One of the most important lessons I’ll ever teach my kids is that their bodies are something they should be proud of and that they don’t need anybody’s approval but their own to be happy and comfortable in their skin.
This is a lesson I struggled to learn, and some days…I feel like I need to learn it all over again. In my almost 27 years of life, I’ve learned the cold hard truth that people are extremely judgmental and opinionated, and they won’t hesitate to point out flaws or tell you when they think something is “off” about you, your appearance, or how you choose to live your life.
It’s taken me a lot of work to become as comfortable with my body as I am. I went from hiding behind multiple layers, never showing off my surgical scars or bone growths, to wearing dresses and shorts and t-shirts with minimal anxiety. I say “minimal” because I still experience anxiety over it; my palms still drip with sweat and my hands shake when I feel like people are staring at me, but I force my chin up and fake it until I make it. I do it anyway, because I don’t want my boys to catch on about my insecurities. I don’t want them to develop their own because of me.
I choose to decorate my body with pretty tattoos and piercings because I find that form of expression beautiful. I hated my skin growing up, I hated the raised, angry red and purple scars. I hated the bone growths that protruded from my skin, and I hated the fact that I was different. Tattoos and piercings make me love my body a little more, because they are choices that I got to make about it. I didn’t get a choice on having MHE, or needing surgeries, but I get to choose on what beautiful design I get inked across my skin.
I have faced a lot of adversity about my body. I’ve been told that I should “stop marking it up” with piercings and tattoos. That comment always makes me chuckle…stop marking it up? Because it was free from marks before?
Not that it’s anyone’s business, of course. My body is my body, and strangers or other people don’t have the right to scold me — a grown woman — on how I choose to express myself, and this is how I choose to express myself.
It’s liberating. It’s helped me see my body in a different light. I no longer think of it as broken; I think of it as resilient. My body has endured so much — surgeries upon surgeries, chronic pain, and the growing and birthing of two beautiful children — and yet, it still works. It’s still mine. It’s imperfect, it’s flawed, and it’s mine.
Even still, my goal is to live life the way I want to live, to express myself the way I want to express myself, to celebrate my body the way I want to celebrate it. I hope that by doing this, my boys will grow up the same way, that they will celebrate their bodies and be comfortable and happy in their beautiful skin.