It's been awhile since I last wrote to you, my dearest readers. I am sorry. I know that whole one week and three days you were sitting on the edge of your seats, just dying to know when I would post again, when you could once more feel warm and fuzzy inside, filled with the joy of laughter that I like to think that I give you. I got a little blind-sided by midterms. Being the genius that I am, I failed to realize that they were a whole week earlier than I thought and it caused me to go in to such a state of anxiety that I finally contracted the cold that I had been so close to almost-not-but-almost getting for the past month. Sucks.
Ok, but we are back now and I want to talk to you all about having confidence in your body, which I know I have talked about quite a bit as of late. Yes, I have boasted about how I have an awesome lumpy butt made of all-natural organic materials (it is so eco-friendly!) and that my pear shaped body is just about the best thing ever because it is the most fun to draw. Just look at Chris Sanders' designs. He obviously gets it.* Am I vain and narcissistic? Perhaps. But I think I prefer this to the alternative, which is to hate your body for everything that it is and want to cry every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in jeans, which is basically every day.
Let me tell you a little story, that I am sure-- at least if you are a female (sorry men, you can just sit this one out and watch I guess)-- you can relate to in some way or another. There once was a girl. This girl hit puberty at the ripe of age of 14. But unlike all of the other girls who had two little lumps slowly growing out of her chest in the normal forward direction, over night one day she expanded outward on her right and left and suddenly none of the pants from Limited Too that she had come to know and love would ever fit her again. And all of the other girls were still running around like little popsicle sticks, except now they had boobs too. F**king great. And so she spent the next 4 years of her life confused as to why she couldn't dress in the same clothes she had worn for 14 years and what the hell does the term "cellulite" mean anyways? Oh yea, and she thought she was fat. Because someone asshole dick-wad who thought The Beastie Boys were the epitome of good music in science class told her so. Then one day she looked around and suddenly everyone else had hips and love handles too and she discovered what leggings were and everything was ok again. The end.
...Ok, so it was a teensy bit more complicated than that, but that is basically the cliff notes version of growing up for me. At least in body-image terms. The overall idea is that yes, I used to think I was fat, but no longer! I've never actually technically been "overweight," on the BMI scale (besides a very brief period after Canada, where I gained my harrowing addiction to Kraft Dinner... I've been clean for 1 month now. Please, hold your applause), but I have always been at the upper end of the "normal weight" range. By upper end, I mean usually .1 away from the "at risk" category. Combine this with growing up in what is one of the healthiest and most athletic cities on probably the entire planet, and it can get pretty easy to feel uncomfortable about your body.
So what is my secret to feeling good about myself and how I look? There are 3 different tools I have put to great use at various times that have always improved my body image:
1. A boyfriend.
I have the firm belief that we women should never, ever fall back on this. While having someone be attracted to you is a pretty good affirmation you have at least something working for you, it should by no means be how you base your entire self-image. Guys can be insincere because they are assholes, or because they are horny, or most of all because they are horny assholes. And some guys just like vaginas, no matter what is attached to them. Also, if you are like me, you don't actually have a boyfriend almost 99% of the time, so yea, not a very reliable source of feeling-goodness. Use this method as a cherry on top of your ice cream, but not as the ice cream itself, so to speak. (Besides, maraschino cherries are kind of gross anyways. Am I right or am I right?)
2. Diet and exercise
This is the one that most people will tell you leads to a good body-image. I don't know if I have ever felt like diet and exercise has VASTLY improved how I look, because let's be honest, I still wear the same clothes from when I was 14 on a regular basis. My size has gone through almost no variation in the past 6 years. But it does, at the very least, make me feel like I am not contributing towards the problem. And plus, when I go run 3 miles I feel almost no guilt for eating half a pint of ice cream later that evening and trying to look innocent about it as I throw the carton away. Hmm...I wonder if this is why diet and exercise aren't working so well for me?
...Nah. That is preposterous.
3. Mirror pep talks
This my friends, is my big secret that I have chosen to divulge to you today. Also known as being totally vain and narcissistic, mirror pep talks are by far the best way to make you feel good about the way you look.
What exactly is a mirror pep talk?
