the bride wore bitter

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Dearly Belittled…

We have voted here today…

Yeah, I know.

One week ago. I haven’t cried about it. Not once. I confess I’ve been almost entirely indifferent because I can’t get the questions out of my head; what if this whole public vote regarding our rights was for something we actually needed? While the right hand’s distracting us by dangling this carrot, whose is the left shaking? How, when nothing has changed, we just know more precisely what we already did for both better and worse, can we be celebrating?

And of course, the million-dollar question: why don’t I feel anything?

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Don’t get me wrong- I voted, I messaged people, I jumped on a phone bank, I social media spammed, I cross-examined colleagues. I did it for every individual couple I knew who want to feel that equality, who don’t want to live with the tension of difference guiding their lives, who want to be who they are outside the crucible of prejudice. I thought I wanted that too – but this “debate”, this plebiscite, this invasion of my privacy, this sick indictment on the country I call home – of all the things it did both dreadful and disastrous, it also made me realise something.

I have power. More power in that crucible, than outside of it.

This isn’t true of everybody, I don’t think. We weren’t all built to disrupt, nor should we be. That’s what the right to live in peace means. Quinn Eades, who has swiftly stormed up my list of heroes, made mention of something in a keynote at the Australian Homosexual Histories Conference this past weekend. That there is now classified a condition beyond Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, called Total Human Devastation Syndrome. Those words struck and split every pane of glass that protects me from the horror of the world so I can still step out in it. Total Human Devastation. What a world, what a world. Where love is cause for political debate and discrimination. I realised that I’m numb to more than I’m comfortable to confess, because the momentum and enormity of the world we live in now on a constant stream-feed, has taken me beyond exhaustion and disappointment. I’m not so despicable as to say I’m totally devastated by humanity. I am so despicable as to say I have no idea what to do, and where I know I could start, I’ve not. Not yet. I’ve been preoccupied by – and as – propaganda.

My life, my love, my rights are not a brand.

I’m asking you to understand that the ends did not justify the means. For me, and many, this has been a disaster. For some people, it was the last straw. Not everyone got to celebrate YES; some died waiting, others died fearing. The prejudice has been activated – the people who voted NO? They’re pissed, and here’s where we’d better clue in quick: they’re coming for our kids. Ground has been gained on marriage, but education is not a privilege or a luxury or a decision. Education is a necessity. That 38% are going to work harder than ever to ERASE, ISOLATE, and IMPLICATE us in whatever way will diminish the freedom to be themselves that young people are already compromised in.

Christmas Day. Ten children gather around the tree, while their respective, and respectable, parents look on. Nine of the children receive ten gifts, one from each family. One child receives six, because four of those sets of parents have decided they have the right to disable equity. Is the child grateful for the presents they did get? Absolutely. And they’d better be, because for a child to declare their observation that they had been unjustly treated would be socially unacceptable. Should the child have a tantrum, and show their anger about being discriminated against, well that’s just disgraceful.

So I might be a disgrace. I might be an ingrate. I’ll tell you what else I am. Unprotected. Fashionable. Observed.

I’m also alive. Which is more than I can say for myself were I to have been born in Chechnya, or Russia, or Chernobyl, or Beirut, or in one of the many nations from which I might’ve fled for safety and found myself held in detention just off the mainland of where I was born. But I can get married. Thank goodness.

Never mind the fact that I find relationships difficult to manage as someone who has been sexually assaulted in such a way to irrevocably damage my sense of trust and safety, and physically injured me permanently, though circumstances were not clearly warranting of recourse. I’m holding out for more than one miracle here.

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So please. Continue loving your fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, queer, and questioning. Do it more, and more fervently. DO NOT throw your YES posters away, stay identified as an ally. We need you now more than ever, for the sake of what future approaches. Please also understand and respect that some of us may not be as excited as you are, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still together on this one. Still fighting. Still family. ‘Til death do us part.

B.

my funny Valentine

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It’s like something out of a movie. Boy and girl meet in primary school, cue the meet-cute music, and become best friends. She defends him from bullies, he invites her over for dance parties. They share secrets and feel like finally they have a friend who understands them. Then suddenly, without a word, he’s gone. Vanished back to his hometown and they lose each other. With the arrival of social media they try to find one another, but both use aliases! Until facebook. There’s an email and a teary reunion, nine years since they’ve seen each other as children, and they still have so much in common and he’s happening to be visiting in ten days for the first time in four years. Cue the meeter-cuter music. They spend the day together, it’s perfect. And then the story really begins.

