriptors that strip my body down to its essence. They do nothing to describe my relationship to it, but I rely on these objective metrics when I’m grappling with my self-image. These are the facts, largely immutable, the truth about my body in its natural state. When I say “natural,” I’m speaking only for myself. So often, that word gets leveraged against women: Why do you wear so much makeup? You should just look natural. How can you eat fast food/diet food/food you didn’t grow yourself from heirloom seeds in your organic garden? It isn’t natural. I reject that kind of shaming bullshit, so when I talk about what’s natural, I mean what feels like the least struggle, the place where I feel most like myself. Natural means I’m neither starving myself into submission nor using food to numb myself and build a protective layer, both of which I’ve done in the past. I’m exercising regularly but not excessively, and only in ways I enjoy and that benefit my mental health. (Lifting weights and taking long walks, if you care.) I have a mostly balanced relationship with food–at least in action. My thoughts are a little more complicated. I still often feel like I have to earn pleasure, or make up for it afterward. But I no longer let that kind of thinking hold me prisoner, and that’s progress.

01

I’m telling you this because I believe in owning my shit, and it feels disingenuous to pretend that starting this blog and its companion Instagram account hasn’t been intensely uncomfortable for me. Despite my aforementioned progress, I am still capable of feeling deep shame and disgust about the way I look, particularly in pictures. It isn’t just about my body, either; there are times when I can’t stand to be confronted with the image of my own face, which has most often been described as interesting. And then I feel shame about my shame, because there’s yet another trap we as women have created for ourselves, in thinking that if we aren’t impervious to the messages with which we’re bombarded from day one–messages of thinness, deprivation, making ourselves smaller–that it’s some kind of weakness, that we’re not really empowered, or feminists, or worth listening to.

But the truth is messier, more complicated. The truth is that most days I look in the mirror and am proud of what I see, and two hours later I’ll scroll through Instagram, clocking how comparatively few likes a picture of me got. I’ll be convinced that what I see isn’t real, and that everyone else sees is a hideous, lumbering monster. A mean voice inside my head starts hissing, What did you expect? Who do you think you are? Nobody wants to hear what your weird-lookin’ ass thinks about style or anything else. Usually, I immediately remember who I am and tell that bitch to shove it, but sometimes I can hang out for awhile in whatever dark little hole she occupies and wallow in feeling ugly and unlovable. Regardless, both things are true: that bitch can shove it, but she also exists, and I don’t know how to banish her completely. So I have to forgive myself for that, too.

05

Now, let me be clear: I didn’t write this because I feel sorry for myself, or because I want anyone else to feel sorry for me. I wrote it because I don’t think I’m the only one. I wrote it because I don’t need to be told I’m pretty–I need to believe that, whether I’m pretty or not, there are many other things about me that are worthwhile, and that many of those things can be evident in the way I carry myself. And maybe you need that, too, so I’m telling you: you’re doing okay. You matter. And if you can’t believe the good about yourself, we’ll believe it for you until you can. That’s what this blog is about, after all. You might be sick of hearing it by now, but I’ll say it again anyway: we firmly believe that style isn’t about looking how you’re supposed to, but about looking like yourself. And whoever that is, the world needs her.

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So, in that spirit, I’ll keep rocking my weird tits in see-through shirts and dyeing my hair colors that draw attention to me, even though that attention makes me squirm. I’ll wear a full face of makeup to the grocery store and whatever else makes me feel good, because that’s its own kind of magic. And you know this witch believes in magic.

Be kind to yourselves, lovelies. C U Next Tuesday.

xoxo
TST

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