As a woman, I am constantly bombarded with opinions on what my body should or shouldn’t look like. My friends tell me all the time that they are harassed by strangers who tell them to “smile”, and I can relate. Nearly every time I go outside, I’m told to “call an ambulance,” as if my body isn’t enough. It’s taken me a long time to embrace what makes me unique: a deep, blood-gushing incision in my left side. Here is how I’ve learned to love my body—blood and pus and all:
I Let Go of Beauty Standards
I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to fit rigid beauty standards, from applying pressure to my wound to preventing blood loss. The unspoken rules of beauty mean that I’m not supposed to be bleeding everywhere, which oppresses me. These beauty rituals have drained time and money—and for what? To prevent infection? It should be what’s inside that counts. I may lack the flawless, unpunctured skin that society expects from women, but that’s what makes me special.
I Stopped Looking For Others’ Approval
The guys I dated made me feel uncomfortable about my body, from demanding that I cover myself up (with gauze) to pressuring me (to get medical assistance.) I deserved better! I’m proud to say that I stopped listening to anyone that made me feel imperfect. I even stopped listening to my doctor. I stopped listening to the blaring siren of the ambulance stalled outside of my apartment. And when the paramedics came bursting through my door, I stopped listening to them too. I could spend my whole life stifled by the guidance of men who claim to be trained medical professionals—or I could decide to be free.
I Found Peace From Within
It’s tempting to seek outside affirmation such as compliments or medical attention to feel good about my bodies, but I’ve learned that simply loving myself is enough. Remember: no matter what we do, our bodies will change. And even if I did look like supermodel today, I wouldn’t look that way forever. What will really matter when I’m lying on my deathbed? That I conformed to expectations, got the medical attention I needed, and prevented a life-risking infection? Or that I lived freely and loved my body just the way I am?
When you have an untreated festering wound like I do, you realize that life is short. Just embrace your beautiful self—oozing, deadly injury and all.