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I think both of us have spent far too many moments pondering the eternal question ‘no seriously how is this my life?!‘ but in the past ten years since we reconnected, and nearly twenty since we first met, it really has played out like a dream come true. And it never ceases to humour and astound us how much discursive trouble our relationship gets us into.

Valentine’s Day is traditionally an occasion for romantic couples, which we are not, but here’s the big deal: I don’t care what capitalist codswallop flogging the inadequacies of my independence have to remark, nor how many other people are vying for the delight and privilege of being your Valentine. You, Phoenix, are my Valentine. So this one’s for you…and for those of you playing along at home, still cluing in as to how a committed relationship between two platonic parties could possibly be a thing.

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It’s always such a thrill to hear people bandy about words like love and trust about people they’ve known for all of three orgasms. But deep unyielding trust builds over time, and is strengthened, not shrunk, after being fractured. I can’t say we’ve fought, but we’ve thrived through drama and disappointment by being open beyond our own pride and getting to the root of what we need from each other to move forward, and delivering that to the best of our ability. She often tells me she’s not scared of my darkness, and I know I’ve shed some light on hers.

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Compatibility often comes down to having the right things in common, and the right things in contrast. We’ve both been through very similar things in our lives, but have grown from those in different ways. It’s that typical ’rounding out’ where we can rely on each other to provide the perspective we need honestly, knowing that the time will come around we’ll need to hear it back to us. One of the best parts of our relationship is the freedom to challenge each other and ask for what we want from each other, and expect participation to make that happen.

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Then of course, it helps to have a healthy serving of laughter. Seriously lady you make me laugh like a loon on loon tablets. You have split so many of my sides, and we take almost psychotropic delight when we do pressure down. I think this really is the key, is that ability to not only drop down into the deepest discussions and despairing equations, but also find each other far funnier I fear than we may actually be. Oh well.

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Then there’s of course the thing that takes a relationship from stable, from fruitful, to pure sparkle: encouragement. As much as we challenge each other, we know how to encourage and celebrate each other. Goodness knows that has transcended to the odd bit of financial support as well. I once told you that the only way I was ever going to meet someone is if they took a look and went “yeah, what a weirdo, that’ll work!” and your response was that the right person doesn’t actually find you weird at all, they just love you right off the bat. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

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While we’re on the topic of meeting people, I appreciate that it’s complicated to make sense of why two people who love, support, co-habit and plan a future together can not be having sex, but here’s the secret: WHEN IT IS BEDTIME, WE DON’T DO IT. We are more than willing, in fact we’re hoping, to accommodate a person in each other’s lives who brings that romance, intimacy along with love and support. But how people can expect that once you hook up with one of us, that the other goes off duty, or that our years and years of trust and trauma will conveniently scatter to the wind will always confound me. The happiness we craved and cried for, we have found with each other, and there’s no chance in hell we’re giving it up; we’ll transform it to involve other people and share the love and happiness, but to love us means to love the parts of us the other has helped to build. So be grateful and lets get to kissing!

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Most people who know me understand that I struggle with the whole ‘together’ thing and due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, I’ve historically not been involved in too many relationships. I’m still coming to terms with what it means for us to be in each other’s lives, because I fall into the same traps of not seeing us for what we are, soulmates. The reality is that if we were same-sex partners, everyone would be on board. But we’re not, and that permits us to find other means to create value in our relationship. Who knows what the future holds for us, but here’s all that needs to be known:

Phoenix, you make me happier than far too many people wanted me to believe I could be. You make me excited for the future, and your presence gives me the strength to tackle so many things. Your honesty has helped my friends be bolder with me, your caring has helped my family relax about my choices, and I just think you’re all about it. I love you Brow Bae. Crack Pussy. Vvife. P. Phi. You’re it.

