I think it’s happened. I think I actually love and accept the way I look. Like, unequivocally. And I’m kind of in shock over here because I’ve never felt this before. I thought I had but I was wrong...this is different. I accepted my body the way you accept your past. You accept because it's yours, has shaped your life, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. And that was my body. That was my face. I worked hard - every moment of every fucking day - to accept my appearance.
Now I actually have pictures that I like. Pictures in which I can say, with zero hesitation, that I like the way I look. Do you know how huge that is?!?!? I look at pictures of myself and think OH MY GOD I'M FUCKING ADORABLE!
It's not because I like the way I look now more than before; I look at the pictures from the past and see nothing bad. I don't see someone ugly and I don't see someone whose body incites shame.
Pictures were always the enemy because they made me face the truth. Pictures made me realize over and over again that I was bigger than I thought I was...uglier than I thought I was. I avoided them. There are nearly no pictures of me from childhood to my mid-20s. And even when pictures were taken, I tossed as many as I could, keeping a few here and there because I was with a friend or I wanted to show the interwebs my hair. I look at these pictures and see my body sliced up, cropping out upper arms and bellies; wanting so fucking hard to disappear.
I tried so hard to be okay with pictures of myself. I told myself over and over, you want these memories, why are you giving them away simply because you’re fat? Why is something as unimportant as the way you look making you lose important moments? I told myself it didn't matter if I was ugly or gross or wholly unappealing; even if I were those things, I'd still deserve to be treated well...by myself and others. Sometimes I could even see someone pretty in myself and those were awesome moments. Moments I had thought I'd never experience.
I just now looked for pictures of me between my childhood and my mid-20s. At which point I realized that mid-20s wasn’t even accurate.
10ish years old through my 27th birthday: 28 pictures. 17 years and I have 28 pictures. Concerts and clubs, aimless drives and adventures...so many things I have no tangible proof of. So many memories I no longer have.
Because my self loathing was bigger than my desire to document the most joyous and important parts of my life.
I look at these pictures and I see a fat girl who has nothing to apologize for. But that’s not all I get from them. I remember the moments those pictures were taken and the people I was with. I remember laughter and silliness and love. And I wonder how many memories I lost by ripping up or deleting photos because I couldn’t stand to look at myself. Because I couldn't handle the reality of my existence.
Because my self loathing meant more than that moment.
(It was 6/6/06.)
I worked hard to look in the mirror and not hate what I saw there. Reaching that point was a life changer and it took a lot of work to get to that. But lately things have been different. I began to notice that I actually liked some pictures of myself. I was no longer looking at myself with neutrality; I began to see myself as hot/cute/sexy/adorable in them. My self esteem has slowly evolved.
Over the last few years I've been working so hard to normalize my body to myself. Even more so in last and this year. Allowing pictures to be taken of me when I'm half undressed, my fat exposed. Pictures and videos of me fucking and coming. Pictures of myself after a good, hard beating. Pictures of myself in my underwear and pictures of me without it. Pictures of myself that hide nothing and that I don't crop myself thinner in. Since moving here I've forced myself to keep a lot of pictures I would have trashed in the past because I was in profile or because my upper arms showed or because my stomach was too visible or because my double chin was prevalent or because I just looked huge and/or ugly.
It started slowly. I'd look at a picture of me and actually like it. That had been so rare in the past that the feeling of acceptance surprised me. More pictures were taken and then I realized...I genuinely liked all of them. I liked looking at myself.
You stare at yourself long enough and you suddenly realize this is you. Fat upper arms, double chin, lumpy belly, sagging tits, the way you look in profile... And all you can fucking do is be okay with it. Because the other option has become unacceptable. 35 years of hating yourself to one degree or another has done nothing but destroy you. But looking at a picture of yourself and thinking, hey, I can see why people think I'm cute...
What society has told me I am is wrong. What society has told me about my appearance is wrong. Society is wrong. And I will no longer rip myself to shreds based solely on the hateful thinking of a society that does all it can to destroy me. That is a decision that will change everything.
I thought neutrality was the best I could hope for and that neutrality saved me. I'd hated myself for so long that I didn't think I could stop. The first step was that neutrality. Not loving the way I looked but, at least, not hating it. I never expected more. I never knew I could take a step beyond neutral into true acceptance and love. I spent so long trying to like what I saw and suddenly...I don't have to try anymore. And that is fucking amazing.