Body Positivity, part two.

In terms of body confidence issues, it might be considered insensitive to call any of it ‘trivial’, but in my case, there are certainly parts of my body that I don’t feel 100% happy about, that at times get me down, but in comparison to the dysmorphic feelings I had toward those things mentioned in the previous post on this topic, how I feel about the following is much more unimportant, or rather makes much less impact on my life as a whole. Conversely, these issues are the longest-standing; it’s much harder to rid my mind of the negative feelings that arise, whereas the serious issues, which are my breasts and genitalia, took a lot of deep thinking and ‘research’ for me to come to the realization that actually, I’m normal. And these following are normal too, but a lot harder to reconcile myself with.

A little disclaimer: I don’t want to bring up anyone else’s insecurities with any of these issues, nor do I want to make out that these things should be issues for everyone who suffers or experiences them. I’m just talking about the things that affect me, and like my previous post, it’s sometimes not as much the actual issues so much as how they’ve negatively affected me over years and years. Ideally, I’d like to come to terms with all of it, completely, 100%.

I intended to begin at the top of my body and work my way down, which makes my starting point also the one that gives me the most grief: my hair. My hair is fine in its individual strands, but as a whole it’s very thick – there’s a lot of it. But the fineness means my hair is very prone to oiliness. There’s a lot of advice, especially online, on how to deal with this: don’t wash your hair every day, minimise the time you’re under the water, minimise the time you have product on your hair, don’t keep it wrapped in the towel for very long, spread out the time between washes to let your hair become more accustomed to it… They’re just a few things I’ve tried and tested – some of the myriad advice does make an improvement, but I’ve found that most of the time, it simply differs every time. There seem to be too many factors involved that my hair doesn’t want to agree with. I wouldn’t mind it so much if my hair actually was guaranteed to look clean after each wash, but it doesn’t want to do that sometimes either – it’s a bit hit and miss. It’s the thing that gets me down probably the most of these things, because hair’s such a big part of your overall image, and how you’re perceived both initially and continually, since people look at it each time they look at you. Sometimes I’m tempted to shave it all off, I must admit!

Next would be my skin, especially my facial skin. It’s a common complaint: I have combination skin, meaning that in parts of my face the skin is oily or oil-prone, in others it’s very dry, and in some areas, especially my forehead and T-zone in general, it’s both at the same time, weirdly! My skin’s not smooth either; all my life since puberty I’ve been prone to spots, and when they disappear, my skin stays quite ‘textured’, I guess? When I use face washes and face scrubs to generally smooth out my skin, it works on those areas that don’t really get spots, but the rest stays like a bumpy road. It looks okay; you’d really have to touch it to realize how it’s not smooth. Maybe that’s me being too pernickety and everyone suffers from this to some extent. Now I know the solution to this problem, if there is one, is impeded by my frugality (blame me being both a Scot and a Capricorn – a deadly combination in terms of cheapness!), and I need to accept that a lot of good skincare is a bit pricier. Some of the beauty girls I watch on YouTube have managed to improve their skin very successfully, so I’m sure I could do it too. My skin doesn’t get me down too much, truth be told; the one thing is the dryness, because although I love the moisturizer I’m currently using, I still have problems with dryness on my forehead and going up into my scalp, and that doesn’t look pretty!

Next is my ‘witchy’ chin. I use this name for mine, but I realize this is mean toward those who have a similar protrusion. I actually don’t have many problems with my chin anymore, but it used to get to me quite a lot. I have a small head in general, and killer cheekbones, if I do say so myself, so my chin’s quite noticeable, especially when I wear my hair up. As I said, I don’t really mind it anymore – I’ve very much got an ‘it is what it is’ approach to it now. I’d never consider surgery to shave it down, so that’s that. I find it funny to see it sticking out in pictures from the side rather than feeling insecure. 🙂

