body conscious

For me it was all about my eyes. I love my dark brown eyes with their very tiny and subtle navy blue ring. It started when a makeup artist said something about brown eyes. “You’re so lucky you have brown eyes” She said. “Brown eyes with dark skin tone, you can wear any color on your eyes and it’ll look amazing.”

That was it. That was all I needed to hear. I started playing around with different colours. She was wrong, I don’t like “all” colors on my skin. Like red for instance – it isn’t my favorite but it made a nice change one night during a party. I love blues and golds, bronzes, silvers however are not one I’d be willing to try ever again. From my eyes I moved to my lips. People used to tell me that they didn’t like my “Big Black lips.” My ex-boyfriend used to put “too” much emphasis on my lips – which made me incredibly body conscious.

After he left however I suddenly started taking a serious look at my face. My beautiful big cheek bones, my “fat” Jamaican nose, my “big black lips” and my beautiful brown eyes. I started to think about all the women who parts of this face before me. My mother and grand-mothers. One day I stripped down naked and started looking at my entire body. The tiny dot of a scar from the knife to my neck. The stretch marks from my un-birthed pregnancy.

The scar on my knee from when I was ten. Rollerblading with the cutest boy in the neighbourhood, Benny. I slipped and fell on a pile of broken glass. Benny was -the- cutest boy I’d ever met. At thirteen he looked like a carbon copy of Devon Sawa. Benny carried me two blocks home and told me I was a geek. I didn’t care that he’d insulted me while blood was dripping all over the shirt he’d tied around my knee. All I cared about was the fact that the cutest boy in our entire complex had carried me home. Benny never made fun of my looks or told me I was ugly or fat. He made fun of the fact that I behaved like a fool to get his attention.

The more I looked at my body the more I remembered that the men who made fun of my body, who made me feel less then I am and body conscious, were far outnumbered by the number of people who complimented me and told me how beautiful I am. I started wondering when “I” stopped thinking I was beautiful. When did I allow people to tell me that I wasn’t worth loving, or appreciating. When did I stop appreciating all of the women who came before me, who’s blood ran through my veins?

I am one person out of 7 billion. There is no one else in the world that looks like me that has my DNA or my genealogy. I am a mix of Scottish, Irish, Jamaican, Gypsy. It’s not a rare mix but it’s mine. I am proud of the woman I am, I am proud of who I became because I took the time to really look at myself and discover what I’m worth.

As I write this I am watching a movie about a man who scared a woman so badly she ran in front of a car to escape his abuse. He tells her she’ll never make it without him. No one will love her, no one will want to be around her. No one will care for her, she’ll die without him. Ten years ago I would have shivered, shaken and shuddered in fear at hearing those words. Hell, even a year ago those words would have triggered me. Today they make me angry.

I know that I, as a woman, as a human being deserve love. I deserve to be treated at the very least, like an equal. For me it’s the eyes, those soulful brown eyes with the super tiny navy blue ring around the iris that comes from a line of Scottish English Irish Jamaican Gypsies. I want you to try something, get up, away from your screen go to your largest mirror and strip down. Appreciate your body. Touch it. Let every mark, every scar bring back a memory, good or bad.

Look into those eyes you see in the mirror. Stare a them hard and start talking to your self. Out loud.

Say all the things that you wish someone would say to you:

“You are beautiful”
“You are so strong, I admire your strength, look at all you have been through, and you’re still here.”
“My God, look at your lips, your eyes, your nose….your breasts. Check out that ass. No one in the world has that ass.”
“You are fucking amazing, You deserve love. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to take pride in all you have accomplished.
“You deserve to make your dreams come true.”

Say these things to yourself every morning for a week. Just try it for one week, and if after one week it hasn’t become a routine say it every day until it does. We live in a world that is constantly telling us we need to seek approval from others, but what about yourself? Are you living your best life? Now it’s your turn.

Tell us what you love about your body in the comments below!

Devon is a survivor of abuse. She's one of the founders of The Literary Sisterhood and she believes that magic is possible. She also believes in fairies, gnomes, and spends far too many hours talking to the voices in her head while writing her debut novel.

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