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PS thank you to every reader who has reached out. I know these latest ones have seemed a little self-served, but I need to do that at the moment. Establish myself, evacuate those things about me I want to share. It’s part of a bigger picture I promise. I also promised I wouldn’t do announcement things, so just enjoy and please be one of those people who feels encouraged to be you and fight for whatever makes you happy and contributes to the happiness of the collective. We need that. Happy Valentine’s Day.

B.

PS. Babe 11 years is jewellery. Or if you count the lost years, 28 is orchid!

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to be Aquarian.

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In Greek mythology, Ganymede was a young man whose beauty and innocence attracted the eye of Zeus. To consummate his love, Zeus carried Ganymede to Mount Olympus and gave him the sacred duty of bearing water for the gods, as well as being his lover. Hera became enraged with jealousy and so to protect the young man, Zeus cast him into the sky as the constellation Aquarius where he would be immortalised and honoured as a symbol of sacred love between men.

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The age of 27 holds a hush about it. Some of our most treasured – and far more contemporary – idols have not made it past the tender year. Some mark it as the commencement of our Saturn return, an astrological event that stirs unrest and resonant challenge in our lives. My peers begin to think much more critically about the state of their lives as the ominous thirty is suddenly more apparent, and its ever-approaching encroachment becomes an acute component with which we pursue or ambitions, aspirations, desires. I have made a conscious effort in all my years to make each year mean something specific in my growth, ‘cos that’s what hippy dippy Aquarians do. I’ve been sure to mark each year of my life with some sort of interstate move, spiritual quest or grand effort at a creative endeavour. Although I have been of the philosophy that the only thing remarked upon by age is the proof that one comprehends the principles of counting, this one feels like it’s worth really steeping in.

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Aquarians are the hipsters of the zodiac, obsessed with originality and liberation. We’re moody, often a little too self-reflective (read: narcissistic), and often pair hyper-pragmatic ambition with day-dreamy idealism, to infuriating effect. Aquarians are independent, intellectual and focused more on immortality than immediate gratification. An Air sign, they’re fixated on the new, on communication and adventure. The sign’s colour is yellow and planet is Uranus (used to be Saturn).  The most frustrating thing about being an Aquarian is that it makes me predictable in my thirst for unpredictability. I suck at ‘commitment’, completely susceptible to reverse psychology, and yeah being a homosexual with a preference for the older and wiser whilst being inherently cautious of envious women? Often I feel like the very essence of an Aquarian.

To be Aquarian is to consider very deeply the lessons one is on this Earth to learn. In the Orphic cult of Ancient Greece, their belief in reincarnation was tied very closely to astrology, in that souls spent only twelve lifetimes on the planet, in each sign of the zodiac, to learn what they were destined to, and contribute to the knowledge of the universe. In those twelve lifetimes, if they could reconcile their lesson then they spent eternity in the Summerland; if not, in Hades. In the past year, I felt an incredible emergence of deep equations with which I struggled with my sanity to resolve. Being 27 is an exciting time to be working at this level, where I consider how to balance my physical body, awaken my sexual body, understand my blood relationships, and activate my creative practice.

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The pursuit of the Aquarian is rarely beauty, money, or status, at least not for their own sakes. Most Aquarians seek authenticity by impact. In tarot, Aquarius is represented by the 17th card, The Star. A quote by the Carr-Gomms about this card I love is “Inner and outer are connected in perfect harmony. All you need to do is be. Intuition flows like a bright stream”. Life becomes a series of experiments to test resolve, test whether facets of personality are impermeable, test whether interactions are soul-level because that’s what we’re after this time around. I’ve interpreted this as a sifting between what fears can be approached, discovering how to seduce what scares me: exposure, intimacy, failure, success, misinterpretation, missed opportunity. Life to me is a swirling of musing and misusing. And it’s fantastic.

Loving an Aquarian is like a beautiful obscure science. Not to say its complicated, but that its something you either know or don’t. As with all things, it has to come naturally. Aquarians spook easy, their connections are either wildly passionate then swiftly abandoned, or only entered into with the deepest intellectual and inspirational connections, dropped right into deep vulnerability before being able to truly thrive. To love an Aquarian is never to tell them you love them so you can hear it back, but only when it’s so evident that to say it is simply a statement of fact in an endeavour for sincerity.

