My first surgery scars came in high school from putting my shoulder back together after a weird overuse accident. (labral tear-- the tissue that holds the ball and socket in place was torn from the bone) After being misdiagnosed for eight months the three one-inch-long scars felt like battle scars. A year later I had a breast reduction, three pounds and some drainage tubes later I’ve got almost two feet of faint pink scars. I have yet to meet a man who noticed my scars until about a month of pillow talk later… it’s been quite the confidence booster. My other surgery scars are from having my appendix plucked out a few years after that. The scars are consistent with an ovary removal, but luckily it was my appendix that was infected and dying instead. The surgical scars could almost count as battle scars -- except my belly and boobs have faced no trauma.
What men have noticed are my stretch marks… on my arms, the underside of my upper arms, up to my armpits. I’ve even encountered a few over my shoulders. Moving down, I have those crazy pregnancy stretch marks all over my belly, my hips, and creeping around to my low back and sides of my waist. Of course my outer thighs haven’t been excluded, and my inner thighs have just begun to catch on to the stretch mark idea. (They’re also big on the rub-together heat rash during sun dress season) Stretch marks on my boobs are a given, but they are fainter in the years since the reduction.
I love wearing tank tops, but they often show off both boob stretch marks and the awkward underarm and shoulder stretch marks. This means tank tops are only ever for confident days. (regardless of whether or not I’ve shaved my pits in the last week or not) My legs are very skinny (in relation to the rest of me) and are glow in the dark white, and my belly looks like it has a stress-beer-pizza baby growing in it. On my not-confident days I feel the need to find a bigger shirt to cover my belly and upper arms and a way to cover my legs down to my toes. (And obviously keep that belly covered, no peek-a-boo allowed!) Often I have to skip one (I mean, 95 degrees plus humidity for a huge chunk of the year…) and then if I’m not careful I’ll have a near-meltdown in a bathroom over my white legs showing, my shoulder stretch marks showing, my clothes being too tight across my belly… myself conforming to the shame that society places on fat people, and the overwhelming desire to hide my "unacceptable" body from other people's potentially judging eyes.
I am fully aware that I’m embarrassed by my body (size, stretch marks) but that I’ve personally conquered the hair and scars that adorn me. I try my best to think and talk positively about my body, and to think and talk positively about all bodies. But this is always a work in progress. It will always be a work in progress. You have to love your body before you can change anything. You have to love your body before you can lose weight in a non crash-diet; you have to love your body before you can love the clothes you put on yourself; you have to love your body before you can truly love your partner’s body. You have to love your body before you can better your body. You must accept your flaws and your fat, your high cholesterol and your overbearing depression, your aching joints and your crippling anxiety. You must accept you.
To the CFF community -- what about your wonderfully imperfect body have you been able to accept and overcome? What has been the most challenging aspect you’ve worked on? What have you worked on and not conquered?
Need more body-love inspiration images? http://bust.com/fck-your-beauty-standards-16-body-positive-illustrations-to-boost-your-self-love.html#.U0Q37K1dU6F
(yep, you can buy your own print at the link!)