I’ve had an unpleasant relationship with my body for a long, long time. It started when I was very young — think single digits — and had something to do with TV. I’d look at the screen and see women I thought were lovely, and think (I shit you not, this is verbatim), “I believe I have her face.” Oh, how deeply the hooks sank in.
I don’t know how old I was when I actually dared to look in a mirror, but when I did — and I chickened out several times before I finally managed it — I experienced a profound sense of disappointment. My age was still within single digits, and I was never consciously aware of being taught to be unhappy with how I looked, but that’s the way advertising works, isn’t it? It’s fucking insidious that way.
It wasn’t until my 20s that I more or less came to terms with my appearance. I reasoned that I was stuck with what I had, and I might as well get used to it or be miserable forever. Being miserable sucks, so I opted to try for the former, and largely succeeded — or so I thought.
Two decades later, the tables have flipped, and not in a way I ever conceived they would.
It wasn’t until I tried on my first (too small) binder that I realised just how much I hated my chest. Really, really hated. I was relieved to see it gone. I also hate the way the rest of my bits look, even more than my chest, but there’s nothing short of drastic surgery I can do about that except not look at them, and, well, that doesn’t really help.
The other night, I altered my face with a makeup pencil, and for a moment I saw myself differently: for the first time, I was utterly thrilled at what I saw in the mirror. I looked Really Good to me, and it was an extremely odd feeling to have. If nothing else, it strengthened the tentative thoughts I’ve been having about myself the last few months, and confirmed that a certain doctor’s waiting list is where I should be.
To paraphrase my gyno: I’m 41 years old. If I’m going to live another 30 years, I might as well be happy for them.