Thursday, May 28, 2015

feelin' myself

Here's the thing: I don't like the nose that's on my face.

Here's the other thing: I don't even care.

Lately I've been feeling so completely and overwhelmingly in love with my body. Not even like "Ooooh, my own personal body is beautiful and sexy," but more like I've been really noticing the miracle of owning a human body -- especially a high-functioning, mostly healthy human body that's still young and intact -- and noticing how things like legs and ears and fingers are inherently and totally wonderful in the simplest and least complicated way ever. 

The machine of my body is good. Even beyond that, I have dimply knees and hard knuckles and soft pink hands and a long stripe of yellow hair, and these things are also good. The various hardnesses and softnesses of bodies are good. It is good to put glittery, coconut-smelling lotion on this body. It is good to put makeup on this body, and it's good to not put makeup on this body. It's good to dress this body in soft sweaters and soft leggings and soft socks. It's good to stretch this body and walk it around campus. All the small, dumb things that I can do with this body are good; it's like owning a warship or a Clydesdale or a machine gun. This body is an obedient dog.

So I've been loving my human body. Breathing is wonderful. Sleeping is wonderful. Going through tiny daily chores like combing the knots out of my hair or brushing my teeth or putting on mascara is kind of magic. I don't even know how to express this to you: my body is full of kinesis and softness and warmth. I can't say anything truer to make this make sense to you. 

Beyond my own body, I've been appreciating the miracle of all bodies. Little bodies and big bodies, dark bodies and light bodies, gendered and ungendered bodies: they're all so good! There have been really, really cool things happening in re: bodies, all around the internet and across various campuses and in many different scenes and venues. Finally, diversity of bodies is starting to be something that we can celebrate instead of something that we spurn. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of #BlackoutDay on the internet, which celebrated people who have black bodies. Or the Fat Acceptance Movement, which is aimed toward accepting large bodies without a sense of shame or stigma. There's a notion in the world that while not all bodies are created equally, all bodies deserve to be respected equally.

For the better part of my jr. high and high school years, my body was my #1 enemy. It felt like my body was a traitor to me, and I spent so much time wishing it away, hating the soft parts of it like bruises in fruit. Food became this evil monster that was constantly on my mind: what kinds I could have, how much I could have, whether or not I'd feel guilty about it later. I was endlessly trying to disguise the fact that I had a body, trying to hide it under billowy tops and bulky sweaters. Everything about my body seemed wrong according to the modern standards of beauty and femininity. So I sort of held my body hostage, placed the blame on the body-ness of it rather than on the weird, crooked standards that society was selling to my normal, 15-year-old body. I felt unlovable.

Now, I still have the furthest thing from a perfect relationship with my body. I hate my nose, like I said, and I have a million other complaints about the way I look and the way my body works. Leg hair plagues me. I have wimpy noodle arms. I look stupid in ponytails. It is impossible for me to wear lowrise jeans. My thighs do, in fact, touch. Like most female people that have uteri in their bodies: every month I'm floored by the unfairness of blood and body aches and zits and and strange sadness and fury.

But I guess I've finally figured out how to appreciate my body as what it actually is: a normal body. I wrote about my difficulty with niceness for an assignment last semester, and one of things I said was, "I've always felt uncomfortable inhabiting my own body, like I'm this brain that has to kind of muddle my way through maneuvering these arms and legs around." I've struggled with the ownership of this body I have. I've spent my life feeling cerebral, disconnected from this body like maybe I've been hoping for an upgrade. But the truth of owning a body is that it is literally the only body that you can possibly have, plastic surgery and long distance running and hair dye aside. It seems so dumb, but I don't think I really understood this until fairly recently; this body of mine isn't going anywhere, no matter how hard I've tried to disassociate myself from it.

Something I'm still working very hard to accommodate is my difficulty relating to my own body in terms of anything physical, and moreover relating my body to any other person's body. Being close to anyone -- whether it's holding hands with a boy or hugging my freshman roommate when I run into her on campus or even shaking hands with the bishop -- freezes me up. I remember when Addy and Kaitlyn and I used to write this silly Boy Book full of tips and speculation concerning the fairer sex: men. One of my biggest crusades was just trying to figure out how to hug people without letting myself feel uncomfortable about it. I've always had a really hard time with proximity.

Let's talk about that really quick: proximity. I don't fully understand why it's so important to put your body near another human's body, but it is. The hug is such an important ritual, and so forth. A while ago, Kait and I were talking about how sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the smallest physical contacts with certain people. We talked about sitting next to someone you like and how even letting your arms barely graze each other is excruciating. 

I guess now is a reasonable opportunity to say that I, like many young modern girls, am very interested in boy bodies. They're foreign objects. I like boy shoulders. I like boy faces. I like the way boy bodies look in shirts or whatever. I'm interested in softness. That said, my girl body is a skittish animal around boy bodies. It's very easy to overcharge and exhaust me with even the prospect of proximity, much less actual physical contact. I turn into one hot blush, I pull back. Sariah and I have agonized over "sexiness:" what it is and how to have it. Results are not in. So I'm more content to let my body be a little island of itself, even though bodies aren't meant to be islands. But that's what I'm comfortable with right now.

Okay. I almost want to do a little pep-talk at the end of this post to somehow communicate how positively I feel about whatever body you have, as a general rule for whoever may be reading this. I hope you feel like your body is maybe a little bit magic. This isn't me saying it's easy to love the body that you have, because it's not. This isn't me saying that you need to take up Crossfit and a carb-free diet, because you don't. Owning a body is an ongoing process. I'm still trying to treat my body the way a body deserves to be treated: with more green vegetables and more yoga and less peanut butter M&M's. I'm still trying to keep my body separate from every other body, trying not to compare the size and shape and color of this body to other body sizes and shapes and colors. This body is good and ordinary and cute and overwhelming and very much not perfect; I like this body. And I'll see you guys around. 

I'm a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl. (Bjรถrk)
-Avery Jalaine

p.s. the song that this post was named after is VERY GOOD and the music video is VERY GOOD, whatever, bye.