Summer Musings: Here we go again – body image issues.


mirror, mirror on the wall
chipping me away as I call
into a 2-D picture I fall
mirror, mirror on the wall

my hair is off by a few strands
my clothes wrinkled the wrong way
my jeans are old and out of style
my eyes are lost; I can’t see myself

I am a person in a body
a body in a soul
you can’t print me as a copy
fracture me into pixels on a screen

I am flesh
and blood
and breath
and bones
stars moving
underneath my skin
bringing me home

this space I occupy is who I am
this body I move in is who I am

I am 3D
fucking 3D

mirror, mirror on the wall
you will no longer trap me
inside your halls

it’s no use – you’re too small
mirror, mirror on the wall

guess who’s the fairest
of them all

Listening to this while I blogged:

I wrote this last night. Earlier this week, some of my old insecurities came back. I have always struggled with body image issues – I’m sure this is a common experience for girls growing up in a world saturated with artificial images of beauty programming our brains to perceive our flaws and measure our bodies against an image product on a screen or a magazine cover. Those images of beauty – that’s really what they are. Products. They are produced by a team of photographers, make-up artists, specific angles and techniques meant to capture a person’s visual, strip it of her flesh and blood and trap her in a two dimensional frame. It’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it – us comparing our bodies and basing our self worth on something that can only exist on a piece of paper.

I guess I’ve always been a skinny girl. Going through puberty, I put on some weight but it wasn’t really “weight”. I was slightly chubby (maybe not even, but is this also judgement?) Anyway. Long story short, I’ve always wanted “anime legs”, which was the standard of beauty that I grew up with – skinny Asian school girl legs that look good in thigh-length socks and adorable mini skirts. Being born with a wide pelvis didn’t really help me with my confidence. But I’m mostly over that now – after I started exercising, my body became more defined and closer to the way I wanted it to look, and I felt confident just from being productive and having taken care of my fitness. So yay.

I was talking to my bestie the other day (Prem, if you’re reading this, hey) and without really going into her story, we talked about how it’s important to love ourselves for who we are and what we look like, but it is also important to embrace that it isn’t egotistic or insecurity-driven to want to look fit or good for yourself. I 100% agree. The more I trained my body to become stronger and more “streamlined”, the more confident I grew and it wasn’t really because of “oh now I look fit” – it was more like, I feel confident because I achieved this with hard work. I spent time and energy doing this so I’d feel better – better not just for the shape but also feeling less like a wimp that would pant heavily after a simple flight of stairs. I’ve never been atheistic and it’s good to know that I’m exercising my physical self so I feel stronger all around.

Anyway. This is actually totally beside the point I am trying to make! More than body image issues that have to do with my actual body, I actually am more affected by the way I dress. I always have this fear that I don’t look mature enough or fashionable enough, especially in professional settings. I worked as an English tutor and teacher for the most part of my life and I always struggled with this. Dressing up “formal” never really resonated with me. I didn’t hate it but it just wasn’t me, and how I like to dress is really a cool and tasteful t-shirt, real simple, like a plain white T, with skinny jeans, sketchers, and like, a quirky cat scarf. I always told myself that I couldn’t dress the way I wanted to in front of my students, so I always just ended up feeling extra bland. Thinking to myself: Do I look like a kid? If you’ve looked at my profile picture, I have a total baby face and the first things that people wonder about me are usually my age.

“You still going to school?” Especially in a professional setting, since I was an English teacher and I was supposed to “look” like a teacher. I was supposed to look…old and boring? I suppose? Would that be the stereotypical image of a tutor?

It’s really dumb. I could wear the same jacket that I thought looked cool the other day but I would think it’s shitty and awkward the next. A lot of my insecurities get projected onto my clothes or my fashion choices. That’s why, exasperated, I wrote that poem, hoping to express myself through that analogy – I’m not 2D. I’m not a picture on a flat screen. I’m not a piece of paper. I’m flesh and blood. Blood and bones. I’m a person with organs and ideas and thoughts and dreams inside.

It’s honestly fucking annoying lol. I’m human, I cannot completely unplug myself from the world’s pervasive ideas of beauty. I guess I know that feeling insecure from time to time or tripping on the same old rock isn’t necessarily an indicate of self-sabotage, or the fact that I’ve failed, or that once again I have to do intensive shadow work or healing work or release work or that I’ve experienced a set-back. At this point in my journey, I feel that whenever I feel insecure or triggered by these “2D” things, I just tell myself that, yup, it’s the same old rock again, but you’re stronger now. You’re much more flexible and nimble at dealing with these incessant probing. Those tiny tentacles poking at your confidence aren’t going to bother you or consume you. You’re a bigger person. You’ve leveled up.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is…I guess I’ll still be tripping on those stupid rocks from time to time. I would probably collapse into a heap of tears back then, like on the inside. (I was super insecure but it wasn’t like I was ugly-crying every time I caught a glimpse of myself in my own reflection on a store window lol) But now, I would grunt, and then I dust myself up and go, “meh” and I keep moving.

Life is still awesome and so am I. I know that. I know that in my heart.

As I was finishing up this blog post, a memory came to me:

Kim, your score is like, 80/100, but why do you dress like 60/100? 

Score being like, my appearance.

I *JUST* remembered that a friend of my mom said that to me. Just look at that judgmental bullshit. No wonder I’m so sensitive to the way I dressed. I was a sensitive kid – words could easily affect me and put a dent on my sense of self when I was younger. And I also remember friends, roommates commenting on my dress-code, insinuating that I wasn’t dressed old enough for my age or professional enough for my career. I also remember that I totally blogged about this before. These things always circle their way back to me. I mean, they hold less and less power each time, but I admit that I just get really frustrated when I’m tripping on the same old rock over and over. 

Kim, what did you just say to yourself? Read what you’ve just written. Do it. Do iiiiiit.

Transformation is HARD WORK. Unlearning my childhood conditionings is HARD WORK. It’s a choice that I have to make every single time. I have to reign in my focus, pull it towards a better thought. I’m sure with time I’ll get used to it. I still get frustrated and annoyed. But I’m fine at the end.

That’s another thing I want to quickly mention – I think it’s totally ok to feel frustrated and annoyed at yourself. Spirituality doesn’t need to look like all rainbows and ponies (I mean, nothing wrong with that – I love that shit). I just mean like just let yourself be human. Get mad at yourself a bit. You’re not less self-loving if you do. I think you’re actually more self-loving if you just allow yourself to feel whatever you want and need to feel.

And after you get mad, pat yourself on the back, make a cup of tea and find something to be happy about! Gabrielle Bernstein said that it’s about how fast you can come back to love. That’s what determines your spiritual progress.

Alright, I’m done rambling. Kimber Kimber Kim Kim, OUT.

P.S. I want to write another blog post about inner child, soon!!!

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