Tuesday, 21 March 2017

On Body Image and Self Esteem

I am fat.
Well, duh. 
You only have to look at a photo of mine (not that are many) to see that, or to see me in person.
I am indeed fatter in real life. 
Camera angles and all that jazz.

But I wasn't always.

I grew up skinny as fuck.
Used to get teased about it.
I was bony.
I never developed like everyone else around me.
My first boyfriend in school was some kind of joke or prank. 
It was funny to people that I liked someone who pretended to like me too.
It just made me hate myself more for not being like everyone else.
And that wasn't the beginning.

In primary school having teachers joke about throwing me into the sharks at the aquarium.
Only to follow the joke up with "Nah, they'd just spit her out, nothing but bones"
I giggled. Thinking it was good attention.
Ah youth, how horrible you turn out to be in reflections huh.

But I spent an hour tonight looking at my old photos on Facebook.
Comparing them to a current one.
Trying to pinpoint where I started getting fatter.
Trying to pinpoint a cause.
Because it didn't make sense. 
It doesn't make sense.

When I left high school, moved out of home, I was more active than I had ever been.
And I had been a dancer in high school. 
I took up kickboxing for a while thinking it would help the beginning of my knee pain.
Thought hey strengthen the legs, should help knees.
I was going to the gym around lessons.
I was working retail, on my feet all the time.
I used to walk from Milsons Point to Central Station after work sometimes just because.
I eventually lost that job, quit the gym and kickboxing for personal reasons.
But I had been gaining weight the whole time.
Not a lot mind you. 
But because I had been so thin for so long people noticed almost right away.

Seeking medical attention for my knee problems which didn't seem to be going away was met with advice to lose weight.
So I dieted.
And dieted more.
I replaced working hours with exercise.
I damn near killed myself trying to lose weight.
But I kept gaining.
Again, not a lot, but enough that people noticed.

Then I started drinking and going out.
I never lost weight.
And the introduction of The Pill leveled it out a bit.
And I still hated myself.
But I'll touch on that in a few.

Because I quit drinking.
And I was so careful not to replace my addiction to drinking with another vice, like food.
I dieted more to be sure.
And I hoped to lose weight still.
Because alcohol is bad. And mixing it with soft drink makes you fatter yet.

But instead I got fatter.

Quitting drinking wasn't the only big change.
Because I stopped going clubbing.
I kept going for long ass walks taking photos, but I stopped clubbing.
Because people began to hate/dislike sober me.
I wasn't fun enough.
I should just drink.
So I stopped going out of my way to be around people who didn't like me.

It was about this time that I went into the Fetish Scene.
And holy body positivity.
But I still hated myself.

Between then and now I had my knee's get worse.
Only to find out it's a degenerative knee disability (though I still think I have a wrong diagnosis)
And I got fatter.

I guess the easy thing to blame for my weight is my knees. 
I don't do as much now, sure. 
But I can't blame it.
Others quickly jump to food, but if anything my relationship with food has improved over the past couple of years.

Because I may not be up doing a thousand things, I can't dance, I can't go for walks, but I push my body so much harder than I ever have.
I have to know my body so much better so I can try to predict if my knee's going to dislocate a little or a lot. 
I need to be able to get to a safe place despite a dislocation.
Not to mention the hell on my arms from trying to get around in a manual chair.
[This may be "easy" for 5 minutes, but try getting up a hill/ramp/curb after an hour of that]
And this will decrease a bit now because of my handy dandy Frankenchair (I know Frankenstein was the creator, and The Monster is just the Monster, but my chair needed a name)

So tonight I sat and compared my photos.
I cried.
Because I don't see anything of my old self in my current self.
But there are things I need to remind myself of.

1. You were 19/20 in those photos. You quit drinking at 21 and quit clubbing a few months into that.
2. You turn 28 in two months. You are creeping closer to 30. Of course your body and ability is going to be different. That's about 7 years difference man. Fuck.
3. You have a disability. One that you didn't know about. One that you tried to find out about. You hassled doctors. You tried to be taken seriously. Disability happens. And some days it sucks. But life is an asshole.
4. Think about all the things you've survived. Domestic Abuse. Stalking. Rape, More abuse. Shitty relationships. More shitty relationships. Shitty friendships. A stint of near homelessness. Moving a bazillion times. Unemployment. The changing face of employment. Adult education. Not so adult adults. Disability. Multiple disabilities. Starting to use mobility aids as an adult. More shitty fucking people. And all of this with a pretty fucking major mental illness, with the possibility of other things on the horizon. 
5. You hated yourself when you were thin. And when you were even thinner still.

