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Today during a class break we were talking about blogs, and one kid said that his problem with blogs, and also with journals, is that he reads his own writing after he’s written it and it all seems so self-indulgent. And I said that, when I know that something’s going to be really horribly self-indulgent, I’ll put in warning to the reader (and to myself, I guess) saying so.
WARNING: This is one such post.
I’ve been talking a lot about body and self-image here, because I am in a small group of young people and that is one of the things that small groups of young people do. And I always find myself in these conversations saying things like, “The only thing that matters is that you feel healthy,” or, “It’s dangerous and foolish to focus on a number on a scale,” or, “You have to love the body that you have,” or, “I used to get so upset about the way I look—about my face—and then I realized that that’s silly, because this is my face, and as soon as I came to terms with that I became much happier.” I’m the Mo’Nique of these discussions, basically.
Except that I’ve found myself worrying about how my body looks since coming to Germany. And staring in the mirror at my face from different angles, and wishing that it looked differently in this regard or that. And wondering what it would be like to look more like this person or that person and less like me. And all of this brings about this very strange cognitive dissonance (disclaimer: I am only, like, seventy percent sure that this is actually the correct term, because I took psychology class two years ago and did only alright) between the person that I am when talking about body and self image—a person who is totally at peace with how she looks—and the person I am left with when I look in the mirror—who is decidedly not.
And I’m not sure if I’m writing this in order to come clean with myself. Like, “You’re not Mo’Nique, self. You can’t just look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re beautiful and worthy and believe it just because she told you to on that one VH1 or E! (you know you don’t remember which it was) special on body image in Hollywood that you watched that one time.” Or because it is easier to say in writing, “I am sometimes not happy with my body and face and hair and whatever else, and I’m not happy that I’m not happy with that” than to say it out loud.
But I am sure that, while it is true that I became much happier when I stopped regularly putting myself down for my appearance, to myself and to others, I think there’s also happiness to be found in honesty, and confidence to be felt in admitting to oneself—to myself—that there’s confidence wanting. Happiness and confidence and—who knows?—maybe even beauty.