I hardly wear my lip ring anymore. It still feels strange without it.
I exercise daily and drink more water than I ought to considering that Cape Town is facing a water shortage. I look but don't feel healthy.
I'm almost three weeks away from embarking on a brand new adventure. I'm not as excited or as nervous as I should be.
I suppose there was a time, perhaps as far back as before I was able to properly formulate and comprehend words, when I was happy with my own body. A poor body image and low self-esteem don’t happen overnight – in fact, it would be rather naive to even put it down to being coincidental given the way in which the body is associated with worth in modern society. You could say that I was just incredibly unlucky to have experienced the unique compounding of verbal abuse, humiliation, failure, a toxic beauty culture and far too accommodating and understanding of a personality to stand a chance at good mental health.
My body has been the focus of my attention far more poignantly recently and it's making me feel far more despondent than usual. As a lover of the mind, the implications of the body in society has never been an easy thing for me to accept without any sort of resistance. Over the past few months I have had a lot more free time than I’ve been used to. After graduating at the end of 2015, I have had little to do other than plan and prepare myself for a teaching contract that is to commence in June. With all of the extra time, I found myself with a complete lack of excuses as to why I was looking in the mirror and hating the person that I saw. I am in no way a stranger to weight loss efforts and their results so I knew that it would be possible to change my physical appearance. As I made exercise a part of my daily routine and locked down on my eating habits, I was reminded of something or rather noticed something – the common element that has followed every diet or eating plan, exercise routine, gym membership and any other cause for heightened body scrutiny. I was sad. My body makes me so phenomenally, overwhelmingly sad when I’m left too long to think about it. While it involves these factors, it doesn’t stem from a dissatisfaction with what I look like nor is it about wanting to look like someone else – it comes from a place of intense and crippling fear that seems to have taken root in every single cell of my body as well as in my psyche.
There is a fear of failure that I have come to associate with my body that I am slowly trying to unlearn. When I was little, it was not being able to keep myself up on the monkey bars and effortlessly swing across the jungle gym - the fear of failing to be strong enough. In primary school it was the fear of having another person call me fat or chubby or otherwise directly insult me based on my physical appearance. It's the fear of comments about how I am "disproportionately skinny". It's fearing my perpetually tired eyes and big nose. It's fearing my friends, who all happen to be insanely beautiful - both in body and mind - and wondering why they give the ugly duckling the time of day. It's hardly ever dancing, hardly ever jumping around, hardly ever laughing raucously because I fear even just the idea or possibility of people looking at me. It's the fear of getting overlooked for a job based on my appearance.
I hope to one day be bigger than my fears. I'm still not there yet. The proof being that this post has sat in a drafts folder for two years. All I can do is hope to wholly believe myself when I say that I am more than a body.