Whenever I decide to write about self-love, I always hesitate.
This is partially because I am an enormous hypocrite. It’s easy for me to recognize the beauty and style in those around me. When I shop with my friends and they debate over whether they should try on that short dress, or that sleeveless shirt, I’m always the first to say, “Go for it! You’re gorgeous!” When I look at somebody, the lovely color of their hair, the interesting shape of their eyes, the attractive flare of their hips or softness of their faces is always obvious to me. It’s the simplest thing in the world, to look at the people walking past you and find them unique and brilliant.
Much harder to find that same appreciation in the mirror, though.
I make it my habit to walk frequently through stores and try on tons of clothes, but I never buy, because I never look perfect. It doesn’t matter if that dress is twelve dollars. If I wear it outside, the general public will point and scream, dear God! That girl is too short for that pattern! I can see where her belly pooches out! Somebody call the police, or the fire department! She’s burning my eyes with her average physique! SHE’LL GIVE US ALL FASHION LEPROSY. WE’LL DIE. WE’RE DYING. WE’RE DEAD.
And in the dressing room, as this scene plays out in my mind, throngs of people clawing their faces in terror because I have cellulitey legs, I decide that mmmaybe I’ll just put this back on the rack and save it for somebody who has a flatter tummy, and whose legs aren’t so white as to draw the attention of passing satellites.
The weird thing is that I don’t actually think I have an awful body. I can look at it objectively and go, “Oh, hey, I have a waist! That is a nice thing to have.” I can try to rate myself on the 10 scale (I don’t recommend this) and come up with a number that isn’t in the negatives. I am pretty dang standard, but as soon as I try to dress above my ‘attractiveness rating’ I get nervous.
I think this is because a woman’s confidence can be seen as an inherently dangerous thing. If a woman proudly posits that her ears were, in fact, carved by artisan Gods, people will give her The Look. You know The Look. The ‘Mm, do you really think you can afford to say things like that? Are your ears really that fantastic? In fact, I think one is bigger than the other. Hey, Barbara, look at this girl’s ears, don’t you think one is too big?” Rather than deal with the heartbreak of somebody tearing down her assumptions, the woman with the fabulous ears will keep her confidences to herself, becoming ashamed of her own pride in a weird cycle of non-esteemy esteem.
What it boils down to is this: I am okay with my body, but I don’t want other people to know that I am okay with my body, because then they will notice it, and what if they discover something that is not okay? And then if they think I am okay with something that really isn’t okay, they’ll think I’m a snob, or a bitch. They’ll think I’m one of those blindly self-praising girls who thinks she’s all that. They’ll tell everybody else that that’s what I am. A girl who thinks she is all that, when I am not all that at all, I’m not even a little bit that! And then everyone will talk about me behind my back and I’ll never get asked to prom and nobody will ever approve my housing loans.
I am not afraid of people thinking I am ugly.
I am afraid of people thinking that I am presumptuous.
This is why I am eager to beat The Universe to the punch, to explain that oh, no, don’t worry. I know my nose is weird and blobby and crooked. I get that my fingers are the size and shape of chewed-on cigars. It’s cool. I’m cool. I don’t think I’m ‘above my station’ or anything. I’m being realistic here.
And the really weird thing?
I have never in my life thought that somebody was being too confident in their appearance*. I have absolutely zero basis for this irrational fear, but since when has anybody ever been rational about their bodies?
It’s a conundrum, and I’m a hypocrite, but hey. I’m working on it.
In the meantime, I am getting my pep talks from places like Already Pretty, Daddy Likey, and Chicken Soup For The Dorky Soul. If you thought you looked entirely too fat in that fabulous skirt from Goodwill, I would encourage you to go read a bit about beautiful unconventional women who are unashamed of their talent and appearance.
How do you feel about expressing your body-confidence? Happy? Nervous? No body-confidence to speak of? Express!