Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I am beautiful.
From the outside, I can only assume people consider I believe this to be true. I bear no shame in posting a selfie or bouncing wildly on a dance floor for all to see. I rarely worry if I look proper, and less frequently worry if the words from my mouth are appropriate. I’m not saying I can’t handle myself in a classy situation, some might, but I’m not; it’s I would rather speak and act from my heart than be stifled. Thank you, Hippie Father.
As anyone can, I can pick flaw after disgusting flaw from my face. I can tell you my right eye sits lower on my face than my left and almost specifically map out each stretch mark on my stomach. I know it isn’t remarkably different for most women. Each of us sadly has something we detest regarding our bodies. To the ones who don’t, I applaud you and am incredibly envious.
Before you start signing Carly Simon and judging me vain, hear me out.
It isn’t vanity that has me unable to breathe the first time I get naked in front of a partner. Nor is it pride causing my chest to constrict when a lover places their hand on a part of my body I deem disgusting, even hideous. Not only do I not see myself as beautiful, to think I know it, or believe it, is the furthest thing from the truth.
Don’t judge that book so quickly, my insecurities run deep.
Recently someone commented on a selfie that I had posted on Instagram, by all outward appearances, this picture showed a confident beaming, happy woman, me. Most comments on my pictures are sweet, taken by me with a grain of salt. Just because someone tells me they see me as beautiful, does not mean I believe it to be true. This particular comment made my stomach twinge as I read it.
“I would comment about how beautiful you are, but I mean, you already know it. There is no need to stroke your ego.”
At first I was angry, like, fuck you, dude, I didn’t post this picture for my ego! But then I calmed myself, realizing this is exactly how it may look. Not only have I judged the gorgeous bikini-wearing-Instagram-hottie, but I also perceived her to be confident by all outward appearances. Thinking to myself, shit who does that, no matter how impressive my body is I would never post a picture of myself in a bikini, online, for everyone to see.
Lightbulb. I won’t post a bikini-clad picture out of my personal hatred for my body. It has nothing to do with the Instagram-Hottie, and I have no right to judge that gorgeous woman, for braving the scrutiny she may face for doing so. We all have a story; I do not know her’s, especially not based on a photo posted on social media.
My confidence has nothing to do with my outward appearance. The truth is, I am skilled at pretending I like the way I look. It’s easier for me to say thank you than tell someone I spent forty-five minutes having a panic attack while picking out an outfit. Or explain to them, that no matter how skinny I have been, or how flat my stomach is, I don’t like my body.
This is Body Dysmorphia, sometimes but not always an after effect of Bulimia or Anorexia.
For me getting dressed is riddled with anxiety, even worse is undressing. I have never been comfortable with my naked body. Ever.
Last week I was tagged in a Facebook post asking me to pick five pictures I thought made me feel beautiful. I couldn’t even find one. Not only that, I wasn’t prepared to post pictures of myself exclaiming me beautiful. What if people think I am bragging or even worse, what if people compliment me. I truly detest compliments; they make me itchy and uncomfortable. Most often I turn compliments into awkward situations, and rarely do I believe them to be true.
That isn’t to say there aren’t times I feel pretty. Of course I do, I am not playing the poor me, please tell me I-am-pretty-game. You and I just don’t see the same person, my reflection, is my perception.
What you see when you look at a picture of me or notice me carelessly treading through a crowd of people and think I look confident in myself, it isn’t what I observe, or believe. That isn’t to say there aren’t days I don’t give a fuck what you think, because rest assured, I am confident at times, I do believe in myself, but constantly worry about my appearance.
When you see me checking myself out in a mirror or a reflection in a window as I walk past it, obsessively, it isn’t because I can’t get enough of myself. I am making sure I look okay; carefully scrutinizing every flaw, to make sure I have hidden it perfectly.
I have spent most of my life picking myself apart; telling myself I could look better or be smarter. It’s easier for me to self-deprecate or slough off a compliment with a returned compliment, and not acknowledge my insecurities. Or have them played out in front of me, while people fawn over me and tell me how beautiful they truly believe I am.
Even as I write this, my worry is to be understood as egotistical. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder; not everyone is as they seem. Maybe if we took a little time to realize we are all more than meets the eye, more than that selfie we posted, we could be more compassionate towards each other, to other women.
As for that Facebook post asking me to tag myself in five photos that make me feel beautiful, I won’t do that. But I will give you five photos here. Five photos that I can tell you with out a doubt, I have picked apart. Five photos I didn’t know were being taken, so I didn’t have a chance to feel anxious, suck my stomach in, or forget to breath.