This is probably the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever posted on the Internet. While I was planning it, such a strong part of me was thinking, ‘No god NO, please, please don’t do it! Everyone will know, and then you’ll be shamed and ridiculed and no one will ever want to look at you again!’ All irrational thoughts, but all so strong and spoken by voices so loud it’s almost hard to describe.
Ever since I was a very young child, 10 in fact, I’ve hated my arms with an intense passion. Not just that I’m unhappy with how they look, but to the extent that I think about my hatred for them on a daily basis and it makes me sick to my stomach when I remember what they look like. I wore a sweater over absolutely everything for the entirety of high school, even if it didn’t match, or if it was 90 degrees out. I avoid beaches and pools like the goddamn Bubonic plague.
But it goes deeper than that. I’ve been listening to this negative self talk for so many years, so constantly, that I’m not sure I can even see my arms objectively anymore. When I’m not wearing sleeves, I’m not even comfortable when I’m all alone in the house. I feel like people are watching me, seeing my arms and feeling disgusted at the sight of them. I become crippled with anxiety if I think about them too much. I want to crawl right out of my skin. It’s deeply ingrained in my entire being and it has got to stop.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve dealt with severe eating disorders for over 10 years of my life. Recovery is a slow process and I’ve made great headway, but there are some things like this hatred for my arms that are exhaustively hard to shake off. I find that the more I’m open about the most difficult things, the easier it is for me to accept and possibly let go of them.
So in this post, I’m including pictures of my bare arms. This happens millions of times per day on the Internet of course, but for me to do this is a real “fuck you” to body standards. I’m showing you the part of my body that I most despise, which has felt like a terrible secret for all these years. I feel as though the moment I say it out loud, something awful will happen.
Why do I hate them so much anyway? They’re just arms. They allow me to do so many amazing things, like play with my dog, do yoga, hug the people I love, write, drive, cook, play music. When I look at these pictures, I see a really big person. I know objectively I’m not – I’m just a normal sized human being, trying really hard to understand that that’s okay. Sometimes practicing what you preach (in this case, body positivity) is not an all-at-once kind of experience. The more I preach it, the more I begin to believe it myself. Little by little.
I am truly terrified to put these pictures out there, but what’s the worst that could happen? I want to prove to myself that the world won’t implode if someone sees my arms. I want to appreciate them for how amazing they are, and for how lucky I am to still have both of them (and legs, too!) I want to wear whatever I want and not feel as though a million eyes are scrutinizing my every bit of showing skin. I want to love my arms with all that I am in return for all of the joys they bring into my life on a minute-to-minute basis.
But, as with every journey, one step at a time.