I'd written about body positivity before on this blog but today I felt I wanted to be more open about my relation with my body. I feel there is an enormous pressure on each and every one of us when it comes to our bodies. We tend to feel ashamed of ourselves when we see others wataching us. We tend to be wary of our measurements and weight, as if they defined us. I've seen a lot of girls hide behind numbers or --on the other hand --hide their numbers to a fault. I've seen people not talk about their disability and sickness out of fear of being judged. It's like almost all of us think our bodies are our faults that we need to conceal. After carrying out The Project on Body, I believe this to be not so. We just don't talk. We don't know that others worry about their bodies the same amount as we do because we don't talk about these things. I believe if we were more open, things could change for better for all of us.
So here's some facts about my body, ones I feel ok sharing. I believe in being transparent that way. I hope it encourages others to feel better with their bodies and lets them talk about them more freely if they want to. To me, life has always been about trying to feel accepted and normal and while my body makes it hard to feel that way, I think it's just because I often feel ashamed to talk about it. As I said, we don't talk enough. If we did, we would have known that all of us have problems. It's normal to have problems. It's ok to have problems. It's even more ok to talk about them.
Disclaimer: I don't want to talk about the body image in the media at this time, it's a whole another story. I'm just sharing my personal experience here, without any deeper anlysis. I don't want to go too far into the realm of judging every single thing. Just stating the facts, as opposed to opinions, seems enough for this post --which is rather lengthy anyway.
I am 166 cm (5 ft 4') tall and I usually weigh between 59 and 64 kilos. At 63 kilos (an estimate, I haven't weighted myself in months), my current measurements are 90 cm (35.5 in) at the bust, 70 cm (27.5) at the waist and 103 cm (40.5 in) at the hips. Also my head circumference is 58 cm (23 in) and my neck is 34 cm (13 in) and then there are other measurements that I know because I sew clothes for myself. Thanks to that, I've learned numbers themselves won't tell you anything. It's all about proportion --and good fitting clothes.
These are the facts, hard numbers that I can tell you without hesitation. Now, as much as I want to not judge, some things about my body fall in to "the harder" and others into "the easier" category. At the same time, please be aware that body is not just about the looks. It's so much more.
I was a sickly child, constantly home with anginas and colds and fevers. At seven, I was diagnosed severly allergic to pretty much everything you can inhale and a lot of things you can eat and those allergies made my immune system very weak. It all turned out to be totally psycho-somatic once I've changed my social environment to one that was secure and friendly in my third high school. Today, I rarely get sick at all.
But some of the downsides of my childhood allergies remain and make themselves apparent to this day. One such downside, which people seldom attribute to allergies, is weak muscular structure, which is why I slouch a lot and have to constantly remind myself to straighten my back. My spine is badly damaged from it already and I need to get some excercise.
At around 23 I was diagnosed with PCOS --Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome --which is a hormonal disorder pertaining to the metabolism of sugars. It shows itself in a number of ways: irregular periods, tendency to gain unhealthy weight, incurable acne, hirsutism and a tendency towards depression. It's also a main reason of infertility in women. I'm among the lucky few who only get their period once a blue moon, I have just one pesky witch-like hair on my chin that I pluck out, and I am able to control my weight. There is no known cure for PCOS.
I was also born with a skull malformation known as retrognathia or prognathism. It means that my upper and lower teeth meet at the edges instead of my lower teeth hiding behind the upper. This leads to my teeth getting filed and my enamel breaking down and my facial muscles working disorderly. It also makes my face appear flat and elongated and disproportionate. This condition can only be improved by wearing braces and undergoing a double jaw surgery in which my maxilla and mandible would need to be broken and re-set in correct positions.
For the last seven years I've had a bad rash on the upper part of my back. I've been bouncing off doctors and taken every medicine imaginable, from traditional antibiotics to alternative herbal treatments to trying diets and nothing works on it. It seems I can't do much about it except for wearing concealing clothes and trying not to scratch.
I am also prone to depression and neurosis with a few bad episodes along the way. As I grew older, I've learned to manage my moods better and also decided to take on a lifestyle that doesn't expose me to factors that make my psychological condition worse.
I live a pleasant life, I make my outfit shots as fairytale-esque and pretty as possible and I am passionate about many things which I share here --but listed above are important parts of my daily life, too.
My body is enduring
I've always been told I'm weak and shouldn't strain myself but it turns out that couldn't be farther from the truth. It took some mental effort for me to notice it, actually, but I finally did.
First time I decided to check this out, was a few years ago when I went to the mountains alone in the biggest cold of winter (we had the temperature drop to -37C one night) and for two weeks I was braving the often thigh-deep snow and going for six-eight hour long hikes almost everyday, and I felt physically great, not strained at all.
My body has nice proportions
I have long, kinda muscular legs that I love and a feminine shape that I am learning to embrace. I also know how to dress myself to show off the features I like best. I'm not too tall and not too short, and I'm ok with that. I'm not big and I try to acknowledge that, despite being raised to see myself as large and often compared to skinny women in my family.
When I gain weight, I tend to have my body fill all over the place, not in one particular area. I'm not boasting here. I admit that I just got lucky in this departament.
My mind is persistent.
I believe that the mind is a part of the body so I am including this trait here. When I get interested by something, I get passionate about it and will pursue it until I decide I've learned enough. I learned my long time occupation as a graphic designer all by myself (went to a few workshops that helped, too, it's only reasonable). I am a self taught sewist, constantly in training and getting better.
I crated an artistic and anthropological project focused on the image of the body among young people in Poland, and I talked at length with 100 people who wanted to take part in it, and photographed them. I required no help with it and did it all by myself.
It's not like the easy parts cancel out the hard parts or the other way round.
It's not like being aware of my good proportions makes me any less vulnerable to remarks on my weight and shape. I pretty much always feel that I should get smaller and I blame myself for not being stubborn enough to get there.
It's not like having a persistent mind will easily help me back away from an episode of depression. And it's not like having a tough body will ever make my PCOS or that weird rash go away.
But these things coexist in me and make me a multi-dimentional creature, just like any other person. I think there is a particular quality in it, even if it's nuanced and not easy to notice or desribe. In a way, and from a certain perspective, we are all normal and we all fit somewhere. And at the same time, it doesn't mean that if we are normal, we don't have any problems. Having problems is very much normal.
And again, I believe in being open and talking about it. If we talked more, we would be aware that all of us have certain stereotypes built in that we fight with. Everyone's got their own story to tell, their own battles won and lost and those never taken on. If you feel like you can relate to what I'd written, why not share your own experience in the comments below? Someone might read it and feel strengthened by our stories and openness. I have also created a link-up in case you wanted to write (or have already written) about your experiences on your own blog. Please link to my entry in your post if you do.
Po polsku niżej.