“When I was growing up, I always felt a little heartbroken.”

*Trigger warning for self-harm*

When I was growing up, I always felt a little heartbroken.

I think it started at school, when I was the girl in the game of ‘spin the bottle’ that no one ever wanted to kiss. I still remember when one of my classmates (who I kinda fancied) asked everyone why they were punishing him when he got a dare of having to give me a peck on the cheek. I never played ‘spin the bottle’ again. After all, why would I make anyone subject themselves to the torture of touching repulsive me.

I was never picked to be at the front in the class photos and always got picked last in PE. Not that it really upsets me now. I never liked sports, playing basketball was like the 7th layer of hell…Yeah, I was an awkward teenager, with loads of acne and an inability to stand up for myself. And thanks to other kids/teenagers in school, I’ve learnt to be really, really cruel to myself.

At the age of 14 not only did I let other people mentally hurt me, I started physically hurting myself. For a few years, cutting was the only way to feel. I even used to carry a razor blade under the cover of my phone in case things got ‘too much’ at school. And all the time I was injuring myself, I felt like I deserved it. Each scar on my arm was for some special reason. My ‘ugly’ nose. My ‘ugly’ eyes. My ‘ugly’ hair. My ‘ugly’ legs. I even went to extremes of thinking that my toes were really hideous because, I thought, I had abnormally small toe nails.

I must’ve been really out of luck, because when I got my first boyfriend (at that point it seemed like a miracle that anyone would ever use their time to spend with me), the nicest thing he ever said was, ‘You’re not the ugliest girlfriend I ever had’.

See? I hope now you understand why I was so heartbroken all the time.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all shit. By the time I was 16, I became the cool depressed goth kid. And that landed me with the young Kurt Cobain-looking boyfriend. The one that all the girls wanted. It’s funny, because up to this day I still want to hold up my middle fingers at every girl who bullied me and shout “Fuck you, bitches, the hot guy thinks I’m hot!”.

In ideal world I should never have suffered what I suffered, or worst of all, thought it was my own fault. But this is not an ideal world and I’m making the best of it. I slowly started building my confidence again. I kissed a lot of boys. I kissed a lot of girls. Learnt that I’m not that ugly at all. Now I’m 22 and do nude life modelling to make extra cash. And sure, I still get my heartbroken days, when my lumps and bumps seem too lumpy and bumpy and my toenails just seem too small, but at least now I have the resilience to say ‘fuck it all’, put a pair of heels on and maybe flash somebody at the pub.

“Since I stopped reading any women’s magazines about 6 months ago my self esteem and confidence has shot through the roof … Stop reading them for your own sake!”

I’ve learned to like every little and every big bit of my body by making my body look mad. I have bright pink hair, I’m pierced, I’m tattooed, I draw my eyebrows on so that they’re huge, and I make myself laugh. I’m an art student, so I use my body in my art, whether it’s dot-to-dotting all of my freckles or photographing myself, it’s always done with naked humour.

I really fervently disliked my body and my self from the age of about 11 to pretty much a couple of months ago. I was tall and gangly yet somehow wobbly and pudgey which translated into FAT. My “pudge” was actually skin, some puppy fat, and then some normal fat. Going from a size 8 when I was 12 to a size 12-14 when I was 16 was actually just growing and being a healthy size for a woman of 6ft. My “blotchy skin” was actually just a collection of freckles which are now a collection of summer days out with my mum. It took me a long time to realise that though.

I think things changed when I started laughing at the way I look, and started having fun. Ridiculous, ugly, charity shop clothes ahoy! This was at the same time as having hair of every colour in the rainbow. For me, it’s a relief to look different to the women in Cosmo, it takes the pressure off, and it allows ME.

Another big change was not filling my head with magazine gumf. Since I stopped reading any women’s magazines about 6 months ago my self esteem and confidence has shot through the roof. They’re legitimately bad for us! They pedal us lies and make us feel bad! Stop reading them for your own sake!

Another big change was when I started seeing my body as art. I life modelled for the first time when I was 17, was so nervous that I threw up, but then when it was done and I saw people’s drawings of me, I was elated. Some beautiful things had been made- out of MY BODY! My body was fine art! And that was so empowering. Because, I didn’t look like Rose in Titanic, I looked my wobbly, not big enough to be curvy but there’s still slight curves there self. And that was great.

Since then, I’ve become an intermedia student rather than a painter, and this has opened so many doors for me. My last three projects have used my naked body. And I always get great responses, not for how my body looks, but what my body is saying. And that to me is the best thing-

My body works (for the most part), it doesn’t matter all that much in the end if it looks nice, because for me, it’s a vessel for my voice. What I’m saying, what I’m shouting, what I’m singing, what I’m signing, what I’m making art on, what I’m writing, what the way I look is saying, the list goes on and on- none of this would be possible if it weren’t for my body.

Using my body as a support and as a canvas, for hair dye and ink and metal, for shouting and protests and growing my pit hair- that’s why I love it.

by reclaimthecunt