It is when you take a few minutes in your room or bathroom and you just stare at yourself in the mirror, making sure of course that your roommate or anyone else won't be walking in any time soon to seeing you flail about in front of a mirror in an undoubtedly embarrassing manner. Because it doesn't matter where or when or what you are wearing or what you do. It is just about examining yourself to the fullest extent. The point is to be able to see yourself at any moment and still be able to perceive yourself as attractive. And if you don't look attractive, well then you can goddamn fix yourself until you do.
I often steal a few minutes on my way in and out of the bathroom to take a nice, good look at myself. I could be all glamourous and ready to head off to my fabulous art school life, or I could have just woken up, haven't showered in over a day, and smell rancid. Sometimes, these might be the same thing. I could have just finished up my workout--in fact this is one of my favorite time to have mirror pep talks, as it is the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. If I can make myself look good at my worst, then I should be able to look superb at any other time.
I know this sounds a little crazy. Because if you already hate how you look, the last thing you probably want to do is look at yourself. But I kid you not, it works. It just takes practice. Find the best angles. Pretend to have conversations with people to see how your face changes when you talk. It's all preparation for the real thing, so you can avoid giving yourself a double chin or slouching too much when you are actually around other people, if you are attentive enough to remember that kind of crap anyway. The most important thing when doing a mirror pep talk is to have an optimistic attitude about it. Those wrinkles around your completely make-up free eyes when you smile? They look like the wings a majestic pegasus about to take flight. Your hair is going in 500 directions? Shake it out a bit and you look like you belong on a magazine cover or maybe a super sexy vampire...those are still in, right? That really awful moment where you stand at a certain angle and look your absolute widest? Turn your hips a bit and suddenly you've got a vintage model vibe going for you, because I am sure every guy would agree that old stuff is sexy too. I have managed to find myself looking good even in the worst of moments. Just the other night I was curled up in a blanket on the couch feeling sick as a dog, but I turned photo booth on my computer and bam! Fashion model portraits pooped out all over my screen like I was modeling for the cover of Vogue...if models on the cover of Vogue wore cotton tank tops and iPod earbuds under a comforter from Target. Nevertheless, even though I couldn't breath through my nose, I'd never been sexier.
Yes, you can even take photos of yourself if you are so inclined. They can serve as a friendly reminder to yourself in those moments where you just can't find your hotness that yes, at some point you looked awesome. And you will again. Just not right now. But that's ok, we all have unglamorous moments, and that is acceptable. But for the love of cheese balls, DO NOT post your photos to Facebook. The only thing that keeps me from appearing to be totally and completely vain is that I just talk about it, and then draw derpy and unflattering pictures of myself to be ironic. I don't go shoving my narcissism in people's faces. No one appreciates that. If they do, they are horny men who are too lazy to go look for porn, so instead they turn to your lame pictures in the Facebook album you have titled "me!" Do you really want your self-confidence photos to be put to that use? If you do, you are doing this wrong.
Just have fun with it. Turn on music while everyone is out. Try on different clothes to see how you look in them. Do it naked even! I think that is the most important, because that is how you come to be truly comfortable with everything about yourself. Even that weird hairy birthmark/mole combination no one knows about. Love the weird hairy birthmark-mole. If you can't find the beauty in the weird hairy birthmark-mole, no one else will either.
The more you look at it, the more love comes out of it, huh?
And that's it, folks. That is how I have come to love how I look, even in the absence of a man physically present in my life.** Hell, this is better than that. It's a process, and you have to keep it up, but it is worth it. Just be warned though, if you want to keep up the good feelings afterwards, don't go out to one of the most popular shopping malls in Orange County or watch any of Jenna Marbles' videos of youtube. Because then you will end up curled up in the your bed and crying into your pillow about how you will never be hot or funny enough to afford nice things. Actually, just don't go on the internet or out in public at all, ok? Just keep staring at yourself in the mirror, day in and day out, until your eye sockets burn away and your bones crumble into dust. It's fool proof.
*As his women who have boobs that exist outside of all gravitational fields and have nipples so large they actually look like secondary boobs imply. If you don't know what I am talking about, 1.) You are not an animation nerd, and thats ok, it probably means you have a healthy and active sex life, so good for you, and 2.) Go look his drawings up, because some of the women's proportions are pretty ridiculous. But at least they have thigh meat, hubba hubba! I'll even help you get started
** I appreciate the creepers I have friendly chats with on Facebook, but let's be honest, most of them haven't actually seen me in several years, so their flattery doesn't really count in my book.
Also, I updated my art blog recently. Have you taken a look?