Boobs of course are dealt with in the previous post, so I’ll move on to my belly. This is the instance where people will probably come at me and be pissed off at me insinuating I feel bad about it, but I’m glad to say that I don’t really care that I’ve got more of a belly right now than ever. In fact, for years I was a size 8, trying desperately to go up at least one dress size, which I thought wouldn’t be too difficult, being only 5′ tall. Still, it took me a long time, and I didn’t really do it very healthily or sensibly, if I’m honest. The result of too many takeaways is a size 10 and a bit of a belly, and I’d have the cheek to complain about this, really. I weigh the most I’ve ever done in my life, but it’s not something that gets me down. I’m confident in what I wear and how I look generally. The reason I most want to stay this size is because I can’t afford to buy any clothes in a larger size, that’s all!

I absolutely love my pre-Raphaelite hips and butt. And I think I have pretty nice legs too, although I used to hate them and cover them up; I’m really not sure why, actually! I absolutely hate shaving my legs, though I won’t show them off when they need shaving; that’s something I don’t have the confidence to pull off, and in all honesty, I prefer shaven legs. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that preference. It’s been months and months since I last shaved them, though I plan to when the weather gets warmer. Until then, I don’t really care.

This has turned into a bit of a ramble about how I feel about my body in general, negative and positive. The last thing, my height, isn’t something I feel insecure about per se, but I often wish I were taller. I think being short makes me look younger, and of course there’s the usual complaints of struggling to find jeans to fit my legs, taller people blocking my view at the cinema and at concerts, and having 12 year olds tower over me! I feel like I might come across as a bit of a pushover because of my height as well. As I said, I’m only 5′ tall, the same height as I was at 11 – I used to be the tallest in my class at school! I’d only have liked a few more inches; I wouldn’t want to be overly tall.

All of these things aren’t things that really eat away at me, but some of them – especially hair, skin, and height – are noticeable daily, and the ones I really wish I could change. Unfortunately, the nature of hair’s genetic, so there’s no changing it for good, although I continue to try everything I can to combat the problem. Skin’s a matter of cost and routine; I feel like I could definitely improve it. Height won’t change at this point, so I just have to live with that.

But in general, compared to even five years ago, I’m very confident about and love my body. It’s not ideal for me, but then I don’t think anyone’s is. Everyone should be happy about their body, but it’s a complex issue, and with the focus society puts on appearance and the ‘perfection’ of beauty, it’s no surprise that most if not all of us have something about us we don’t like. Some people resort to surgery to get the improvements they wish to see, others try to combat the psychological issue by simply practicing attempts at acceptance. Whichever choice you make, I wish you happiness in your body. That’s something we all deserve.

Sascha x

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Body Positivity, part one.

I feel like this post might be a little bit TMI for those who personally know me, but I’m not really too bothered. (This is an amazing thing for me to realize, since I’ve struggled with self-confidence for years.) Today I’m discussing body positivity; I’m making it a very personal post, but of course readers might be struggling with different or even opposite issues to the ones in my life. That’s okay – it’s not the measurements that matter, it’s the attitude we need to adopt about our bodies and realize that we’re all normal that’s important. I’m just going to go through all the issues that are relevant to my self-confidence problems in terms of my body – in this part, I am focusing on the very private issues of breasts and genitalia (in the next installment I’ll discuss the more ‘trivial’ issues), and how I have learned and am learning to overcome these issues.

I’m going to start with the obvious one: my boobs. They are a teeny-tiny A cup. I was constantly aware of feeling inadequate compared to my bustier friends. No one ever said anything directly to me, but of course I picked up on the general attitudes of society that a girl isn’t “womanly enough” if her boobs aren’t big enough. I didn’t feel feminine, and as someone with a very feminine style, it did eat away at me. I was never serious about getting a boob job but I feel like if someone had offered it to me I would have taken the opportunity. I’m also lopsided – my right breast is even tinier! They not only differ in size but where they sit on my chest – the right, smaller boob sits higher up on my body.

