How do I feel about my body? What do I think of it? I’m impressed that it works, I guess. Considering the years of total…i was going to say ‘abuse’, but i’m not sure that’s appropriate. The years of total…unhealthiness I’ve subjected it to? Doesn’t have the same ring to it though. As I’m sure anyone reading this will understand, my answer to this question very quickly got very convoluted.
I grew up loving crisps and hating exercise. The older I got, the heavier I got, and the more unfit. The more unfit and heavy I was, the more I disliked exercise. This was down to two things: getting out of breath and sweat. I hated sweating. It’s not easy to describe, that humid, damp, sticky feeling. My limbs slid about on my body like parts of a loose hinge with too much oil. It was uncomfortable; I was ashamed and self-conscious. I felt dirty. Losing my breath to exertion was more severe but I minded it less. It would sting my throat to inhale so sharply, and I couldn’t help but notice the only other people gasping like me were the fat ones.
I was a fat one. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t really care. Of course I dreamt of six-pack abs and slimmer ankles and women swooning when I looked at them. Love. That’s what I wanted – I think it’s all I’ve ever wanted – and in my young impressionable mind, you had to be attractive to make someone fall in love with you. My unfortunately convenient way of avoiding confrontation with the reality of my body was my sexual orientation. I shielded myself from the idea that nobody loved me because I wasn’t attractive with the fact that I didn’t know any other women who liked women. I self harmed, I tormented myself, I convinced myself I’d never be loved or I lived happily in day dreams. None of this was rational; it was my life before the age of 16. Indeed, later diagnoses and treatments have attributed a lot of that behaviour to mental ill health (and of course, general teenage existential crises). But my heart felt much older, and lonely. Then for some reason – unplanned and welcome – I lost some weight. I still felt fat, but I grew into my body and started to think I looked alright, though forever insecure.
Puberty started at 10, followed closely by my period. That, I fucking hated. I still do. Menstruation is inconvenient! As a child I thought my hairy legs were cool – the tomboy I was enjoyed some subconscious perception of masculinity about them, perhaps. At 13 I shaved the words “arse” and “hell” in my hairy shins. Thug life. Then, at PE, I was so self-conscious that I hid them as much as I could. This is an awkward task in ‘shorts’ (aka granny pants in school colours), let me tell you. Oxters, I’m still haunted by the memory of what my armpit hair must’ve looked like at the swimming classes at 13 when I remember how long it was the first time I shaved. My minge fascinated me. I kept it trimmed but hairy. When the world told me that bald was best, I shaved it clean. I had tits. I can’t have been much older than 12 when the 9 year old son of family friends on a trip to the beach looked at me, bloated white cetacean, and proclaimed “NICE BOOBIES BY THE WAY!” to all and sundry. I pushed him in the sand and ran away to hide my hideous mammaries. He’s an accountant at a fairly major [read: evil] firm now.
My nice boobies were a bane from day one. Stretch marks on them from appearing seemingly overnight, having to either wear a bra (OH GOD NO! NOT A BRA?! I’M 11 FFS!) and risk being teased for maturing too fast or wear a cropped top which doesn’t support them and risk being teased for not wearing a bra. Basically there were some mean cunts at my school, but I guess they are/were everywhere. Then there was the mantra ‘big boobs don’t count if you’re fat’. WHAT?! SO ALL THIS IS FOR NOTHING?! YOU BASTARDS! Anyway, as a young androgynous lesbian growing up in a very white straight patriarchal middle class environment, I didn’t *want* big boobs. I didn’t *want* to be attractive to boys. I wanted to be attractive to girls. And what’s attractive to girls in that context? BOYS! I wanted to look like a boy so that girls would like me.
Sadly, things did not work that way. If you are a girl who likes girls and emulates traditional masculinities to try and attract girls, you don’t actually attract girls. You attract homophobia/transphobia/sexism/general shite. What did i think of myself? I don’t know. It’s impossible to know what I thought or would have thought autonomously because I still can’t untangle all those other people’s attitudes from mine. I’ve always resented – and still do – the association between me wearing chiefly non-traditionally-feminine attire and the whispers of ‘is that a boy or a girl?’. Not that it should matter; not that it’s any of their business, not that it should make a difference. Either i’m a boyish girl or a girlish boy in their eyes. Is one worse than the other? Depends on the observer, I guess. Mind you, I’ve reached a vaguely zen stage of quite genuine pathos for people who actually think that gender can be identified through such inconsequential factors as clothing, haircuts, hobbies, interests; a sad and blinkered existence.
Is there more to say? Yes; probably more than I could ever say, probably FTL;DR amounts.