Over two years ago I posted a naked picture of myself on the internet. With no guise of a mask or a fake name or a blurry filter, it was just me, naked, with my name quite clearly attached to it. And then I shared that picture with Facebook, who in turn shared it with their Facebooks and Tumblrs – and my naked body was being seen by thousands of people over the course of an hour.
Hitting that ‘post’ button was a catalyst to becoming the person I always wanted to become but never seemed to be able to turn into; I wanted to stop caring about what people would think in dressing rooms, or lying naked in bed together; I wanted to wear what I felt comfortable in and ‘poo poo’ at anyone who made me feel lesser for doing anything that made me feel fuzzy and warm and happy.
A brief history: I quickly became a vegetarian at the ripe age of twelve, right smack dab in the middle of whatever growth spurt I could have had, once I realized that those adorable little ‘animules’ that made me so giddy with love were the same hunks of meat that ended up on my plate. As most parents would assume when their kid makes a huge life decision at twelve, it was treated as a phase. It resulted in a fight for survival off of side dishes of rice and potatoes and every now and then, spaghetti. Carbs were my worst best friend, and my adolescent ‘growth spurt,’ in tangent with an array of hormones, made my bod spring outwards instead of upwards. I gained a whole bunch of weight – the start of a vehement hatred of my body. It was me against my body– like we were two very different entities fighting against each other for the same country. Every time I felt fat or greasy or when my pants felt too tight or my boobs fell out of my bra, I would curse at my flesh like it had its own agenda for ruining my life.
There was no understanding of how what I was putting into my mouth had a direct effect on my body. It just didn’t make any sense, but I was never a very scientific person to begin with. Even at the time of my naked internet indiscretion I still had no solid idea that input equals output, apart from a vague vegetarian standpoint of vegetables being good for me. The unfortunate reality is that posting your naked picture to the internet doesn’t give you an immediate understanding of how nutrition works… It did, however, aid me in becoming OK with my bod, regardless of what state I was in. It began to connect me to this evil flesh-machine that I thought was working against me all this time (except during orgasms, obvi). That this ol’ pile of bones and fatty tissue wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it would, quite literally, be with me my whole life… So I may as well just get along with it.
I’m the last person who’s going to stand up in a crowd of people and tell everyone how great my body is and how in love with it I am. Aesthetically speaking, I don’t believe there’s a ‘great body.’ I’ve seen SO many naked bodies and all of them are so different and each comes with its own set of defining characteristics. How could we even begin to set values to portions of our flesh machines? I love my body for its functioning abilities and the fact that it means that I am a person who is alive… And being alive is pretty sweet.
Once the flip switched to comical camaraderie instead of a battle to the death, the more attention I paid to my body and the relationship we had. And the more attention I paid to it, the more alive I began to feel.
Very slowly, I began to pick up on the cues: If I ate a pint of ice cream, I had uncontrollable stench-gas for the rest of the day (this went well on dates). If I ate three meals in a row consisting purely of pasta, potatoes and bread, there would be a very likely chance I would be constipated the next day. If I had a bag of chips for breakfast, I would indeed feel exhausted until I ate something more sufficient. Dehydration sucks, too many candies will give you a tummy ache and if you drink too much pickle juice, you will barf.
My relationship with food is enjoyable – I eat it and I enjoy it, pretty much 100% of the time. I’ve also been very lucky to have the time and resources to discover what dietary restrictions I needed to give myself in order to get away with this enjoyment (I’m now a vegan who occasionally eats goats/sheep’s cheese).
This is as diety as I believe I will ever get: To just put into my body whatever I know I will enjoy and won’t make me feel awful.
I am a relatively small person. At the time of the buff blog bonanza, which was when I released my nude photo online, I had long blonde hair and my boobs looked pretty boobtastic. Unfortunately, I was hit in the gut numerous times with responses such as “well if I looked like her I would post naked pictures of myself on the internet, too.” These comments work to completely diminish my own personal body battle. Because in the end, it really doesn’t matter what shape or size your body is, the mental capacity of growing up in a society that praises disconnection to yourself is quantifiably the same for everyone. You can never tell a young person that because they are taller or skinnier that there struggle is less important than somebody else’s.
Find Caitlin on tobeaslut.com