I thought I’d overcome a lot of my body insecurities, that I’d learned to accept myself and my body for what it is and what it can do. More important still, that I’d learned to find my own particular brand of beauty. I wrote an entire manifesto about it.
Well, I was wrong. I suppose that just makes me a woman – what woman doesn’t go through phases of complete and utter body-hatred? Find me one woman who can love herself truly ALL THE TIME, even when PMSing, and I will prove to you that she is an alien or a robot. This recent bout of self-hatred might be because of the time of the month, but I think it is related to my recent emotional instability. Historically, one of the biggest red flags of my dark phases has been body self-shaming, even flirting with eating disorders. As I feel my life spiraling out of control, I seek out areas over which I can establish rigid dominance (and what better than my own body?!) and then to the extent I (inevitably) fail, I use my failures as proof that I am an undisciplined, worthless, lazy fuck-up in all areas of my life. Oh yeah, my paranoid brain has this cycle down pat.
I recognize the signs. I am aware that I cannot trust the internal dialogue that my brain is feeding me. I know that my perceptions have broken away from reality: putting on 3-4 lbs due to a month of eating wtv I want (I never fully stopped my nutritional splurge from France) does not make me a hideous blob. I know that I have to wait this out, repeating positive messages to myself, even if I don’t believe them, until such a moment as the negative voices in my head quieten. I know the drill. I am determined to do it.
Part of me finds this curious. I am a modern day Amazonian feminist -I am aware of the patriarchy and do my best to reject it. Yet the negative voices in my head successfully bring me down using messages that are the very ones I rationally reject.
Example 1: I need male validation
Back when Beaut and I were a thing, I pointed out to him that he rarely, if ever, complimented me on my appearance. Occasionally, he’d comment favorably on some of my facebook pictures, but not nearly as frequently as he would do to a lot of his girl friends, and never ever to my face when we were together. (Aside: do you know how lame it sounds to complain “you don’t like my pictures on facebook?” EW. I can’t believe I became THAT girl.) At first he rejected my accusation, but a quick scroll through my Facebook wall easily proved my point – thank goodness, at least I had some grip on reality! He explained to me a very male way of thinking: “Vanilla, if I put my penis into you, and do so on a regular basis, that means I want to put my penis in you. I only want to put my penis into girls I find attractive. What more concrete proof do you need? You have the action, and actions speak louder than words.” Yes, that is true, but I like hearing it. More importantly, I need to hear it, especially from the guy I’m sleeping with. I need it so badly that without it, I stop enjoying the sex.
You guys. Wtf is wrong with me that a lack of compliments eats away at me so much that I can’t then enjoy clitoral stimulation or penetration? That’s one deep insecurity. I don’t get how this happened?! And ugh. What a unattractive burden to place on the guy.
I’ve noticed also that I don’t place the same weight on compliments given to me by my guy and girl friends. I easily accept, and just as easily forget, compliments from my girlfriends. I savor, and preen myself, on the rare occasions my guy friends compliment me. I think compliments from my male friends help me believe that I am attractive to the opposite sex. That implies that I am still in doubt about my attractiveness. I need that validation. And the reason for that is a rather limited and unsuccessful dating history and…
Example 2: I fundamentally don’t believe that my physique appeals to most guys
I’m tall (5’9”). I’m heavy (160-165lbs). I weigh more than most guys at my boxing gym. I have an athletic build. I easily put on muscle. I’m a bit of a tomboy – while I wear mainly skirts and dresses, I can’t be bothered to put on anything other than mascara, and high heels are optional (except at work). I box. I’m aware that guys are wilting flowers and hate being emasculated. I’m also aware that I’m reaching a point where I can lift the same as some guys, and out perform them athletically. Aka, where I will emasculate them by my very existence.
Its weird. I don’t want a wimpy guy that would be intimidated by my appearance. Yet it wounds me that my physical appearance is such that a lot of guys just won’t be turned on by it. I’ve spent my whole life thinking that what I wanted was a guy who would appreciate my mind, and my personality. And that is true. But I’m finally admitting what I never wanted to acknowledge, because it seemed too superficial. I want to believe I am hot and desirable – two attributes that just have never come up in all of my dating history.
I ran the Spartan this weekend. A friend took this picture.
When I saw it, I was taken aback. Part of me was proud that all my hard work in the gym is clearly obvious. But most of me was dismayed – THAT is what I look like? I look like a freak. This picture has garnered a lot of attention on Facebook and Instagram. Lots of likes from guys and girls. And people commenting “warrior woman”, “Amazon”, “look at those guns”, “awesome Vanilla, so fit”. Those compliments serve to confirm my worry: no one said I was beautiful. No one called this sexy. Impressive, yes. But not sexy. My paranoid brain whispers, “Maybe the reason why none of the guys you’ve dated have ever told you how hot and desirable they find you is because they DON’T find you hot and desirable. Just settle for being the girl with the nice personality. Accept yourself as you truly are. Know your limits.”
I’m aware hotness is a state of mind. It has to come from within. But currently, I’m at a bit of an impass, because I really don’t find my body type attractive. I look at Serena Williams, and I find her impressive, a strong woman, an example to follow, and I hope I never get as big as her. THAT IS STUPID. I’ve clearly internalized the message that thin, slim, lady-like, girly girls are the Hollywood ideal.
It’s gonna be an uphill battle, battling my paranoid brain on this topic.