Body Love: Z is for Zest
The A to Z challenge has taken me much longer to finish than I had expected. But I am not a quitter, so here I am with my last post for the challenge. I think that writing these 25 posts has helped me understand more about why I have such body love and body image issues and what specific things I need to do to feel better about myself. It has given me the zest (see, I found a z-word that describes what I want to talk about!) and motivation to actively try to work on a more positive body image.
I think for a long time I was convinced that my feelings and thoughts that I had about my body were the truth. They were aligned with what the general majority of people expect from bodies in terms of attractiveness after all. While I have always appreciated some of my body’s functions, I have simultaneously hated the way my body looked. My body is flexible and has gotten me through some really rough things. And I know that I am lucky to be able to have multiple orgasms and to squirt.
But there are also the illnesses that make life so very difficult for me. I sometimes feel like I am at war with my own body because I can’t even do the most basic things on some days. I know that the best way to handle chronic physical illness is acceptance, and to just go with the flow. Routines and self-care are important. And I have been doing that. But some days I am still extremely frustrated that the chronic fatigue syndrome and the Hashimoto’s make me tired, that the diabetes doesn’t allow me to eat pasta, or the PCOS giving me terrible PMS.
I think I like when I can actively do something without having to rely on health professionals. It makes me feel like I have some sort of control over what is happening. I have been able to get things back under control after a terrible IBS flare up. And I am now vegan as a result, have lost about 20 pounds and my blood glucose numbers are much better too. Physical chronic illness sucks, but the ability to make a change has empowered me to try to continue with the routines and to do better with self-care. I want to show my body love. I have mistreated it for many years, and it has been mistreated by others. It is time for a change.
The struggles with my physical health and acceptance are not as bad as the struggles I have with changing my body image. I am sure that that is related to many years of fatshaming and bullying that I had to endure during my childhood and my adolescence. My body was not okay. It was not accepted. It had to change in order to be allowed to be visible and be deemed attractive. The shape of my boobs, my weight, my Iranian facial structure. They were all wrong.
So I internalized those words and thoughts, and I started to hate my body. I hid it, I never dared to be naked with others. The shaming and bullying resulted in me hating myself. And they were not alone: everywhere in society you can still today see what sort of body is arousing, lovable, accepted. Young, slim, flat stomach, perky boobs, white. And that is not my body.
Funnily enough, that is not the sort of body type that I find attractive in others, if I now would primarily pick my partners based on looks. Which I don’t. So how come that I can see beauty in all sorts of bodies and would always find something wonderful about another person’s looks, but I can’t do that with myself? Why can’t I accept that there are people like me out there, who see beauty in everyone?
It is odd that I think I am the exception to that rule. It is a sort of cognitive dissonance that I have become more aware of when writing these posts about body love and body image. Logically, if I see beauty in everyone, and I accept that different people have different preference, surely, there must be beauty in me too, and there should be a fraction of people who would be attracted to me? Yes. That is the logical conclusion. And that conclusion stands against years of indoctrination with lies and hate.
It will take time for me to change my thinking and my feelings. I am realistic and I know that I will never be able to embrace every aspect of my body. My first goal is to change the language that I use and try to not judge. Instead of thinking: “I look fat in that dress” I could think “This doesn’t look very flattering.”. Or instead of thinking “No one would ever enjoy having sex with me”, I could turn that into “I feel like I am not attractive. That is my subjective emotion and not a general truth.” I think this is doable and something I can actively work on. And I have the zest and motivation to do so.
The reflections around body image have really helped me understand myself better. And they have given me the push to want to actively change the view I have of my body. I will need to question years of internalized body shaming, so I will need to do it step by step. I might be able to do this.
I am doing the A to Z challenge during the month of April (and apparently May and June too). My theme is Body Love. So you will get 26 posts from me, following the alphabet, related to the topic body love. You can check out more about the to A to Z challenge by clicking on the banner. You can find a list of sexbloggers participating in the challenge on Mrs Fever’s site.