self love: the body positivity edition

When my mum read my article on straight feminism (because yes, my mum reads all of my articles and also is super awesome, hi mum), pretty much the only thing she said to me about it was “You’re not ugly.” And yeah, I don’t know. This is something I wanted to talk about a little bit, so I think that’s what I’m going to do.

When I call myself ugly, I’m not saying that I’m irredeemably gross or something. I’m saying that by societal standards, I am not pretty. I’m just not. I’m fat and also quite tall, so I’m kind of a giant and I tower over most mortals. I have a bit of a weird face, and my eyesight sucks, so I’m perpetually squinting at everything which I’m told makes me look like I’m scowling / in a bad mood. I’m not delicate and little and pretty and easy to look at. Cool. So what?

I’m okay with that.

I haven’t always been. I used to hate myself. My body. I got teased in school for all kinds of things. I remember the first time one of the girls in the changing room pointed in horror at my unshaven legs and immediately began whispering about them, and how after that, I shaved them almost every night. I remember when one of my so-called friends casually referred to me as “a total whale” right in front of me and how much that stung. I remember the boys in my year throwing food at myself and my friends. I got hit in the jaw with an apple (and let me tell you, apples are very solid and they can hurt like hell when thrown with enough force). I guess you could say I was bullied, and it was this and a combination of my burgeoning mental health issues that actually lead me to just stop going to school. It took me a long time to get my life back on track after that: educationally, mentally, emotionally, etc.

My introduction to self-love, to not just tolerating my body but actively embracing it, has been a fairly recent development. It’s still sometimes rocky. Being queer doesn’t necessarily help with it, either. I mean, I feel like there’s a lot of emphasis in the lgbtqia+ community on appearances sometimes. A lot of this, most of it even, is external. There’s a general perception of queer men as glistening Adonises, and queer women as walking nymph-like fetishes. And I’m not the kind of girl you see in lesbian porn, lesbi-honest. Sometimes it feels like no one will ever want to be with me because of that, because I’m not hot or desirable or whatever it is that gay women are supposed to be.

But that’s okay too. I wouldn’t want to be with anyone who just liked me for the way I looked anyway. And it’s enough that I’m beginning to like me. This is my body. It’s wonderful. It keeps me going. It’s warm and soft, and I get to decorate it however I like. My boobs look great in almost anything, and I’ve been told I can pull off practically any shade of lipstick (it’s my super power). I have a great shampoo that makes my hair smell likes flowers, and I’m saving up for my next tattoo, which is going to look really good.

This body is one hell of a miracle, exactly the way it is. But most of all, it’s mine, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks of it.

What about you? Comment with your favorite things about your body. Let’s have a self-love party.

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Poppy is a queer person from Britain. She currently studies English at university and likes to talk at length about literary theory, sexuality and gender, body positivity, mental health, and her cats. She’s no fun at parties.