I wrote this last spring for a creative assignment on body image in a peer led group I was involved with. Although some of my outlooks have changed, much of this still resonates and thought I would share.
When I hear the term “body image” I imagine Girl Scout Troop 2258. Cutting images out of magazines and my troop leaders empowering me to feel confident and beautiful.
So when I thought to what to write for this. I immediately went to physical beauty. I thought “well I don’t really like my fat face or I don’t like my bushy eyebrows.” But that’s not me being authentic because that’s not what occupies my mind.
My mind does occupy my mind but because of my life in my body.
My every day life occurrences are not me comparing my stomach to Lindsay Lohan’s. My every day occurrences are walking to the grocery store, making a stressful phone call, not speaking up at that meeting. Those are things I do in my body and ways I am seen in my body.
My body is in fact so wrapped up in my head and speech that I avoid the mirror. Sometimes I feel like I do not even know what I look like. I know my thoughts but I don’t know my appearance.
I appear in my body. I appear as a woman. And because of that appearance, I truly live in my body.
My body has judgement placed on it. My body is told it needs to be more vocal. My body is also told to stop talking. Talking is not sexy. My body is expected to give off a scent of affirmation and consent. It’s not that simple. For the mind and body I see as one.
My body is up against the world. Constantly up for negotiation, I am told others know my body better than me. I am told that smile was an invitation, maybe we should say “no” louder.
What experiences do I have in my body?
I’ve been told before that my “feminism has no place in this conversation.” That’s like telling me not to have feet for the day, that is the body I live in.
My experiences are molded by my body because we live in an interdependent world. A world where identity is a two-way street, how you place yourselves and where others place you.
I see myself but maybe more importantly in many ways you see me.
There’s a new Dove commercial, “you are more beautiful than you think.” I have no idea how I think of myself regarding my “beauty.” Am I suppose to know what I look like to a T? I’ve never understood the expression, “I know x like the back of my hand.” I don’t look at the back of my hand that much, I’m too busy looking around. I’m too caught up in our world and the experiences of bodies, bodies like mine, bodies not like mine.
When I truly think of body image, it’s more than sexiness and beauty. It’s what I own, it’s what I know, it’s my every move.