This morning I took a few moments to do something that I rarely do: look at my body. I probably look at my face in the mirror a hundred times a day, but I’m talking about checking out my own, naked body. Looking at myself and noticing my train of thoughts, whether they are judgments and criticisms or self-affirmations. Naturally, I want to spend more energy on the affirmation part and less on the criticism. But we all know how difficult this can be, men and women alike. My self-inspection got me thinking about all of the body insecurities I’ve had over the years, many of which seem silly and trivial to me now. But at the time, these insecurities played an important role in establishing my self-concept and confidence.
1. Boobs too big.
Probably my biggest insecurity. This has followed me through high school and into college. I won’t go into too much detail, since I have dedicated an entire post to breasts earlier on this blog. But it’s one of those things that always makes me self-conscious and grants me unwanted attention.
2. Ass too small.
This has also been on my mind for quite a while. There’s really no escaping it because everyone in my family has small behinds (my dad calls it gluteus minimus). But, as we’ve seen demonstrated by the mainstream media time and time again, guys like a big booty. Curvy is in (see: Beyonce, Shakira, JLo, Nicki Minaj).
3. Arms too hairy.
This one goes all the way back to elementary school. As a young girl I always thought that my arms were too hairy and that it was just gross (and unfeminine). When I walked down the hall at school I would try to turn my arms inside out (it’s as uncomfortable as it sounds) to prevent my classmates from seeing the hairy sides. This is really sad when I think about it now…that I was so ashamed of the natural hair growth on my arms I felt embarrassed to walk down the hallway. I’m past that shame now, but it’s pretty upsetting that I ever felt that way.
4. Crooked nose.
My face is asymmetrical. Which is normal. But I didn’t realize this as a child. My nose always looked crooked to me and I would try to mold it with my fingers to make it look more “normal” and symmetrical. Really it wasn’t my nose, it was just that everyone’s face is not perfectly symmetrical and so the two sides look different. Another trivial insecurity that wasn’t so trivial at the time.
5. Monkey ears.
When I was younger I also thought that my ears stuck out just a little too much. Hence, monkey ears. I refused to tuck my hair behind my ears and instead opted to always wear my hair down so that I could cover them. Even in my teen years I was still self-conscious about it – I would get embarrassed when a boyfriend softly pushed my hair back or tucked it behind my ear because I didn’t want him to see my monkey monstrosities.
6. Too much hair down there…
And that brings me to my vagina, the source of much of my body insecurity. This is where gender comes into play and my experiences as a woman affect my self-concept. I never thought my vagina was too hairy until friends pointed it out and then I began to worry…was my bush too bushy? The forest too thick? Then I received the comment that my vagina was abnormally large as well. So this is great, right? I have a huge hairy beast between my legs and I’m supposed to be positive about it? Luckily, feminist resources such as The Vagina Monologues have helped me realize that my vagina is completely normal and also completely unique, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
Rather than ragging on myself, I’m documenting these insecurities as a way to help myself rise above them. Recognizing how trivial they are in the scheme of things helps me to remember that I AM beautiful, despite the flaws I perceive when I look in the mirror. Body positivity is a constant struggle for me even as I attempt to encourage other women to love themselves. And this is living with a “socially acceptable” body – women who aren’t granted this label have a much tougher time than me. It is my hope to help woman and young girls to appreciate body diversity and to love and accept their bodies as they are. But part of this quest involves teaching myself how to do this, and it is constant work. Work that I intend to continue in order for me to help myself and women everywhere.