Not Your Franken-beauty

Not Your Franken-beauty – by Bree Ervin
TW: body image, self-harm, eating disorders

I look in the mirror and start to pick
myself apart.

I am too much
and too little
not enough
abundantly full.

If only I could keep my ankles,
but with her calves;
my hands and shoulders,
those biceps and forearms;
my thighs, her ass;
that flat stomach,
with those round hips;
that nose, those cheeks,
my smile, but with her lips…

I examine each piece
of me
comparing it to
the ideal
I’ve been sold.

If only it was
more firm
more jiggly
toned and fighting fit
but still supple.

I take pictures of
the perfect parts,
cut them out
and piece
them together
at the seams.

I hold it up:
the ideal body,
and look
from it to me.

Perfect feet
to perfect calves,
to perfect thighs
to a perfect torso
tied on tight
by a perfect waist.
A perfect tummy
tacked to a perfect chest
to perfect shoulders
to perfect arms
wrists cuffed
to perfect hands.
A perfect smile
cut across a perfect face,
to a perfect neck.

Clamped, stapled, welded,
the perfect body
the perfect beauty
sold to us
by a society
set on making us believe
we are never
good enough.

But then I look
at the way
my body
holds itself
without the need
of tape or glue,
bolts or screws;
the way it resists
the pressure
to conform;
the strength
it reveals
as it carries
every flaw,
as if
it were
a masterpiece.

I am a masterpiece.

Every blemish
every bump
every wrinkle
every scar
every wobble
every dimple
every piece I see
tells a story
tells my story
shows my history
shows me.

I am a masterpiece.

Like The Illustrated Man
my body speaks
tells tales
sings epics
into being.
My lines and curves
my journey
through each challenge
to each new horizon.
It is a fable
of victory.
My body is a triumph.

I am not a Picasso
to be torn apart
and stitched back together,
a misshapen
of perfect parts
never meant
to fit together.

I am a masterpiece.

Note: I wrote this while thinking about several conversations I have had recently with colleagues, students, friends and my own kids about their bodies, body image, ideal bodies and the seemingly never ending quest for “the perfect body.”
I started thinking about what that even was – the perfect body.
Does anyone have it? What would that actually look like? When I started trying to puzzle it together, I realized that for myself, very few of the “perfect pieces” would actually match up well with each other. How do you attach a flat stomach to curvy hips? How do you balance the “strong is the new beautiful” aesthetic with the persistent socialization to be soft and supple?
I created a mental collage of perfect parts, torn edges stuck together with clear tape. It looked ridiculous. And for maybe the first time in my life, the spell was broken. I realized that the perfect body is a monstrous mirage, and one I want no part of.
Our bodies are masterpieces. Just as they are. They do so much for us. And they deserve to be loved. We deserve to be loved.
So, in case you need it – this is me, a stranger on the internet, sending you love and letting you know that you are enough. You are perfect. Just the way you are. Yes, even that, even there.
You are a masterpiece.

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