I should preface that I oftentimes do not feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t feel comfortable in my own head. That’s a whole issue all on its own matter.
I should also state that this isn’t a how-to. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m constantly finding myself having to reassure myself over and over again.
This article is more of a reflection on how we as women, are taught at a young age to feel uncomfortable in our skin by the world and by society. We’re taught to cover up, that our shoulders and bra straps are distracting. That we as women, are distracting in a classroom or in a work space. I always found myself raising my hand when the teacher asked if she could have some students carry chairs into a classroom. I raised it high. I got told that she wasn’t looking for strong girls, but strong boys. But she had said the word, students.
I don’t know if that was the first time that something like that happened to me, but it’s one of the first that I remember. I think this is a universal situation as seen by the memes floating around the internet. I think looking back, there were little moments in me that determined the feeling of not being comfortable in my own skin.
One time, I was a flier for my cheer team, and one of the girls holding me told me that my hairy legs were disgusting. She also told me that if I didn’t shave them, she’d drop me on my ass. Or the time that I didn’t zip up my skirt in school, and people laughed at me when my underwear was on display by a group of classmates. Elementary school and middle school made me feel small. Smaller than I actually am. (If you know me in real life, you know that I’m already small.) I thought to myself that as an adult, I won’t feel these feelings anymore. That I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in my own skin.
Well, twelve-year-old me was a dreamer. I’ll give her that. Little Rina had big dreams, and well… they sure were dreams.
I do still feel uncomfortable in my skin. I don’t know if the feeling of looking at my face and not liking one thing about it will pass. When pinching the skin of my stomach between my fingers will stop. When I try to pluck every hair from my face will fade. When I don’t pick at the skin surrounding my fingernails will leave me. I kind of wish I could talk to my younger self.
She didn’t worry about issues like these. She wasn’t concerned with body hair, chubby tummies, or skin that felt too tight around her fingers. She liked to dance and sing. She was the person who the first one to say hi to the new kids in school. She was extroverted, she was smiley, and she wasn’t worried about her body. She could eat a whole pizza and that was an accomplishment in her mind. It’s still an accomplishment in my mind, but that’s because I can’t get through three slices, let alone eight. So maybe that’s just me.
What I’ve learned about feeling uncomfty in my body, is that I’m not the only one. There’s a scene in Mean Girls where Regina, Karen, and Gretchen all stand in front of a mirror. They start listing the things they dislike about their appearance. Cady states that she has bad breath in the morning because she doesn’t have anything else to compare with them. The dialogue and that particular line made thirteen-year-old Rina laugh, but twenty-two-year-old Rina sees the line from a different point of view.
She didn’t have anything to compare all their self-nit-picking with because she had never once felt uncomfortable in her skin or been told something against her appearance. She came up with a bullshit excuse to fit in. Honestly, I was Cady when I was younger, and I assume (though you know the saying within the word assume) that most little girls before the age of like nine or ten would be in Cady’s shoes. But, nowadays. I’m Regina, Karen, and Gretchen. Nothing about my appearance is enough to persuade me that it’s all okay.
Of course, I have those days where the outfit works, the sun is glowing extra bright, and my smile just hits right that day. Nobody, and I mean, nobody, can tell me anything those days. You don’t like my outfit? That’s a you problem. You don’t like the sound of my voice? Get your ears checked. I mean on those days, everything works and makes sense. It’s like when your undies and bra match and the skies open and cherubs sing tunes from the heavens. Everything is good about those days.
What I’m trying to say is that we all feel like that at some point in our lives. We weren’t comfortable in our bodies. We as women, cis, trans, and nonbinary folk, we’ve all been there. The good news is that we’re not alone on the negative side. We’re also not alone on the positive side. There’s always going to be someone who sees you not just on your good days, but also on your bad days. They’re the ones who will be your cheerleader, your trusted person. So if you need someone, I’ll be that someone.
I want to end this with the fact that all bodies are valid and beautiful. That everyone no matter what is important and deserves unconditional love. We’re all just people trying to do the best that we can do. Sure, sometimes the mirror and our minds trick us. But the best thing about those mirrors is that you can throw them away (ignoring the superstition attached to mirrors). Your mind will always try to play tricks on you, I recommend the always faithful, telling it to screw off.
In a world of Reginas, Karens, and Gretchens, I hope to one day be a Cady.