There was a moment, last summer, when I stood, naked, in front of the full length mirror in my bedroom, and cried. I call it 'a moment', but it was more than that. Weeks, perhaps, of feeling teary and insecure, and just, well, totally. utterly. shit. about my reflection: weeks of grey that culminated in this unprecedented moment of black.
There had been a lot going on in those months. I had, for one, discovered the hard way that with certain people you are only 'the most beautiful girl in the world' until you are not. The hangover of that realisation, and how it kept me awake at night. There was a breaking, I guess, when that happened, not because my relationship with somebody else ended, but because it felt like my relationship with me ended too.
I remember gripping the lumps of flesh that made my silhouette wider around my hips, and sighing at the jiggles, and sucking in and breathing out and laughing too, in an awkward, despairing kind of way, and wishing, wishing, wishing. My friends reassured me that I didn't need to lose weight, but it wasn't particularly that I was fussed about. I.. hated... all of it. I wanted to look different. Better. Not like her, the one who had been so dispensable.
I learnt a lot last summer: most importantly that when somebody else decides I am not enough, it is not the end of the world. But when I decide I am not enough, there is no end to the world ending. Self-acceptance, self-kindness: it's everything. We can't move forward without it. There is a depth of happiness that is lost.
I've never much liked my crooked teeth or the band of fat that folds over when I sit down, or how my skin resembles the surface of the moon when I'm stressed or hormonal. Those things have a habit of popping into my brain now and again and creating a shit storm, leading me to believe that I am less, somehow. I'm tired of that. We're taught, from a young age, to treat others how we would like to be treated, and I believe that is one of the most important lessons we learn. But. Maybe, once we've figured that out, we should be taught to treat ourselves how we have decided is best to treat others, too. I don't determine anybody's value on how they look, after all, so where is the sense in doing that to myself?
My body is so much more than just skin and freckles and spots and jiggles and a brief, bi-annual appearance of ab definition. It's home. Home to a conscious mind and a compassionate heart and thoughts and ideas and hope, and endless shitty jokes, and love: so much of it. Home, on some days, to two bacon sandwiches and half a litre of chocolate ice cream, because this girl doesn't say no when her heart says yes. It is the vessel that has me walk towards spectacular horizons and dance in that childish, uninhibited way that stops the world spinning for a moment: the vessel that I can stretch and shake for half an hour to calm the storm of the day. This body is the body that is now held and kissed by a man who I know doesn't take a single inch of it, of me, for granted. It is the body that tangles up with those of cherished friends in the darkness: through the darkness. The body that has cradled new life - might nurture new life. The body that has wiped tears, and warmed cold palms when life is fading. This body: so many beautiful things that its reflection is blind to.
And you know what? There are lumps, and jiggles, and I could probably keep a chippy running for a week on the fat from my hips. But there are curves: and sometimes I feel a bit... Sexy, in those, and there is muscle, strength, growing from the work I am putting in, and there are big, dusty blue eyes and tiny, chubby, inelegant hands that make people laugh at parties. I'm learning, slowly, to enjoy the skin that I am in. It is enough. It is so much.
There was a moment, this afternoon, when I stood and tried on a bikini for an upcoming trip to Singapore, in front of that same full length mirror in my bedroom. I didn't cry, or recoil, or wish for something else. I just looked, and maybe smiled a little, and thought 'you're alright, you know. You're alright.'
And I'm pretty happy about that.