There’s a point to this post, I swear. But first, have some cuteness.
First order of business: shower. But since the Boychick was not in the mood, a diversion needed to be found. A purple, purple diversion:
And why did I need a shower right then? To go get a pedicure with a dear friend, of course! Guess what color I chose…
Since I posted about the fabulous shirt/dress my mom bought me, certain people1 have been bothering me for photos of it. And I figure, if I’m going to go to all the trouble of posting one picture…
And then the poor Boychick was getting sick, and after his dad went to sleep he got back up and came out to me, asking to be carried because he was scared2. And so on he went, in one of our terribly neglected wraps. (Evidence suggests babywearing is like riding a bicycle; I’ll be 90, and not remember anything of the past 50 years, and I’ll still know how to keep a small person happy and secure on my body.)
And now, the point:
I have a hard time looking at photos of me, still. Not because I think I’m not beautiful — I know I am — but because I find it very hard to keep feeling that way when I see most pictures of me. There are a dozen pics of me that I’m not about to show you for each of the ones you can see here. I have no problems, with my pale hairy legs and my large arms and my fucking gorgeous fat ass, getting a pedicure or wearing a sleeveless dress, or going running in those shorts — but ask me to look at pictures of myself doing it, and I cringe. I hide. I decline, whenever possible.
But that day I thought, damnit, I’m going to put my skin where my mouth is. I pulled out my camera(phone). And I took a ton of pictures.
And, like most pictures (especially by a non-photographer, taken on an iPhone), most of them sucked. Most of them failed to capture my attractiveness. But I kept taking them. And then I picked the best3, and I shared it on Twitter.
Here’s something I learned from that sharing, and why I feel fully comfortable posting the barely-dressed babywearing one: if your self-esteem is low — making you not want to share pictures of you because all you can see is your “faults” and your “ugliness” and all the things “wrong” with you — show pictures of you to people who care about you.
Now, don’t show them to douchebags, because you’ll only get douchebaggery back. Don’t show them to people who routinely bitch and moan about how they look, or who tear down strangers they see, or who think fashion magazines’ “Hot or Not” features are anything but laughable or horrifying. But if you show them to people who have even a passing familiarity with size acceptance, who know that beauty comes in infinite diversity, who have somehow escaped total brainwashing by kyriarchy — I tell you, you will be floating afterward. I was.
Try this, if you are able. If you haven’t yet, if you — like me — have some positive sense of self-esteem only until the shutter clicks, try it. Take 10 pictures of yourself. Take 100. Take 1000. Pose. Try all different angles, different lights, different expressions. Most of them will suck, and you might start hearing some self-criticism again — but keep going. You know what part of you you maybe-secretly love — that curve of hip, that flash of smile, that puff of hair — so try to capture it, and keep trying until you have the proof, incontrovertible, in front of you, of this truth: you are worthy of being seen.
And then show it off. Show it to your lover. Show it to your parents. Show it to your friends — not the drama-mongers, the real ones. Show it to Twitter. Show it to me, and I promise I will tell you a truth you will not regret hearing.
We are trained to believe that only some ways of being are acceptable. We are trained to expect bodies to be falsely perfect, airbrushed beyond blemish, photoshopped beyond recognition. If we are lucky, we can still see the everyday beauty all around us. If we are very lucky, we can see it in ourselves, but I think it takes practice. Put down the fashion mags, turn off the commercials, train your eye to turn away from the billboards, train your ear to tune out the ads, and look at the people around you. Look in the mirror. Look in the camera, and smile.