Because procrastination is one of my most frequent sins, I’ve enlisted external help. Often the most difficult part of this writing is starting. A while back one of my partners told me that while the waffly, meandering stream of consciousness thing was cute, I wrote much better with even the slight (because honesty was obviously her policy here) focus a topic gave me. So let’s try that. Today’s subject comes from my friend Writingexercises.co.uk who asks:
“What would you change about your body?”
I can’t imagine a time where my own body wouldn’t be relevant, but my pal Writingexercises.co.uk has some kind of inner sight, clearly. I’d been talking lately about this with people, so it’s been on my mind. See, I recently visited a nudist camp (because where better a place to go in winter) to support a friend’s theatre performance. I had no real issue being naked around other naked people. It took approximately minus two seconds to get comfortable in my own skin. There were folks of all shapes and sizes (one dude with the most impressive “outie” belly button I’d ever seen) and the experience was warm and welcoming. Everyone has different lumps and jiggly bits, that’s totally cool.
What I wasn’t really prepared for was seeing my reflection in a full body mirror. When I turned the lens on myself, those lumps and jiggly bits jumped out immediately. Something so easy to support in other people was a lot harder to accept when faced with my own image. Immediately my eyes scanned to all those parts I feel shame for. My stretch marks, the extra pudge at the side of my waist, the definition that isn’t there. Wouldn’t my arms look better bigger? The shape of my face bothers me. Have I ever not had bags under my eyes? I see blemishes and flaws that, while I knew they existed, I wish didn’t. Upon reflection the only thing I look at and like are my hair and eyes. My hair and eye game is right up there, the only things on a soft body that I actually want to be soft. I should see more indicators of my success. I’m a lot smaller than I was, In my mid-late 20s I look healthier than I have at any other time in my life. These things aren’t what I see when I look. While I’ve been told that I’m a decent enough looking dude enough times that I almost believe it, somehow it’s hard to separate that from this innate emotional rejection of my own body.
This is a fascinating article that’s been doing the social media rounds lately. Reading through it, I was drawn with a combination of disgust, envy and agreement. I could likely count more times I’ve made a snap decision to radically change my eating and fitness (and backed down a day later) than there are sheep in New Zealand. I see these images and think what a grotesque image driven society we live in, then I crave the validation that comes with being a sexually desirable male. The power of reinforced hypersexuality is such that I reject the value of this imagery on principle while subconsciously devouring it. I see people make unbelievable revolutions to their own physique and think what’s stopping me from doing that? Then hit my limitation right away. It’s called discipline, at least when applied to consumption.
This isn’t a new issue I’ve been dealing with. My whole life has been a constant struggle with my own self-image. Nonetheless, despite how it sounds,I think I’ve gained some ground since my move to Toronto. I’ve been considering buying a full body mirror for some time and I can’t think of a much better way to challenge these issues then to face them head on. Plus it gives me an excuse to visit IKEA.
But I didn’t really answer the question, did I? Dragon wings, a prehensile tail, camouflage skin, rapid cellular regeneration and negligible senescence.