We’re all born perfect, the greatest tragedy in convincing ourselves otherwise.
Perfection, not a single defect. Inches and inches of luminous caramel-colored skin, freckles I know by heart, the same ones that remind me of individuality and its own miracle. Eyelashes that seem to caress me with every breath frame a pair of black eyes that carry me to a better place. The smell of new, of all possibilities, the smell of dream. Hands, feet, and an infinite navel that I admire nightly to find myself ––face to face–– with existence and all its answers. That is how I look at my son, and I’m sure that’s how my mother looked at me.
Text by Kira Álvarez
Photography by Rodrigo Palma
I wonder what would happen if we saw ourselves under that unconditional love light all of our lives, the same one with the power to certify that the person between our arms is the most extraordinary person in this, and in any other universe. When did we stop seeing ourselves as our mothers did and began doubting our grandiosity? When did we stop feeling like princesses and started sucking in our stomachs, censoring our crooked smiles, or covering our freckles that we used to think were star kisses? What we used to celebrate that made us unique now torments us, it haunts us, it makes us scream, it puts us through needles, it makes us vomit, it immobilizes us at the operating room, it tortures us, it kills us. When did we allow the voice of the media to resonate louder than that that howled to bring us into this world?
Retouched photos that lie, social media that distorts reality with filters, films we see in which we can never find ourselves, products that sell us false hope in tiny crystal bottles. We live in a society with which we’ve agreed not to be seen. We don’t want our cellulite to be seen, our skin folds, our stretch marks, our wrinkles, our fat, our slimness, our menstruation, our body hair, our hormones, our age, our flaccidity, our tiredness, our insecurities, our body… and, if possible, don’t let our desires and unconformities be seen either. Do we really want that? Not to be seen and driven into invisibility? In exchange for fitting in with stereotypes that were endorsed by the patriarchy. The one where we can be sexy, but not too sexy, that’s being ‘provocative’. The same one where the pregnant womb is praised, but then, be careful if everything doesn’t go back into place. Gray hair is meant for grandmothers, you’ll be called raggedy if you dare to let them grow. You should exercise, but never too much, being masculine and muscular is intimidating. Want to wear makeup? Sure, but keep it simple and natural.
There is, undoubtedly, a great responsibility behind mainstream media in terms of representation, inclusion, and diversity; however, thanks to social media we’ve all become content creators and consumers. The obligation to switch up aesthetic patterns, to a lesser or greater extent, is up to us all. Likewise, the benefit will fall into the perception we have of self-love and how we liberate ––once and for all–– our physique from what “it’s supposed to look like”. Because, day in and day out, we insist on declaring war on our own bodies, on comparing it to others, on devaluating it by saying it’s not firm enough, slim, smooth, or young enough. It listens to you and yet remains stoic; it still carries you to wherever you steer it, it continues to be a creator of life, producing milk, orgasms, and laughter. Without giving in to your criticisms, it turns into an artifact of the perfect mechanism that interacts with the exterior and with the beings that roam around it. Your rounded hips bear your femininity, the legs you so detest have danced nights away, the arms you call soft have been home and comfort, your folds are the lines of the poem that tell your story, your fallen breasts are a testament to your divine fertility, and the creases on your face bellow: “thank you, life, for passing by”.
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Accept your body
We must understand that deconstruction is a process that takes time, just as it took us years to think we weren’t enough, doubting ourselves was a lengthy task that claimed victory on the many aforementioned fronts. Unlearning takes patience, information, and tools. A good exercise is to consciously observe everything that has influenced the perception that you have over your body during a full day. What you see, feel and think. How do you behave towards your body as a result of those three answers? Another foolproof tool is understanding that the only detox you need is cleansing the contents you consume and that don’t nourish you. Stop following the accounts that don’t line up with your restored beliefs, question things you see on your screen, turn the page when you don’t see yourself in it, abandon the shopping cart if the products in it make you feel guilty about how you look; if you feel like it doesn’t represent you then that’s not the way. Every path is different, use self-care as an ally, it can manifest itself in many ways: intuitive nutrition, meditation, exercising not because you have to but because you want to, reading a book, taking a bath, taking walks, getting massages, loving your body or as simple as scheduling an hour with yourself.
Like in any real emotional relationship, self-love isn’t at first sight, rather it’s continuously built. You fall in love with the actions towards you, all the little things, the respect and love with which they talk to you, it’s earned with every “I like you”, with a good-night text, with the flowers they give for no reason. We dedicate efforts in creating loving, healthy, and honest bonds with other people, but not with ourselves. It’s obvious for a relationship to erode if we’re always talking down on them, if we only highlight their defects, if criticism is so constant that it overshadows everything that initially captivated us. If instead of hurling hurtful comments to ourselves every day we began flattering different parts of us, I assure you there will come a time when you declare love to yourself. Say something nice to yourself when you wake up, remember what you liked about yourself when you were a kid, think about what makes you so special, highlight that feature of yourself that you like so much, remember that clothes are supposed to fit us and not the other way around, we’re not a size, a number on the scale, we’re not a “before” photo so let’s not try to be an “after” shot.
I acknowledge that nowadays there’s a certain pressure to get on the “self-love” bandwagon, and that this is a foreign reality to many, and it’s also not humanly natural to love ourselves 24/7. No one can love all the time, every day. The practice of self-love isn’t linear or ascendant, but rather a graph with ups and downs. It’s not failing yourself if one day you’re not feeling attractive or if you wonder how you’d look with a few inches of waist less. Dissatisfaction and judgement are precisely what we want to avoid. If trending movements such as body positivity or body neutrality resonate with you, adopt them and take whatever works for you to feel better about yourself. Don’t obsess on forcing yourself to look a certain way but also don’t feel socially obligated to love yourself. Let self-love feel free, let it be permissive towards our vulnerability, see it as an encouragement to change the collective narrative as well as your own, may exposing our individual beauty be prideful; may it help us return to our mothers’ gaze upon us and to the innocent years when our only goal was to be happy.
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