I positioned my phone at the perfect angle to capture both my belly rolls and my smile. Image: Sarah Hosseini.
The experience of exposing oneself feels transformative and powerful. Posting this picture was my poetry.
Content notice: internalized fatphobia.
A surge of adrenaline hit me. I wanted to snap a selfie. A semi-nude selfie.
I was hot and bloated. Thank you, summer and PMS. This was probably the LEAST aesthetically pleasing time to post a nude-ish selfie on my Facebook page. Hardly attractive.
Yet, the urge to not give a f*ck and rebel was strong. Unshakable. I had a renegade itch. A longing to be radical. To be real.
I’d never done it before. Hell, I hardly snap selfies, period, unless someone else is in the frame with me. And even with someone else in the picture, it feels awkward, ridiculous, and somewhat self-indulgent to me.
This day was different. The uprising in me was undeniable.
I stripped off my pajama shorts and tank top and flung them into my closet. I stood in front of my mirror in my black silk thong and purple everyday bra (you know the one, you wear it every day because it’s the most comfortable and makes your boobs look phenomenal).
As I looked down, the negative thoughts came creeping in. I began judging myself.
Dammit. I hate my doughy stomach. Why can’t it be thinner? Flatter?
If I just smell bread I swell up like a balloon!!!! FML.
I cursed myself for eating gluten-free bread for breakfast.
I examined the bulge on my back forming under my bra. I scanned my cellulite-speckled, pancaked ass. I glared at my C-section scars. My saggy tits.
When will I stop caring? When will I stop this masochistic self-hate cycle?
I’m a 31-year old grown-ass woman. A mother.
I should know better. I should know better than to care about this manufactured, body image bullshit. I should know better than to buy into the media-produced, photoshopped version of people.
The beauty industry has me by the balls, but I should know better. I should do better. The internal conflict was relentless.
My mind teetered back into positive-action mode.
F*ck this, I can do this. I can do it. I WANT to do it. I psyche myself up, THIS IS FOR ALL WOMANKIND, DAMMIT. This is for mothers who have body issues. This is for my daughters. This is for me.
I sat down next to the overflowing laundry basket on my bedroom floor. I crossed my legs and propped my iPhone up against the Lego sculpture my kids had built in the middle of my room.
I positioned my phone at the perfect angle to capture both my belly rolls and my smile.
I resolved not to do my “perfect selfie” routine (hold camera above head, tilt face, find great natural light, yadda yadda yadda). No, this had to really be real.
I set the timer for 10 seconds and I let it snap. I immediately grabbed my phone and looked at the picture. It needed something. A filter. I slapped the iPhone “process” filter on that puppy (because hello, I’m not THAT confident) and hit DONE.
Then I let the picture sit in my camera roll. I was still a bit unsure about posting it. Better to pause on it a second than to post it impulsively.
A few hours and glasses of wine later (please don’t judge my liquid courage), I posted the picture to my Facebook page with a short status update. Here’s an excerpt:
Because sometimes feminine clothes hurt. The tailored cuts, too narrow, figuratively and physically, feel too deep.
This is my life as a woman, mother and survivor. In the flesh. I shall fold, in the flesh, even though there's not a frown, or fright of my real body. This is me.
I mean, was I being slightly cerebral and dramatic? Absolutely.
But, I have to tell you, the experience of exposing oneself feels transformative and powerful.
Posting this picture was my poetry.
If I could inspire one more person to be body positive and maybe even post a picture of themselves, my anxiety, the possible ridicule from trolls, would all be worth it.
Mostly, I just wanted people to relate to me. Human to human. Skin to skin.
And they did.
Ninety “likes,” 16 comments (all positive and supportive), and a couple of shares. I’m not saying that’s epic, according to social media standards, but the number blew me away.
I’m not sure I had expected anything to come of it. Maybe a few supportive likes from my friends or family. Not from strangers!
And just like that, I loved my body.
At least for that day. The high lasted about 24 hours. Which sounds small and ridiculous.
But when you've hated your body every second of every day for the past 16 years, 24 hours of self-love feels like a lot.
And I’ll take it.
Even if it’s only in 24-hour increments.