Since having children, I've learned to accept and even be grateful for this old body of mine. But since my husband accused me of being body dysmorphic, I'm wondering whether I've ever truly seen myself at all.
Glass half full
I've always been the person that moans about the way that they look. You know, a glass half empty person. A person who will only look at themselves to see a fault; who loves fashion, but never feels quite cool enough to be good at it. And not in a humble, self effacing sort of way, but in a paranoid, neurotic, anxiety ridden kind of a way. I do a good job of faking confidence, but underneath the perfectly applied exterior, there are a million and one therapy worthy issues I know I need to dissect, resolve and conquer. But what I will give myself credit for, despite all this dysfunction, is my self awareness. I mean, basically, I know why I misbehave the way that I do most of the time. I'm aware when I'm being awkward, I'm aware when I'm being neurotic or angry or sad or unreasonably emotional - I am aware when I'm being negativity's best friend. Its never intentional, but I've always been aware of how I am 'being'.
"Without my sarcasm and negativity I would literally say 50% less than I do now. Some might see this as a blessed relief."
Sarcasm is a good thing
As such, I've always thought I had a pretty good view of myself from the outside looking in; so it came as a shock to me recently, when my husband, in the heat of a blazing row (too many of those recently) told me I was body dysmorphic. To me, this is a term for those who suffer with a truly debilitating lack of body awareness; who see themselves as almost the opposite of what they are. Ok, I've always been a little on the negative side, choosing to focus on what makes me insecure as oppose to what elevates - but that is a personality trait, a characteristic of who I am. Without my sarcasm and negativity I would literally say 50% less than I do now. Some might see this as a blessed relief (just shut up, woman), but the truth is I've always quite liked that about myself, my lack of confidence is also a lack of arrogance, my negativity acerbic realism. But this term has shaken me to my very core. Its made me wonder whether the person I've been looking at in the mirror all these years, is really me at all.
"Lets not dwell too long on my mullet with platinum blonde fringe."
I'm a 5 but not a 10
A skinny kid, a chubby teenager, a solid but leaner young adult, a something akin to skinny adult-adult - I've been through every stage with my weight. And having done so, I can see beauty in every version of me; I can see faults too, but lets not dwell too long on my mullet with platinum blonde fringe. The truth is, I've always compared myself to the women I've watched growing up. The Kate Moss and Helena Christensen's, the ones with the lean, long, honey coloured limbs and eyes that seem to 'know things'. Next to these women, I feel less than ordinary. But perhaps the truth is, thats where the problem lies, in comparing myself to others. In setting the standard with Kate Moss as the 10. These beings are not 10s, they are stratospheric - 20s, 30s, 100s even - not people to compare yourself to, but stars surrounding another planet - not better, but so very different, that no comparison should ever be direct.
"I can stand naked in front of the mirror and see whilst I am not Elle McPherson, that I have a perfectly pleasant, better than adequate vessel to cart my soul around in."
So whilst I accept that I am perhaps a little on the judgemental side when it comes to me; I'm going to refute my husband's assertion that I'm body dysmorphic (although by now, he's taken it back) - because I'm not yet lost. I know who I am and what I have to offer. I can stand naked in front of the mirror and see whilst I am not Elle McPherson, that I have a perfectly pleasant, better than adequate vessel to cart my soul around in. It might have 20% more skin than it needs (thanks pregnancy), and a few too many scars (thanks for keeping me alive), but its me, and I think its better than ok. I need to learn to respect it better, to just occasionally bathe it in a little glory and kindness, but me, is me, is me, is me. And I know who I am.