I Only Thought I Was Ugly Because I Was Ugly
Your eyes tell the truth even when the mind lies.
“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
This is what it's like to ruin a body I worked so hard for.
I used to stare in the mirror and pinch the places where I wished I could forbid fat to grow. I wanted to be so thin that a frozen palace could grow in the space between my heart and my collarbones. I'd be the kind of girl that only looked good in photographs. A cigarette and iced Americano kind of girl, with glitter tights and low blood pressure, a perpetual headache, dry spots underneath my eyes, red marks from my underwear that never seemed to go away. We had the technology to airbrush the bad skin away, and underneath neon lights I could become a kind of art object.
I never could quite get thin enough. Every time I looked in the mirror I was uglier. That wasn't a flaw, though, that was by design. I had built a body to torment myself. If I had white fur like a poodle I would've stained it yellow with my tears.
I only thought I looked ugly because I was ugly. I still can't stand to look at a lot of photographs of myself from several years ago. If you feel worthless it changes the way you hold the muscles in your face. Even when I recovered the weight I carried the sadness in my eyes and the tilt of my mouth.
I couldn't imagine getting pregnant. If a doctor offered to tie my tubes for free, I probably would've taken it. Photographs of babies disgusted me. They looked like little worms with trapped eyes, chubby cheeks and dumb faces.
But life itself disgusted me. I sneered at people with a healthy amount of body weight, who enjoyed smoothie bowls and nice restaurants without counting the calories, who went to escape rooms and on bike rides and didn't have boyfriends who cheated on them and got excited by simple and beautiful things.
Before I got pregnant I was the healthiest I'd ever been in my life. I'd been a normal weight for years but getting off birth control cleared my face up, seemed to bring beauty back to my face. I put on muscle mass and lost fat. I'd gotten extremely good at eating a healthy diet and was mostly down to one meal a day, but I didn't spiral if I ate a little extra.
More than that I felt excited for the future. It no longer felt like just another hole to collapse into.
People say that pregnancy ruins your body. Although that's obviously untrue for the majority, as most women bounce back, it's still a shock to see my own reflection with a 7 month old fetus inside of me. I've gained over forty pounds. I've got fat in places I never had it before. I have to wear Spanx or my thighs rub together and I get chafing. My feet have swelled so that most of my shoes don't fit me anymore. I've got stretch marks on my underbelly. My hips start to hurt if I stand or walk for any length of time. I've got a little melasma from the sun on my cheeks. I no longer recognize my chubby face or my huge breasts with dark and wide areolas.
My anorexic self would be horrified. If I'd gotten pregnant even 4 or 5 years ago I would've descended into an abyss of self loathing.
But now? Even with all these body changes, I don't feel ugly, even though objectively I recognize I'm not as beautiful as before. Maybe it's because I haven't "let myself go." I'm creating another human, and that requires you to take on a different shape.
And maybe it's because I don't desire to be a frozen palace anymore, cold and unchanging, like my body is its own private layer of hell.
The frozen palace isn't real. It's a mansion of stunted growth. It's illusion and deception. Starvation eats at your bones and it eats at your heart and it drives you into a psychosis that means as you stare up into the resplendent chandelier of your own self-annihilation you don't realize you're looking into the demonic mouth of entropy.
Your body is on a path toward change regardless of if you decide to have a baby or not. All good things must come to an end. The lines and the cracks will form.
Eternal beauty isn't a lie. But you don't get to have it without changing, adapting, allowing it to pour into the creation around you. There's no vampiric talisman to clutch. It has to seep into the universe or it'll be lost forever.
This doesn't feel like ruin. It feels like transformation. Nothing beautiful can be created without something being destroyed. Nothing worth having is earned without loss.
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