Now this a point I will elaborate on.
Back in my drinking/clubbing days.
I had some confidence.
I had clothing I loved wearing, I loved doing my makeup big and out there.
I used to drink away my social anxiety. (Which is a big difference to sober me)
And I still hated myself.
Because I was not the same as everyone else.
I wasn't jealous as such. 
But I couldn't understand why I always watched everybody else happy and hooking up.
I couldn't understand why I never could.
By the time I got home after a night out I was in a rage.
I was depressed.
Because I was home alone. Again.
I could understand that I wasn't everyone's cup of tea. 
But I couldn't understand why I seemed like I was nobodies.

And it's weird for me to remember this. 
Because I also remember the relationships I did have.
Or all those make outs at clubs.
So I know it wasn't nobody.
I also remember the times where I was made to feel horrible when I didn't reciprocate anothers feelings of attraction.
And now I look back and think well, they likely felt the same way I did. The same way I still do.

I was skinnier. I was more abled. And I had a better wardrobe.
But I still hated myself.

So I am now.
Scared shitless of dating. Of seeing people in person.
Avoiding photos of my body.
Well, everywhere but Fetlife anyway.
Even at Fet events I feel more anxious and scared of people than I ever have been.
Less so because of my fat, but the disability.
But it's that same feeling.

Knowing logically that I am not everyones cup of tea, as everyone is not mine.
But feeling like that's kind of it for me.

So what do I do here?

1. Admit I'm scared shitless of people, Of the things they think and say.
2. Admit that sometimes the thought of leaving the house makes me want to cry.
3. Admit that I'm so scared of people laughing at me.
4. Acknowledge that some of this fear is something I can change within myself, with a lot of hard work, backwards steps, but doable.
5. Acknowledge that a large part of this is society as whole and it's perceptions of fat people and people with disabilities.
6. Do what I can to make event planners and venue owners aware that accessibility in general fucking sucks and try not to have a panic attack thinking about it. Seriously though, someone shouldn't have to turn down a social event because of accessibility anymore. There are so many events I would love to go to, especially fetish ones, but I'm stuck. I either use the manual chair, which I can lift/get help with up stairs if I need to, but not be able to get to and from the event. Or I use the power chair, meaning I can get around with relative ease, but can't get into a venue because stairs and unliftable chairs.
7. Keep taking those little steps forward. Even if you end up a few paces back, keep pushing. That's what you do with that stubborness, you push with it. 

8. Stop. Comparing. Stop comparing my 27 year old body to my 20 year old one. Stop comparing my body to hers, or his, or theirs. Stop comparing.
9. You loved that wardrobe? Get it back. I know you also love dressing down with geeky shirts. But you know you miss dressing up. Get back to it. I know it's harder to find good goth clothing in larger sizes, and larger sizes are pricy as fuck, but work at it.
10. Find some new goth boots you can use with both chairs. Because goth boots are badass as fuck.
11. Teach yourself not to apologise. This is your body. The only one you get (unless robots. I want robot knees). It is what it is. And it is fat. It is disabled. Hell, it's likely never going to be "healthy" by anyone elses standards so do whatever you want with it. Tattoo the fuck out of it (that one's non-negotiable, I've made too many plans for you to back out of that one because you're scared of tattooists laughing at your fat body)

But most importantly 12.
Have your bad days. Feel your feelings. Hate yourself. Today.
Tomorrow is another day. And it might be a shitty one too. But every day is another step.
Whether you feel like you owned it or just survived, that's still one more day you got through.

Hate yourself on those days. Be happy about yourself on others. 
Do what you need to do.
Self care when you need to.
You are not everyone's cup of tea. But will be some peoples. 

And if all else fails, you have Illidan (my furbaby), Books, Craft and Azeroth. 

I seem to have a thing with closing my eyes in photos. I have no idea.


  1. Thank you for writing this. Can relate to so much.

    Disability and chronic pain is a really huge factor in not being able to lose weight to help manage symptoms. Not that it does anything to help degenerative joint diseases...

  2. I think you rock, and are beautiful and I wish I was half as confidant as you. I am a big girl too but I always have been and if someone doesn't like me well then they don't have to be my friend, I don't care. You do what makes you happy that is all that matters.