I can go through weeks without actually seeing myself in a mirror. Looking at my reflection without actually seeing myself is a skill I learned early on.
In fact, I could even describe it as a survival tactic.
Even when, owing to my budding feminist consciousness, I began to proclaim to myself that my body with all its odd growths and patches and bulging and unruliness was “okay”, I would wonder to what extent it would be seen as such by others. And I’m not referring here to society at large, but rather other self-proclaimed feminists.
I do often wonder how the language used in statements of self and bodily acceptance – that our bodies are beautiful “too”, that it’s “okay” to be what are and that yes, we’re “normal” – can further entrench feelings of alienation.
When I say that I do not care for nor judge other women’s bodies and choices, am I not implicitly acknowledging that these women are odd and do deviate from the norm? We certainly cannot deny that these norms exist, but I cannot shake off the feeling that the dominant approach to bodily acceptance that I’ve internalised contributes to their existence.
But what is the alternative? Can we truly find acceptance and healing through proclaiming to ourselves that no, we’re neither okay nor normal? And aren’t I forgetting how the seeds of self-hate were sown in the first place, and who’s reaping the benefits?
And finally, while I continue to judge myself harshly, am I not by extension judging all other women? If I continue to believe that there are minimal standards of womanhood that I must adhere to, then where does that leave you?