Last year I came across a Christmas home video from the year I turned thirteen. Cheerfully I watched images of myself opening presents, the snow outside pouring down and little yappy dogs taking up equal amount of screen time. The camera fell on me as I opened an obvious clothing box and pulled out a pair of stretch pants. In the years before leggings became the cool new thing, these were some strange crossbreed between sweat pants and corduroy with an elastic waist. My ego-drive teenage self was probably wondering if she could exchange them for something cuter, or maybe she was trying to be grateful that she got anything at all. You couldn't tell by the smile on my face.
But that smile faded immediately when from behind the camera came the sound of laughter, followed by: "They're stretchy, so they'll actually fit you."
But I still wore those stretch pants. Because none of my other clothes fit me. I wasn't the fattest person in my family by far, nor was I the smallest. Everyone else seemed to look good in their skin regardless of weight - at least to me. But looking in the mirror, wearing those stretch pants, I learned to hate my body.
My body was wrong. Nothing fit. And for some reason, that was funny.
I'm not angry at others in the past for their teasing remarks. They didn't know better. Society conditions people to react in shaming ways toward bodies that aren't ideal. But I am angry at the fact that this moment in my life (just one of many) shaped the way I relate to my body and it's appeal to others. It's taken years of self discovery to fully understand something that I wish I had known at thirteen MY BODY IS NOT HERE TO PLEASE YOU.
My body is pleasing to me.
The way my favorite black tank top fits snuggle against my curves. The fact that my ass looks equally great in a pair of denim capris as it does in hot pink boyshort underpants. Every freckle and every scar. The raised inked skin outlining each tattoo. The texture of my stretchmarks and the curves and dimples in every single roll.
It's only when I look in the mirror and think, "What does the world see?" that I find myself looking for the imperfections, suddenly eager to hide myself away from public view.
It's why the body acceptance movement is so important.
Women (and men) of all shapes and sizes are forced to interact with others who are sadly educated by the idea that your body is wrong because it's not what is ideal in my head. Fat women are put through and onslaught of hate, shaming and even the "concern" of others in regards to their health. Thin women are often told to eat more. Short women are given advice on how to look taller and tall women are gawked at for even considering buying heels.
For some reason people think it's their business to question the decisions we make about our bodies. But my health, my weight, my shape and my body is as much your business as my hot pink underpants are: NONE.