A blog of endless curiosity
A while ago now, last holidays actually, a friend of mine (DS) introduced me to this really great novel by the Canadian author Sheila Heti called How Should a Person Be? It was a really great novel that looked at topics such as female friendship and female sexuality but the thing that really sucked me in was the profoundly philosophical questions she asked throughout the story, questions such as the one suggested by the title.
I read the novel what feels like quite a while ago now, but lately I’ve been thinking about similar questions. The questions that have been rumbling and fumbling and tumbling around in my mind attic (as Sherlock Holmes would say) are: How does one become comfortable in one’s own body/skin? And, How does one learn to accept themselves the way they are? Lately I have felt like a bit of a detective relentlessly pursuing answers to these questions. I might not have the best powers of deduction but I am mighty curious!
As I sit outside in my backyard contemplating this, with leaves falling on my head and insects flying into me I realise that in the grand scheme of things I am quite insignificant and small. In funny sort of way that is a comforting feeling because it allows me not to get bogged down in feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, or feeling awkward and ashamed about my body. However that is a feeling I am all to familiar with; feeling awkward, ashamed, insecure, crazy in the head, and in some way inadequate, but most of all like my body is in some way not my own – not for me to take pleasure in and enjoy, or experience. I’m not sure when or where this feeling stared but its though I’ve been living with this feeling like its a ghost friend that is actually no real friend at all. It is haunting and disturbing me. I don’t know, but I wonder if this feeling is one others may feel too? If so it seems as though it goes unmentioned or that it silently exists among women like a ghost lingering unnoticed and haunting many. If this is the case, this disturbs me far more than the feeling itself!
Why is it that so many women feel too fat, too skinny, unpretty, unsexy, like their boobs are too big or too small, they have childbearing hip or they don’t, their legs aren’t long enough, their too short, gross, disgusting, bloaty, in short – not good enough. Not good enough for who dammit?!?! Everybody should at least feel good enough for themselves! If we can’t even love ourselves, how the fuck are we meant to love each other? By each other I mean other women, but also how are we meant have truly meaningful loving friendships with men as well.
This past semester I was introduced to this French feminist philosopher, Helene Cixous. In her essay ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ she calls for women to write their bodies and their experiences in order to bring them back to themselves. A kind of re-embodiment. While I do have some problems with some of the points she makes in her essay, for me, this point was so profoundly powerful and moving. She recounts her own feelings of shame and fear and says that these are the reasons she didn’t write till the age of twenty-seven, because she swallowed her fear and stayed in the dark. “And why don’t you write? Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it.” She says this with such simplicity, like of course, finally the answer to everything I’ve ever felt but not even acknowledged that I’ve felt! Its as though she is giving the reader permission to accept, enjoy, and take pleasure in themselves and their bodies. Not that permission is hers to give or whatever but still it is just so fucking nice to hear/read! It feels like relief, like being on the nudie beach, like finally I don’t even need to be accepted I can just be!
I always thought that if I accepted myself the way I am then I would be blind to my bad qualities and would not realise if I was treating others horribly. I’ve never really been ok with accepting the status quo because there are always things wrong even if we miss them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. And these are always the most dangerous because they exist unseen and silent. But somewhere this became not accepting myself or who I am. The tight little package of me! Is there a way you don’t have to accept the status quo while accepting who you are as a person?
Maybe theses questions are the kinds of questions that never definitely get answered but are more processes and you only get the answers to them once you have lived a super long time, who knows? But for now my search continues!