I used to step out of the shower and immediately begin picking at my body. The body that's mine, that's grown with me, the one that has weathered storms of heartache and sorrow. The body that has helped me, the body that has healed me, the body that I've torn apart, time and time again. The body I'm looked at in different angles as I pinched and pulled my skin. I pulled at my thighs and ran the tips of my fingers along those thick white lines that stretch across various parts of my body. I remember how my breathing got short after waking up one morning and noticing them for the first time. An isolating moment that filled me with a feeling I never realized I had before - hatred for my own body.
I thought about when I was a child and never wondering what was considered beautiful. No one close to me ever commenting on my weight or figure or what I was eating or any degree of beauty. Even now when I discuss personal weight, there is no discussion that goes further than I love you, you're beautiful, you're enough, you're alive - that's enough. Any mention of weight is scoffed at because it meant nothing back then. Even during my youngest years at school, much wasn't said to me about weight. We were who we were and that was enough - until we all got older and started realizing differences between us and all began realizing what was the ideal version of beauty. Even then I hardly compared myself to others. It wasn't until later that I realized how my body and everything that was made up for it was going to be a topic of discussion, just like many other girls.
I remember a boy in my grade 10 math class commenting on my thighs and their size. I can barely remember his name but I can bring myself back to that moment in the room and where we were sitting in an instant. I can hear his voice in my mind with his ridiculous comment that was too much for a 15 year old to hear. I remember him snickering and someone else telling him off about his comment. He said he was joking but the damage was already done. Even with the size of my thighs being too big for this person, I remember how small I felt in that moment. In an instant, all of those years of being a child without a care disappeared. I began looking at my body with eyes full of hatred instead of eyes of love.
During my breakup I commented on my weight and how I know it was fluctuating with the stress of school and life. I went even further and said, I know it's hard to love me when I'm like this, as if my body and what makes up my body wasn't enough to just be loved as it was. The fact that I thought and vocalized that burns me to this day. I was enough just as I was. I want to hug myself in that moment. She believed that how she looked was tied to how much love she deserved and that was so, so wrong for her to believe.
It wasn't until a few years later with my legs stretched out on the bathroom floor that I was reminded of how my body has carried me through it all. I was still grabbing and poking and pulling my skin and wishing it away, but it's when my fingers are running along my skin that I have a small revelation. I reach a small mark that I've had all of my life; it's invisible to anyone else's eyes but my own. But it's there, placed right on the body part that was deemed too big for that boy in my grade 10 math class. Even with all of the white lines that it sits on, the mark takes the shape of a heart. A heart - right on the thing that I hate most about myself. A reminder to love myself even when it's hardest. A reminder that my body is here for me - it's not a topic of discussion, it's not something that exists to please anyone, it doesn't need to be small or lean or tall or any other idealized traits. It can be just as it is - mine.
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