I was seven when I first started to hate my body. Seven years old and hating my body because others taught me how to hate it first.
I grew up. I kept hating. I let it wrap around me like a toxic cloud of something; like my own super-villain.
Except that I was never quite the hero.
Deflection was my best friend; my super-spy gadget that directed attention away from me. I used humor to deflect – self-deprecation that was more like verbally abusing myself. If I could make fun of myself first, it didn’t matter if everyone laughed. I took control.
I took control but I lost something along the way.
I spent sixteen years hating my body and myself. More importantly, I’ve spent the last five relearning what it means to love myself.
What it means to heal myself.
I got into comics not long ago – maybe four years ago. And with comics came a whole host of issues – but it brought me to amazing people. People who told standards to fuck off and taught me how to reinvent my own standards. People who showed me what it meant to love myself.
I read comics like Captain Marvel and Hawkeye and relearned what it meant to be my own hero. I learned that you can be a giant fuck-up like Clint Barton but you can still do good in the world. You make people and lives and <i>yourself</i> better. I learned that life is going to knock you on your ass and Carol Danvers would be right there to pull you back to your feet and tell you to punch a dinosaur in the face like the hero you are.
I got into cosplay and traditionally feminine things. I cosplayed at HeroesCon last year – my very first cosplay – and it was, hands down, one of the best experiences of my life. It redefined what I could do for myself. It redefined me, in a lot of ways. It showed me a whole new world of what I could be and what I could define myself as. It gave me freedom.
I had gone from having a super-villain on my shoulder to being the hero of my own story.
And I keep redefining myself. I began to find myself gravitating to make-up after many years rejecting anything feminine. I slowly started experimenting and I found out a few things. I found out that make-up is fun and it makes me feel like I am readying myself for battle. It makes me feel like a super-hero putting their mask on. Once I started having fun – experimenting and learning and enjoying the experience – I found that a portal had opened and it lead me to a whole new world. Make-up is becoming fun for me because I have redefined my views. Most importantly, I am always redefining myself.
But I still have bad days. I still have days were my super-villain has some new tricks; some new formula that brings me down. The point isn’t that I still have this super-villain riding shotgun.
The point is that I’m now the hero and saving myself is kind of what I do these days.
I met Christina at HeroesCon through my girlfriend a couple years back, where she got me to draw her a pirate lady surrounded by monsters. Since then, she’s gotten me into a sweet aquarium for free and talked me into watching every Fast and Furious movie last month. She’s great. Go follow her Tumblr!