I’ve never been able to dance.
Public displays of movement terrify me. I stop breathing, thinking: Bodies are moving, ok, Rachel, it’s just, bodies are moving, there’s touching it’s just touching, go with it, just go with it, if you go with it, THIS IS WHAT DANCE IS, just go with it, make sure you go with it.
If you are someone who Goes With It, let me virtually shake your hand and then retreat quickly before you pull me into an intimate cute dancey moment with you. I cannot dance. I cannot dance because I have trouble admitting that I have a body.
This past day I’ve forced myself to put body shots of Kara on her Instagram. I’ve noticed that a lot of you are particularly good at taking your tops off, photographing your bras and making that look like a totally normal thing to do. It might BE a totally normal thing to do, if you do it. I don’t do it. I have never believed I have the body for that and it’s ok, but it does prevent me from photographing my bra.
Today I remarked to a friend of mine that I’ve been trying to pinpoint the moment in my life where I realized I would never be Dainty. When I was younger I used to watch Friends and imitate Jennifer Aniston’s gesticular thinness. She’d sit, one leg crossed over the other and I mean completely crossed over the other so that the knee of the bottom leg gently supported the knee of the top leg whose lower half fell gracefully to the side, waterfall-like in it’s flowing leggy-ness, hanging like a doll’s limb. My legs do not cross this way. My lower knee intersects with my top thigh. The incoming vericose veins scream HEY RACHEL WE’RE PART OF YOU NOW until my leg goes numb and I have to adjust.
Aniston would lean over her leg, “hunched” (but perfectly poised), handling her coffee mug with both hands, her wrists, and I remember her wrists vividly, would be dainty. They would just: Hinge. There was an absence of mass that some how compelled my eye to annotate to my brain that THIS is what a body should do.
And then, it was just another middle school day when I walked up and down the hallway, waiting for someone to notice me, my arms bent with my wrists in front of my chest, hinged, just hanging out for no reason at all. An older student stopped me to see if I was injured. I hid my hands and literally ran outside.
I have been humiliating my body my whole life. Kara has the exact same body as me. Somehow, in two weeks, she’s become incredibly proud: breasts, stomach, legs, hands, this is a body, MY body and aren’t I great. SHUT UP KARA it’s MY body! I gave her that body! I am so confused now! Aren’t I supposed to be dainty? When did I realize that I would never be dainty? How is it that Kara doesn’t even try?
Have you ever provoked your collar bones into protruding from your shoulders? Not in a painful way, just in that postured way, shoulders forward, bones jutting if they can manage to, out of the neckline of the dress or shirt that allows you to prove that you are boney too even if, even if IF if you can’t cross your legs without hurting yourself: The collar bone will prove you are dainty. I do it all the time. I wonder about my collar bones all the time. I contort my seated position to show off a bone, a bone we all have, but, really, here’s mine because I’m dainty.
I am not dainty. This morning I posted a Rachel body shot. I was stretching and it occurred to me that my hips might not be flexible enough to birth a child. In honour of mother’s day, I shared a version of that sentiment with the internet. I don’t look dainty in the picture. I’m not posing daintily. I look like I can’t stretch far beyond the limits of a sixty-year old woman. I posted the picture anyways. It’s just my body. It’s just a body. Look at it.
The sexy versions of my body seem to belong to a character I’ve invented. I don’t know how to accept that the Sexy Body and Stretching Body are the same body. They are my body. I’ve found my body. I’ve just given it to another woman.
I had a hair removal appointment today. If you’ve never waxed your leg and pubic hair, you don’t know disgrace. It’s perfectly fine and normal to pay for such a service but the event of being vagina-naked, sitting on a piece of paper which keeps sticking to your skin and ripping because hair wax is really just the tangible laugh of the devil, always left on the skin, always picking up pieces of that hygenic paper that really can’t be doing much, it’s just an awkward time. If you’re like me and you have fat, you’re asked to move it during the process, tightening it here and there so that the hair can be removed more efficiently. The appointment ends and I am mentally jiggling. Do thin women have to harness their own fat during these appointments? I will never know. Usually it bothers me. Today, I looked in the mirror after the appointment and I didn’t see myself as fat. I didn’t see myself, actually. I don’t know who I saw. But, the body, found over and over again during this appointment, was merely watching me when I looked at it. My body was no longer a surprise. The pictures have changed something.
Part of me is uncomfortable posting body shots because I feel it’s a little too expository for my taste. I’m not really one to love attention or to invite a gaze. I feel good posting these pictures, though. I feel a little rebellious. I look at Kara’s pictures and I don’t judge her but I don’t recognize her. I look at my pictures and I don’t judge myself but I don’t recognize myself either. I’m on a bridge. I’m enjoying creation. I am benefiting from creation. But, I am rebelling against my usual patterns of thinking. Something is clearly found. My body, maybe. But, then wouldn’t I recognize it? I can’t. I’m so used to expecting it to look dainty and then realizing it isn’t dainty. I’m so used to denying my true physique.
I know body dysmorphia isn’t a unique topic and it extends itself to men and women alike. The truth I’ve found is, we cannot see our bodies for what they are because we don’t take time to find them. A mirror is nothing. A childhood memory of chubbiness is nothing. But, these photographs are remarkable for their diversity, their endlessness and their proof of exploration. One angle, two angle, three and on and on, the body moves and without movement it isn’t a body. We can’t know it, we can’t see it if we don’t explore it’s dance.
It’s funny, I was listening to Ani Difranco today who I have loved and admired for ten years. It’s so fitting that one of my favourite quotes is from her song Evolve, a beautiful testament to the mastery of womanhood, I love and I hear when she sings:
“It took me too long to realize
That I don’t take good pictures
’cause I have the kind of beauty that moves”
I heard her first when I was eighteen. Ten years later, I get it.
This blog is updated daily, detailing my transformation into a fictional character who is being crafted for a larger theatrical project. If you like it, please share to social media, follow the blog and come back soon
You can read Kara’s blog at http://www.okkarablog.wordpress.com
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