Monday, June 23, 2014

that's my body

nb: this post contains a photograph that is nsfw, as well as discussion of body image.

so tall, i block out the sun

i've had this on my mind for a while now, and haven't quite been sure how to frame it in terms of a blog post. i'm not sure how it fits in with the general scope of what the crowned finch is about, or whether it's too personal, too navel-gazey, or too something else. but because i'm me, there's been an inevitability about my jumping in and saying it all anyway. just bear with me.

i've been doing a lot more thinking than usual about my body lately. i'm in the process of actively trying to make it fitter and healthier and that's had me looking at it, embodying it, and thinking about it in new and different ways.

i'm starting to like it more than i ever used to, and feel more confident in what it can do. i'm taking lots of selfies (sorry, instagram followers...), and standing in front of the mirror naked a lot more than i ever did before, and this has all been part of a project - trying to get to know this body, and fit inside it.

but here's the thing. i have never, ever felt like my body is beautiful. not ever.

since i can remember, i have always been told that i'm a "big girl". which is true - i'm tall, i'm broad, and i stand out. and i have always felt like this was a bad thing, like being female and large is somehow rude, excess to requirements, and even a bit grotesque.

now, i know that expectations around women's bodies are socially constructed by a patriarchal society that wants to monetise and control us, but for me, understanding the root of my sense of offensive gigantism doesn't change the feeling. it's so long held, and deeply rooted that i've incorporated it into my identity.

then, the other day i was talking with a friend about game of thrones, and how amazing brienne of tarth is, and isn't gwendoline christie incredible, and he gave me a link to this photoshoot she did a while back with polly borland (before clicking that link be advised that many of the portraits are nsfw).

and as i scrolled through the images, this one appeared, and it kind of winded me:

from 'bunny' by polly borland, 2008.

this is my body.
i mean, i have a caesarian scar, some stretch marks, and a lot of tattoos, but the size of it, the shape of it... that's me...

and i think this image is strikingly, arrestingly, breathtakingly beautiful.

i'd like to say that seeing gwendoline christie's beauty has convinced me of my own, and that i'm now walking around in a glow of self love and acceptance, but i can't honestly do that. 

i can say that i'm really glad these images exist. 
i can say that i feel a complicated set of conflicting emotions when i see them. that they've had me feeling, thinking, and reacting over and over again every time i've looked at them.
i can say that a little bit of something has shifted in my head, and that i'm still standing naked in front of the mirror.

i don't know if i'll ever feel like a beautiful woman, but there's a beautiful woman out there walking around in a body just like mine, and somehow that's weirdly excellent.

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