Ever since puberty hit me like an unanticipated bomb, I have been making lists of things that hate about my body. This harmful habit has left its ugly marks in journal after journal, a constant reminder of atypical teenage angst that triggered gender questions that I was unprepared to answer. I used to feel trapped in my own soft flesh, bound by a short stature, a “feminine” figure, face too delicate and feet too small.
Then I discovered outlaw bodies like mine.
I found hope in the hollows of her collarbone, in the ridges of his sternum, in the half-heart shapes of their hipbones, in hir wide, wakeful eyes. She says that she doesn’t see gender—only bodies. Movement is the only signifier that captures her frantic, flickering gaze. He says that he likes the edges of things—a fragile earlobe, the crinkled corner of a smile—but I like what’s in between. I like the tootsie roll pop center of a body, the part that is tough and vulnerable all at once, the part that we are most terrified to share.
Now I want to find my own center. I want to own my movement, my edges, the hormones that flow through my bloodstream without my consent. I did not ask for this body, but if I were given the choice now, I wouldn’t change a single unwanted curve or freckle. This body has provided me with a unique vehicle for navigating the world, busting through binaries wherever my Converse-clad girlfeet carry me.
Yes, sometimes I still feel trapped by the inevitable reading of biological signifiers. Yes, I have the option to remove the parts that don’t make sense, to shoot up genderjuice that will allow strangers to perceive me more accurately, blurring uncertain edges into something real and whole. For now I place these options in the back pocket of my brain and find my core instead, take a deep breath and center myself, steady the thoughts that take off like rockets every time a body touches me in the wrong way in the wrong places, every time I catch a glimpse of those frustrating edges in the mirror.
So let’s make a pact.
I will love this body because I love his and hers and yours. We will center ourselves in the space between skin and breath. We will own our bodies the same way we own our hearts. After all, loving ourselves in these vague, vibrant bodies is the most radical thing we can do.