Body politics, loving myself and queerness: How my body became my home
No matter how far we go in life, miles or achievements, no matter who or what we call our safe place, where we choose to reside, and no matter if we lose that place, thing or person… The one thing that remains always is our bodies. No matter what, our bodies are our homes. Our bodies are our unwavering, rock solid constants until our last spin around the sun.
Our bodies have taken us through the good and the bad, the thick and the thin, through sickness and through health.
It breathes, pumps our blood and nourishes us to see another day. The way our flesh vessels care for us is unconditional!
So, we really do owe our bodies that same care and love back.
Our relationship to our bodies is such a tricky journey. A journey that most of us have been on and one we will continue to be on for the rest of our lives.
Since we were children, we have been taught to see our bodies as good bodies or bad bodies. The value of our bodies dictated by beauty, width, height, so called ‘imperfection’. Yet we take for granted, the simple yet mundanely magical purposes our bodies have.
I have always been a bigger bodied person. Being socialized as a woman and growing up in a world where my body was sexualized and only validated by it’s ability to fit in with current beauty standards, as well as early childhood sexual assault, left me with eating disorders. Binge eating, bulimia and anorexia. My build is wide and curvy so it was kept unnoticed.
Along with these unpleasant relationships to my body, I also knew from a young age that I was queer which definitely fuelled a feeling of alienation that I had already attached to being a chubby kid.
Changing rooms in an all girl’s school was a nightmare! Trying to change while making sure the other kids saw as little of my body as possible. I kept my eyes to the ground out of respect to the other girls dressing because although I wasn’t out of the closet, I knew I was queer.
Around thirteen years of age, I knew I was nonbinary. A mix of being genderfluid and agender. I didn’t have the language at the time but I knew it was something I felt strongly inside me. An innate knowing.
I began to experiment with more masculine and androgynous styles of clothing. But my curvy build didn’t suit any of those styles and back then clothes retailers and designer’s clothes were even less accessible for plus size people than nowadays!
I felt dumpy and frumpy in all those masculine clothes and realised I received more attention and praise when I dressed in skin tight clothes that showed off my breasts, hips and bum so I went deep into a femme look, all the while knowing my gender identity would not be validated by what I chose to wear.
At eighteen I finally found the queer scene in Sydney and it felt like home. I found my community with queers of all different gender expressions and trans folk of all different genders. I explored the different language that let me understand my feelings and deep innate understandings of myself. I wasn’t alone! I was never alone, all along – even when I was.
Through the queer community, there was a questioning of norms. Society had a history of putting queer and trans folk on the fringe. Queers questioned heteronormativity, gender, gender roles and visual presentation. They also question beauty standards. This is how I was introduced to body politics.
I was introduced to other fat identified and bigger body individuals of all sexualities and genders who knew that beauty standards were a result of colonialism and the enforcement of these ‘rules’ were a product of capitalism.
I would call the queer, trans and fat communities my home for a while but now I know that they were just my neighbourhood. A neighbourhood that I loved and felt safe in.
And from the moment I found my neighbourhood, I was on the hunt for my home.
My home, of course, is my body and I had just moved in. Properly. I was for the first time truly present in my body. Aware and alive in my body. Not ashamed. Not trying to take less space or make myself smaller. But embracing my beautiful body as it was, in all it’s glory. The body that kept me alive for all those years finally was living fully!
It’s been a process of having to tell myself that I am valid. I am okay. I am beautiful.
That cliched saying “Fake it ‘til you make it” was step one for me. I took that leap of faith of choosing me. Choosing myself and my body, right now, in this moment the way it is.
And choosing myself everyday.
It’s a difficult choice to make when the world around you tells you that you should strive for an idea of unreachable, impossible perfection. True perfection is in the moment and right now is the moment.
I believe, like most things, including mental health, self development and growth, self love and body acceptance, these things are a life long process. A life long commitment to put yourself first.
Don’t be afraid to love you first before anyone else.
In this way, we become better friends, better family members, teachers, leaders, pioneers. Through loving ourselves first, we love others with broader, more accepting perspective.
And part of loving yourself, is loving the vessel you came into this world with.
Continue to choose you.