"I recently left my marriage of nine years. Going back to the first days I remember I was young and in love. I was a political activist, feminist, mountain climber, a tom-boy, an engineering student, and disgusted with the common romantic moves and sentiments."

I recently left my marriage of nine years. Going back to the first days I remember I was young and in love. I was a political activist, feminist, mountain climber, a tom-boy, an engineering student, and disgusted with the common romantic moves and sentiments. Not that I didn’t like the concept of love, quite the opposite, I was an avid reader of literature and thus passionate and full of fantasies of love scenarios. But I desired a mature and serious love and lust for each other; of the kind that manifests in the eyes of the lovers and not in roses and pink hearts, or in over-complementing each other or childish dependency.

So, I didn’t care that during the time we were dating the only comment from him about my appearance was: “Do you know your nose is crooked, and two of your teeth are shifting on top of each other?” Well, he was right, so my only thought was: poof, he saw it, he has an eye for details. I didn’t care that he was not expressing any love, assuming that he was as much in love as I was, but that he was only incapable of showing it. He was usually edgy and often angry at something but I believed it’s just that he has some anxiety issues and I should be with him in his struggles, I should hold him in my arms and calm him down. I thought he is just not emotionally expressive, and a tough-man type that would eventually be soft when soaked in my love.


But I did try to say that I was waiting. I would say: “Hay, can’t you also tell me you love me at least every ten times that I tell you?” And his response would be: “I won’t make this word an out-of-habit word; you should see it in me yourself”. That was convincing for me. Besides, the act of loving, the state of being someone’s shelter alone was so fulfilling that I didn’t care that I was not at the receiving end. I firmly believed someday he would also be free from all his tensions to be able to love me.


"Years passed and I tried to 'understand him' when he constantly was frustrated with my appearance and body."


Years passed and I tried to “understand him” when he constantly was frustrated with my appearance and body. I believed that after all he was right in all his complaints and agitations: he was right that I didn’t know how to neatly twist my scarf around my neck, or that I had baby hairs on my hairline that I couldn’t tame, he was right that my hips were too large, my waist too narrow, my shoulders too wide, and each disproportionate, he was right that I didn’t have a taste in clothing…

The day that I accidentally saw his text messages for a family friend of his, a girl our age, it was like discovering Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The tempered, cold and unmerciful person I was living with was a lovely butterfly, a soft spring cloud in his texts with her. His response: “This is my normal tone in conversation; you’re making a fuss about nothing”. I tried to understand; after all they had grown up together, and maybe I should try to make him as comfortable with me as he is with her.


That was the start of a seven year nightmare. Those years I only remember by time points that mark the incidents I saw his sexting with her; then with her sister; and then his other sensual and passionate “simple friendships”. In all, I wanted to prove that everything had a logical solution, so I tried to see my share in the situation: I was not womanly enough, I was not good at sex, I was not beautiful enough, I was not spending enough time on my appearance. I wanted to find my role in the scenario that explained his disgusted looks at me, oh, and how painfully burning that look was. His eyes would roll from my head down with such disgust that it was like an acid flowing down.


Maybe that’s how I gradually started hating myself and not him. I became and still am a person that hates me; so much so that I cannot look at myself and not be filled with disgust. I cannot hear my own voice, I hate all my gestures and body moves. I’m ashamed of myself. I should be considerate; people didn’t sign up to see my huge butt, or my small boobs or my disproportionate body. I should hide the disgusting parts of my body, obviously, with clothes, sheets and sheets of it, as large and loose as possible, to hide me in. Clothes are the cover that brings security and peace.


"It’s ridiculous to call everyone beautiful. In fact this by itself is emphasizing how much beauty is important. I am a lovely ugly girl that is entitled to enjoy my life and myself as much as everyone else in this planet."


Another part of me though, the strong rebellious girl that sometimes shows up, knows that all this is bullshit. I am not that awful, and even if I am, so what? Not everyone should be beautiful, symmetrical and perfect. Ugly people can also be loved. I don’t even desire to be beautiful! I don’t care if I am or not. It’s ridiculous to call everyone beautiful. In fact this by itself is emphasizing how much beauty is important. I am a lovely ugly girl that is entitled to enjoy my life and myself as much as everyone else in this planet.


Now, the nightmare has finished; I’ve put down the heavy burden that I was carrying all these years and I’m trying to collect all the shatters of me from the ground and build myself again, like riveted chinaware. I should try to look at myself with kindness, to see my whole body as me. Every part is me and I should cherish all, my hand is me, my legs, my feet … all of them make me, and there is no need to be ashamed of it. I should try to look at myself and not be filled with disgust.


"I wanted to take people witness. I am climbing a high mountain and I want to shout about my effort: witness my struggle and witness my triumph."


But, I couldn't do it alone; I couldn’t stand in front of mirror and look at myself. I couldn’t take unclothed photos of myself and put them in front of me to get used to how I look. So, this became my first motive to participate in this project. I needed to push myself into this discomfort zone in a way that there is no way back, no way to crawl back to my cave.

Second, I wanted to take people witness. I am climbing a high mountain and I want to shout about my effort: witness my struggle and witness my triumph. Doing this In front of eye witnesses is empowering. I’m proving that I don’t care how much disgusted people would be of me. This is my shout that this is me, with my whole body, unhidden, standing confident.


"I’m trying to dress less and not feel like an attention whore, trying to think if my skirt is above my knee I’m not showing my weakness or asking for people to look at me; that it is not a signal that I want sex."


But – yet another but – I couldn’t uncover myself fully. I did the shoot, but asked that my face be obscured; this time, out of fear of people. After all, clothes are the cover that brings security and peace. If there is such a picture of me in the public, whenever I achieve something, that photo would be shown side-by-side and the whole thing would be shadowed by jokes.

What if my supervisor sees this? My male friends, my extended family and coworkers, all the people who respect me. Would I lose their respect; would I be taken seriously? Again, I know I should fight all these insecurities, and I am trying: I’m trying to dress less and not feel like an attention whore, trying to think if my skirt is above my knee I’m not showing my weakness or asking for people to look at me; that it is not a signal that I want sex. But, I feel too fragile to take such a big step now.


It’s sad that I couldn’t make this a riot against unreasonable and suppressing social norms. It’s sad that I have this shattered sense of self to first put back together, that I first need to defy my own self-hatred. 


It's sad that my battle is, for now, to be entirely disclothed in front of just one person and to try not to curl into myself out of shame, to try looking at my photos and not be filled with hatred for the body I see. 

But I'm fighting. 



















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