Now, I am happy to say that I love my tiny boobs! I don’t have to think about them when I’m buying a new shirt – girls with bigger chests frequently have to buy different sizes in order to accommodate them. I don’t. I do sometimes have a problem with certain styles that you’d need more substantial breasts to actually be able to fill them out, but that’s not a big deal to me. I’m one of those unfortunate people whose periods first show up in ridiculously painful and tender breasts – if I had bigger ones, the pain would presumably be a lot worse! I most frequently lie on my side while sleeping, and sometimes even my A cups get in the way in that position! I’ve learned to love them, and for me, to imagine having larger breasts feels weird to me now!

I have experienced, and still do to some extent, body dysphoria when it comes to my labia. I’m being frank and open in a way that I never have been before, but I will say it without shame: I hated the way I looked down there. I thought I was abnormal for having larger labia. I bought into the myth that pornstars’ vulvas are the ‘norm’ and any deviation from that is not okay, is disgusting or gross and needs to be fixed. I was seriously considering labiaplasty – invasive surgery – because society isn’t open enough to discuss that labias come in different shapes and sizes and colors. This is where sex education at my school went very wrong – there should have been a focus on the diversity of genitals’ appearance. The frequent description of vulvas/vaginas as nothing more than a split or slit between your legs meant that I was left wondering why the hell mine wasn’t neat and tidy and even like that.

How many other girls around me could have been silently struggling, like I was? I didn’t tell anyone for years how I felt, but it affected me intensely. I avoided touching myself directly or looking – I couldn’t bear the sinking feeling in my stomach every time I looked at myself. Like I said, I began to consider labiaplasty. It was seeing a girl go through such surgery on TV that made me feel more ‘ready’ to go down the same route than ever before. I finally confessed to my twin all that I had been feeling over the years. He’s the best no-nonsense advice giver for any topic, and in this instance he reassured me that surgery was a drastic move, and with his help, I realized my problem was psychological – there was no problem with how I looked, but the problem was with my attitude towards it and my unhappiness. This is what I had to combat in order to become happy about my body without resorting to dangerous, risky surgery.

I began to look at pictures of women online, exploring the diversity and variety that labias have. I began to feel more confident in looking at my own body and reconciling myself with how I look regardless of other people. I began to explore myself more directly and become accustomed with myself rather than trying to ignore it. I don’t mean this to say I wasn’t masturbating – I was, from a young age – but I was opting for more indirect stimulation because of my dysphoria. I began to include more direct touching in combination; I found that all of this meant I quickly became accustomed to my body and could focus on what it does rather than what it looks like.

It was seeing a woman whose genitalia could have easily been mine happily posing for nude photos that really drove it home that I’m normal, combined with seeing people whose labias actually divert from that pornstar ‘norm’ a lot more than mine do. I realized the beauty of the diversity. I realized finally that I didn’t have to change, because there was nothing wrong with me. The internet was there for me in a way that sex education should have been. It would have saved me so many years of tears and upset and dysphoria if I’d known from a young age that I was normal.

I gave up the idea of labiaplasty, and while I’m still not 100% happy with how I look, I’m getting there. I’m confident that my journey is not yet over, and I’ll arrive at a place where I can be fully satisfied about myself. I’ve surprised myself at how openly I’ve discussed this, and not very anonymously either – if you’d told me years ago that I’d get to this point, I’d have laughed in disbelief. But I don’t think there should be anything shameful in discussing your body, especially not in discussing coming to terms with things that society makes out are wrong. What is wrong with body positivity? I, for one, am glad that I am willing to discuss my journey, and if it helps even one person realize that we should embrace our diversity and stop feeling insecure about our bodies, then I’m happy. And even if it doesn’t garner that result, I still feel I’ve made significant personal progress from being the girl who was constantly upset about her large labia!

Part 2 should be coming along soon. Thank you for reading. 🙂

Until next time,
Sascha x