I can’t have been more than 7 when my grandma offered to pray that God wouldn’t let me get any more moles. I don’t remember much after that except a sudden surge of anger (the type that often led my mum to lecturing me on self-control during my childhood), followed by me storming out of the room. I was incredibly insulted and, perhaps for the first time, made to feel that awful self-consciousness that continues to develop as we grow.
A few years later, after putting on negligible weight while on holiday, I suddenly became conscious of body fat. And at the onset of puberty my nose became a burden that I literally had to carry with me wherever I went. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t leave the house without make-up and I was constantly re-evaluating how my clothes worked with my figure.
When everything you own has to fit on your back, when you have to choose comfort over style, and when budget restrictions mean any nonessentials you have need to be used sparingly, your looks take a back seat. And you know what: repeated exposure to your frumpier, I mean more natural, self kinda makes you accept what you see.
I had never worn a sports bra before beginning this adventure. Now I don’t wear anything else. Couple that with the baggy band Tees I acquired at Groezrock and I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever been. No need to worry if my boobs look good, if my top’s riding up, if bits of me are bulging in the wrong places. It’s like the freedom I felt when I used to strap my chest and run around the house in my flatmate’s clothes… except this isn’t a costume. It’s just me.
Likewise, by restricting myself to wearing only sunscreen on my face most days, that person in the mirror with the uneven skin tone is no longer someone I cringe from. I can walk down the street without feeling naked or ashamed. And all I need is a little eyeliner to feel fancy. How cost effective is that?!
I even managed to reclaim my nose back in Amsterdam by getting it pierced. I’m taking control, I’m comfortable with the body I was born with. I’m feeling happier and freer than ever. Plus shaking off the gender expectations makes the feminist in me pretty darn pleased with herself.
Of course we’ll see how long it all lasts when I settle down and can begin collecting pretty stuff again. But I will fight to bring this new found acceptance with me. I don’t want to lose my self-confidence again, a confidence I haven’t felt since my pre-teen years. This is me, and I’m finally happy with it.