** I would like to thank WordPress for choosing my poem, a poet to her son, to be Freshly Pressed last week, and to all those who liked, commented, or chose to follow my blog based on that piece: your feedback has been overwhelming. Thank you so, so much. I look forward to making even more writing connections!
I’ve blogged about body image before; when something sits on your shoulder from the time you wake to the time you close your eyes, how can it not wiggle its way into your writing? My feelings about myself are on my tongue, in my fingertips, in my hips when I’m shimmying into a pair of jeans.
So, does that girl I see in the mirror match the girl in my chest? Sometimes. Only sometimes. They like to tango back and forth, one rising to the surface while the other sleeps for a while. I could catch my reflection in the kitchen window and smile at how my hair curves just above my eyebrows that day. But then, the lights inside could simultaneously be off and that version of me just below the skin could be stumbling blindly around trying not to stub her toe on anything.
Other times I find myself glowing so brightly I’d swear you could see the sun behind my eyes, but looking in the mirror you’d only guess I was hurting. Straight lips, slumped shoulders, bad hair, bad outfit. I like the way I look just after a shower, fresh faced. Thankfully the mirror above the medicine cabinet doesn’t allow for anything I wouldn’t like to look at. Being short has its perks. Out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes.
It’ll be a forever-struggle, desperately trying to sync up those two layers of self. Once in a while there is a glimpse of that girl – a complete 360 of courage, confidence, happiness. It’s like the possessed, floundering in moments the Devil loses his grip and allows them to break through and cry for help, before going under again. Maybe that’s a bit much, but you get the point. For some it’s that serious.
As for stock in personal appearances? I fully believe that how you look on the outside is sometimes a reflection of how you feel on the inside. I also believe that we sometimes cover what we believe is inner ugliness with nice clothing and lots of lipstick (if you’re a woman…but even if you’re not, too!). But who doesn’t immediately feel somewhat better when they slip into a cute outfit?
I want to embrace my imperfections and rename them as gifts that are only mine to have.
How do you feel when you look in the mirror? How do you feel on the inside? Is it a perfect match?
India Arie is on repeat on our computer right now. The image of myself, something I have always, always struggled with; what do others think of me? What do they see when they look at me? What do I think of myself? How do I look in those skinny jeans? Some days I’m thin. Most days I’m fat. Every day it’s on my mind. Am I beautiful? Inside? Outside? What are my goals? I accomplished this, I didn’t accomplish that. I lost a pound. I gained a pound. I ran. I didn’t run. I wrote. I watched television instead. I ate that piece of cake.
So here’s a stream of consciousness post, very true to what races through my mind each and every day, a sort of pep talk mixed with a few I-can’t-help-it downers. My thought process in all its vulnerable glory.
I hate how I look in the morning I love how I look in the morning, fresh faced with blemishes and eyeliner streaking down one cheek am I gaining weight? My face looks puffy but that’s just the sleepiness doing its thing, you won’t think the same way later, stop poking at yourself in the mirror. I’m in the shower do I look thinner today? You haven’t eaten breakfast yet it’s all empty I almost don’t want to but the hunger, the hunger is stronger than the thought of giving in to some disorder, he tells you you’re crazy every time you say it but does he really feel that way? You’ve come such a long way, a long, long way don’t do this now, she tells you, he tells you, what is there to be but happy. Either way I cannot win, too thin you’re disease, too fat he doesn’t want you, you can’t fit in, to clothes or crowds or friendships and you’re pregnant, they’ve whispered it so often you may as well be, I’m afraid they’re all thinking it. It’s the one way to stab at me to pull the tears out to force it all to the surface. Forcing off the layers I can’t even look I turn the mirror as I move and bend I closed the door I lock it so he doesn’t see but he has seen, he’s touched, he’s kissed, but mostly with the lights low a bulge here or there it lessens my value, my arguments can’t hold up my opinions do not matter I fade into the majority next to others, firm and uninhibited and strong and standing straight I am pathetic, I am lessened, I don’t know my way around it all, what good am I? You’re well-spoken, you are a graduate, you are valued, you are loved, you are looked at, really, really looked at when you catch him staring at you even in your pajamas, no bra on, no lipstick, stubs of eyelashes poking out from above those green eyes, sorry nothing on for show today, am I still me? Something else? But you like how those collarbones show themselves, I’m afraid they’ll disappear tomorrow, but do your pants still fit? They aren’t snug yet, stop paying attention to the number, how do you feel? I am broken, I am fixed, my mind is in shambles, my mind is piecing back together, you are not the only one. Never, ever alone. Don’t believe everything you think, repeat it back, go through the motions, feel everything around you, don’t waste a single second. Swallow the air and dance in the kitchen and kiss him on the mouth and force his hand around your waist at night and don’t worry about those layers of blankets in between it doesn’t matter, you are here, he is here, they are here, you’ve come such a long way, keep going, push, keep fighting, you are your own guide, you are your own destiny, you have the will, you look so good in that red lipstick.