So far all my blog posts have been rather political or idealistic with very little information that is personal, but not this posy. This post is about body image, body loathing and body changing in others and in myself.
Everyone has two looks; the way they WANT to look, and the way they actually look. Usually the way a person wants to look is based on how society wants them to look because of race, gender, age, location, sexuality or whatever other stupid groups that one can be grouped by. I wish I could say knowing and hating this fact made me immune to it, but it doesn’t. I know how I want to look and I look in the mirror and see only little bits of it, sometimes, if I look hard enough and I’m in a good mood. Mostly I see fat, scars and acne, all things that logically I know have a reason for being there. Logically I know that I am a healthy weight, that acne break outs are a part of growing up and that my scars are monuments to how much pain I survived to get here… But logic plays no part in your feelings.
I know many people who spend hours of thought a day policing what they eat, caloric intake/output, but I can’t do that so instead I spend hours of thought a day SHAMING myself for my food choices. “You ate too much Duo, now you’ll never get thin!” or the nice voice “Did you really need that cookie Duo? You could have just eaten another carrot if you were that hungry.” I spend time debating whether or not to eat (my stomach always wins) and if something makes me skip a meal I’m proud of myself. And then when my head is clear from emotional, body hating voices and words for just a moment another set of words comes along; “Now you’re just like any other teenager Duo, why can’t you be BETTER than the teens that worry about their looks?” so I just cannot win. I get to be ashamed of my shame.
My ideal body may not be the one I would be assigned based on race, age, location or sex at birth but it is a product of media and societal ideals of beauty and sexuality. I want to be skinny, with bigger muscles, slight abs and clear skin. I want to wear crisp white button up shirts and jeans or black slacks with a long black overcoat decorated with chains topped with some kind of dapper cap or dashing hat. Instead I wear jeans and baggy t-shirts (and some form of fancy headwear) to hide the body parts I hate.
I am not the only person in, what seems like, an everlasting internal battle with myself over my body image, but I may well be the only person who never sees someone like themselves portrayed as someone who may have self image issues. It’s almost always girls between 12 and 25 years of age who are portrayed with eating disorders, self image issues and negative thoughts about their own body. Sometimes it’s boys between 14 and 25 years of age but it is NEVER youth outside the gender binary and it is very, very rarely someone younger or older than the ages above.
I think youth who do not conform to gender norms fight even more with body and self image issues because there are so few resources where genderqueer, two spirit, trans, non-gender, gender free, pangender or any other queer labeled youth can find support for their unique and beautiful bodies, clothing that fits both their body and their style and images of happy queer youth of all shapes, sizes, colors, sexes, genders and identities. We have to change this, don’t judge a person by their looks, make no assumptions and complement choices and achievements instead of physical attributes, especially if you are a parental figure or educator.
At the bottom of this post is a video that made me tear up a bit, just remember that the video’s message really should be for people of all genders.
Yours in Queerness,