This title is problematic, because let’s face it – all bodies are weird. It’s weird that our skin is our largest organ; it’s weird that we see things upside-down and back to front, and our brain corrects it for us; it’s weird that after meeting a person several times, our brain corrects their face to be more symmetrical in our mind’s eye. On the other hand, if all bodies are weird, are they really weird at all?
Cleft thumbs are strange. You know what’s even more strange? I only have one. Most people have two. I wouldn’t say I love my cleft thumb, but I like it in a strange, kind of satisfying way. I like not being able to fit rings over my first thumb segment because it’s too wide. I like showing people and holding up my cleft thumb and my normal thumb side by side, joints aligned until they’re not, one nail left behind as the other thumb stretches up past it, like a tall tree.
I’ve recently developed a little horizontal wrinkle just North of my bellybutton, where my stomach folds when I bend over – and I love it. Who finds wrinkles attractive? Somebody, I’m sure. I got botox to avoid forehead wrinkles, but I’m in love with my little belly button wrinkle. Beauty magazines really have a hold on us, hey?
I have a prominent bone on the outer-topside of my wrists – and I like them for some reason. It reminds me of those Tiffany and Co. solid gold bracelets designed by Elsa Peretti (coincidentally called a bone cuff), which although we all have skeletons and all have the same wrist bones, feels very feminine – particularly to me. I’m not a very feminine woman, but my wrists are.
The tip of my nose has a really tiny dip on either side above my nostrils – and I feel a great satisfaction when I can rest the pad of my finger on the top. I’ve never seen it on another nose, and although I’ve always despised my nose because it’s big and crooked, I’ve always loved that aspect of it – proving that you can dislike your body, but like it at the same time.
I’ve always liked my ankles, even though they’re not particularly skinny, and I have such a high arch/topside of my foot that I had to get custom made ski boots. But do I like them? Hell yeah. They’re my feet. A retired ballerina’s feet.
Why do I like these things about myself? I have absolutely no idea.
I think it’s important to like things about your body that aren’t conventionally attractive. As women we are taught that femininity is having a long, slim neck; a small waist but full hips (but not too full); a full bust that does not adhere to the gravitational pull; long, shapely legs with tiny ankles, and preferably tiny feet at the bottom; graceful hands that taper off with a slim finger and an oval-shaped nail – and good cuticles. For some reason, these things equal femininity, which we are taught equals beauty.
Obviously that description could be straight out of the 1940’s, and we have well evolved past what that idea of beauty is, but underneath it all, that underlying image still remains. Burnt into our brain, even, because especially as women, we are told that above all else, we should be pretty. It’s how we will get our partners, and through that make children. What a primitive train of thought.
The fact is, a very small percentage of women look like that. And the ones that do, probably wished they looked a little different (the grass is always greener). The concept of beauty is ever changing, and set up to make us doubt ourselves. Beauty magazines make us buy products that make us slimmer, fatter, curvier, smoother, trendier to fit in with what “society” dictates, only for the rug to be pulled out from under us in five years’ time when beauty standards change. There is a reason why Kim Kardashian was not popular in the early 2000’s, and Paris Hilton was, even though they were on the same scene.
Fact is, our bodies are weird and different and unusual and unique, and maybe it’s time we start celebrating all the things that we actually like about our bodies – simply because we like them – than celebrating the parts of our bodies that fit in with the conventional idea of beauty.
I don’t think we have to pretend to like our stretch marks because “they’re beautiful” or “tiger stripes”, or like our freckles because they’re like “stars in the sky” (even though I love my freckles forever and ever). It’s okay to not like things about your body. You don’t have to love all of it. But you do have to like some things. It can’t all be bad. And it doesn’t have to fall within the realm of “beautiful” aspects. I do not have long, slim legs – and that’s okay! As I said before, I really like my ankles – and that’s enough.
What is something you like about your body, simply because you like it?
If someone asked me that question point blanc, I don’t think I would have an answer. I really had to think about it, and explore my body to find out what I liked about it – unfortunately, what I didn’t like about it, I already knew.
But actually giving myself a real, hard look in the mirror – it made me appreciate my body more. I have a scar on my knee which is never going away, but it makes me smile every time I notice it because it has a hilarious story attached. My cleft thumb, my freckles, my bony wrists, my belly button wrinkle – those things are me, and they may not fall into the spectrum of “beautiful” body parts, but I like them anyway.
We are always asked for a reason when we like things. “Why do you like your bellybutton wrinkle?” Because I do. Why can’t we just like things because we like them?
It can be hard to practice self-love, which is fair enough! We don’t have to love every part of ourselves. But we can’t hate all of ourselves either. Something’s gotta give.