My Body, This Blog, This Fire

[1] In keeping with my annual tradition, I’m sharing with the internet what is on my mind as one Gregorian year closes and another begins.

In some ways, my life changed drastically this year, but in other ways, it did not. It’s those lack of changes that trouble me as 2013 closes. Moving, changing my physical location, my job, did not change me much, because these things are external to me. I’ve always been very good at keeping to myself when the world changes around me.

But, I ask, who am I?

I have spent a lot of time resenting my body — that I I have one at all; that I have to take care of it, cut my hair, exercise, eat; that other people judge me for it, my perceived gender, my size, my clothes; that I don’t like the way it looks; that the older I get the more it seems to hurt and ache.

I feel trapped inside it. I feel weakened by it. It is a limitation and a hindrance.

I prefer to think of myself as filled with gears and lights and wires instead of fragile organs and bones and tissue that will eventually  wear down and die. As I start 2014, I am sick with a head cold that has knocked me flat, and I wonder if this is my body’s way of telling me something, telling me that it matters, telling me that resent it all I like, it’s still just as much a part of me as my sense of humor or my intellect or my friendships or the rest of existence reflected in me.

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How “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” Ruined My Life

I never talk about this. Ever. Because it’s something I really, really don’t like about myself.

I have body image issues.

No, I’ve never been “overweight.” I don’t have any kind of scarring to be self-conscious about. I’m not disfigured. In fact, I look pretty normal, slender even, and what should be important is that I’m in good health.

But if I’m perfectly honest with myself, most days, I don’t really like the way I look. I avoid getting my picture taken. I hide behind makeup. I’ve worn a bathing suit exactly three times since I was 13 and never really in public.

There is, of course, the simple fact that I hate having a body at all. I want to be a brain in a vat. I hate the maintenance that comes with having a body – bathing, hair care, having to trim my fingernails, eating, exercising. I’d really rather not do any of it, because it takes away precious thinking time.

Yes, I know this sounds absurd. I’m also not unconvinced I wouldn’t feel this way if I had a male body.

Iris Marion Young wrote this great piece entitled “Throwing Like A Girl” in which she talked about the ways women comport themselves, like how they sit with their legs crossed and try to take up less space, and how they don’t use their bodies to their physical capacity, size, or strength. Instead of being a subject who can harness their body’s power, female-bodied people live their bodies as objects, and they are constantly aware of threats to their bodily integrity and invasions of their bodily space.

I have no idea what it’s like to go through the world with a male body, but as a female-bodied person, I can tell you that I am very, very aware of the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of my body.[1] I can also tell you that I am hyperaware that my body is an object I possess, and the negative feelings I associate with this awareness always seem to culminate in my body’s appearance in some way or another.

I don’t know if it’s like this for all female-bodied people or if it exists for male-bodied people, too.

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