This list is not exhaustive. I have fantasized for my entire life about cutting away bits of myself. It’s part body image issues and part dysmorphia, which are somewhat related but not the same thing. There have been times when I’ve looked either in the mirror or at pictures of myself and been completely shocked at what I’ve seen; the image in my head just doesn’t match reality, and I’m not alone in this. This is something many people face, and it can be all-consuming. However, over the years I’ve grown more comfortable in my skin — not from anything in particular that I’ve done, it’s just something that’s happened over time, probably because my brain just couldn’t hold that much self-hatred on top of all the other things I was cramming into it. To survive, I had to slowly learn to love, or at least be okay with, who I was and who I am. It’s a process, and it’s not linear.
I’m sharing these things so that people realize that young girls (and really, all people) have a lot more going on than you may think, and simple comments about appearance— the things we can’t control, like weight, or height, or how big our ears are — might do more damage than you realize. I still remember the faces of the kids who first told me my ears were too big, and exactly where we were standing on the playground when it happened. It’s the reason I’m still hesitant to wear my hair up, even at 28 — and I actually think my ears are cute now. It’s just something that’s ingrained in me, all these years later. We should be kinder to each other, because it makes it easier to be kinder to ourselves.