Before I go anywhere important, there is a certain allotment of time that I have to stand in the mirror. I check how my stomach looks at every angle and try to commit to muscle memory how hard I need to suck in that day. If I think there will be pictures taken, I practice my posture, arm placement, and body positioning that is most flattering for the outfit that I have on. I’ll change my outfit if I feel like I’ll be consumed with self-consciousness because I’m worried if I’m standing the right way. But even after hours of staring and picking apart my body, I have no idea what my body looks like.
I have it narrowed down to a range of what I think I look like. Like, I know I’m not sickly overweight, but I’m also not stick skinny. I’m of average build, but what am I closer to? I don’t have a huge ass, so I’m not thick. On the other hand, I have some curves to me so I’m not thin. I stare at other girls wondering if I look like they do. I try to picture myself standing next to them and compare angles in my mind. Even a two degree turn in the mirror can change my whole outlook on myself. I can feel the fake weight hanging down on myself. If I don’t take a mental picture of myself at the right angle, the only thing that will consume my mind for the rest of the day are barking instructions to myself, trying to keep my body in check. Stand up straight. Shoulders back. Not too far back. Hold your stomach in. Arms crossed in front to cover your body.
Social media has been absolutely no help. I scroll through my Instagram feed thinking about how hot every girl is and how I will never look like them. I meticulously search for incongruences in their pictures, praying for a sign of body editing. There’s no way that they really look like that. But what if I do look like them and I just don’t know? Or what if I don’t look like them and everyone else knows? In some pictures, I feel like no amount of Facetune could save me, and in others I don’t have to even put a filter on it. I wrestle for hours with which one is the real me. True candids of myself are never cute. I see myself in the background of pictures and shudder. I want to believe that I look as good as I do in posed pictures, but I don’t think I can.
Just for a moment, I want to see myself through the eyes of a stranger. Someone who hasn’t spent hours picking apart every last inch of my body. I want to know what they see when they look at me. I need a fresh pair of eyes. Eyes that don’t have a habit of finding something wrong, because there is always something. Just for five minutes, I don’t want to think about where every square inch of hair, skin, and fat is on my body. Even on days where I’m feeling myself, I’m still keeping myself in check. I don’t want to miss parts of lecture because I’m thinking about whether or not my posture is creating too many rolls. I don’t want to feel dizzy because I have been holding my breath and my stomach in for too long. I want to, you know, like, just live..
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