Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Body Liberation"

(Jessica Ramaker Photography)

I came across two posts(#1 and #2) on Ander Wilson's Instagram account about Body Liberation and Postpartum Depression. I'm not postpartum but I do battle with depression and anxiety. Her words grabbed at me and I haven't been able to stop thinking about them.

Ander talks about a period of empowerment and "body liberation" that she experienced after she gave birth to her first child. Things like fussing about her clothes, makeup, and hair became less worthy of her energy and power as her focus shifted to being a mother. At the same time, she was also experiencing postpartum depression. As she was working through this, she started to become more aware of her body image again. This made her stop and wonder if this "wokeness" she had experienced was truly growth or a symptom of her postpartum depression. 

I think the distinguishing detail has to do with what she describes at the beginning of the second post, "What I do know is this: I had lost interest in things that I enjoyed, and instead of recognizing this as a symptom of depression, I interpreted it as being woke, as having "done the work" to the point where there was no work left to do."

The last two to three years I have experienced something similar to what Ander describes as "Body Liberation." I haven't been on any kind of fad diet in years. I track my food but I have no intentions of hitting macros, caloric intake, etc. I essentially do not limit any foods and eat whatever the f*ck I want. I go bare-faced every single day even with all the ridiculous acne and scarring that has surfaced in the last few years. I rarely put makeup on unless I want to for a special occasion. I wear that as a badge of honor, but should I? I don't fret over putting together outfits anymore. I've pared down my wardrobe to "boring" basics. I need function and comfort and anything beyond that is more effort than I care to put forth. I wash my hair twice a week and can't be bothered to put any time into styling it. A few (generous) pumps of Moroccan Oil and I'm out the door. No hot tools, no brushes, no extra product. I'm proud and unapologetic of my natural and sometimes wild, frizzy curls. I've often struggled and wondered if it truly is growth that I have experienced or if it is a manifestation of feeling insecure or bad about myself. 

Here's the thing...the icky, raw, vulnerable, embarrassing stuff that I don't want to write about but I'm going to because maybe you've been there too...Sometimes, I feel less than a woman because of this. Sometimes, when I go out with my friends, I feel like a schmuck. I want to make myself small and insignificant so that nobody will notice me and therefore cannot compare me to the people or person I am with. I project my insecurities onto my friends, too! I start assuming that they are judging me just like I assume everyone around us is. Or I think things like "She just invites me to tag along as wing-woman because she's prettier than me..." I project this bullshit onto my partner and it makes me not want to go to events with him because I'm afraid people will think that he's "dating down." I sometimes wonder if people who know me well "pity" me because they knew who I was before I was "this." But this isn't all the time. I have plenty of days where thoughts like this don't cross my mind at all.

There's part of me that is genuinely stoked that I don't have to spend time doing shit I don't want to do, like doing my hair! I spent five or six years of my life working in the beauty industry and I loved every single morning that I woke up early to spend an hour or two getting ready. I loved playing with products, playing with outfits, and playing with my hair. Nowadays, that's just not realistic. Getting dolled up is still fun for me but only in small doses. Other things have taken priority for me like sleep. I don't have the same amount of energy now that I did then either. I'm also not out in the dating scene and my partner prefers me fresh-faced and au natural - bless his heart. 

I go back and forth between, "This is a bunch of bullshit blah blah blah screw conforming to societal standards blah blah blah..." and "I hate feeling like the ugly duckling." 

I don't know if it comes from a place of "wokeness." 

I don't know if it comes from a place of insecurity.

Maybe it's both. 

I don't really know the answer to any of this or that an explanation is necessary but it's something I've been struggling with mentally and I felt inspired to put myself out there. 

The older I get, the more I realize I am not alone. My experiences are not that "unique" and I find comfort in connecting with content that makes me feel that way. I am so grateful to Ander for being willing to be vulnerable with her audience and share her thought process and experience with this. If you have experienced something like this or are trekking through it right now, please reach out and share it with me. I don't want to walk alone. 
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