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Maybe this makes sense to those of you who know me, maybe it makes sense to those of you who know other Aquarians. But as you can see, to be Aquarian isn’t exclusive to Aquarians. It’s a state of mind many of us find we wash in and out of, or search for beneath moonlit crossroads. Many of us try frequently to find parameters by which we might be better understood, easier reached, deeper connected, longer loved.

Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to you. A sign is only as valuable, as what it’s directing to.

B.

 

I do not own the copyright to any of the images featured in this post. Please send any concerns directly.

don’t you know that you’re toxic?

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Some people come into our lives like bombs. Like their love is a threat. While our lives crumble around us, we focus intently on this little device, trying every way we can think of to decode, diffuse, disarm it, all the while knowing how probable it is that it will explode in our faces. Our friends flee, our families are crushed by falling rubble, our enemies shrug, and our future selves weep watching us. But we chip away, clipping wires, buying time. Like lives depend on it.

Imagine how things would be if instead of expending all that energy working/worrying/chasing/negotiating/pleading with that landmine love, we spent it on ourselves? And on the love we know we have? Imagine.

We take to that explosive like there aren’t millions of other people out there who could treat us so much better, when truly there’s no need to lose our youth and innocence when we know it’s only going to burn. So much hope we have for what we do possess, so little faith we have in who we are and what we could have if we believed we deserved it.

But the truth is an explosive too. Compared to that little bomb, the truth rains nuclear throughout our lives when it hits. A dreadful analogy to be sure, but when you know what horror some people have faced, how can you continue to accept the horrific behaviour of someone you owe nothing. Perhaps you owe them the freedom to understand the consequences. Perhaps you owe them the glory of you, fully realised and flourishing, not for them to be bitter about or saddened by, but proud they know when to give a good thing up for it to become the best thing for all involved.

Amanda Palmer wrote about an old adage…
“A farmer is sitting on his porch in a chair, hanging out. A friend walks up to the porch to say hello, and hears an awful yelping, squealing sound coming from inside the house.
“What’s that terrifyin’ sound?” asks the friend.
“It’s my dog,” said the farmer. “He’s sittin’ on a nail.”
“Why doesn’t he just sit up and get off it?” asks the friend.
The farmer deliberates on this and replies:
“Doesn’t hurt enough yet.” 

And this adage was the truth that rocketed through my life, stripping my defences and excuses. And little by little, I am getting up. I am barking back. Because I’ve realised a couple of things:

That there is a big difference between “I am who I am” and “I do what I want”.
That in this big, wide world there is no worse thing than needless pain.
That once really is enough. And sorry is not.
That it’s OK if this time isn’t it. There will be more if you want more.
That it’s OK if this time is it, but you don’t want any.
That the only reason they know how to hurt me, is because I taught them.
That the only reason they continue to hurt me, is because I let them.
And that the reason we love toxic people, is because we think we’re asking a lot in return.

When it comes to love, I genuinely believe that “you can’t love me, until you’ve hated me”. If the love endures past the hatred, or if the love dissolves the hatred, then you know it’s real. If the hatred lingers, if it grows, if it forms into meanness, dismissal, violence or torment, then you know what you need to do. Put the bomb down, suck the poison from the wound, take a shower, forgive, forgive, forgive, and remember you did all of that because you know how to love you. And for all that it may sting, for all that it may sicken, for all that it may scar, isn’t that a good thing?

B.

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Portraits of a Heartbroken Head

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Hell isn’t just real, it’s necessary. And if you don’t want to be in it anymore, then don’t be. Remember that the difference between heaven and hell isn’t sin or faith, it’s simply which of them you have the strength to let your life be part of (and what you’re willing to do to build that strength. Are you contributing to happiness, kindness and choice? Or sorrow, pity and dominance? It’s always much more complicated than that, but for the moment simplify what it takes to resurrect your mind from pain, confusion and fear to, ultimately, love.

Mental illness and instability has been on my mind a lot these past weeks. In order to process some of those thoughts, I drew on my face and offer these seven images of it to you, along with my lyrical and ripe melodrama. In the hope that by doing so I can continue to live heaven, and spur those around me to keep the conversation honest, challenging and special to the journey.

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DIS/ARM
The beginning for me is the ability to distance my mind from my body, confuse the power structure between the two. For the mind to treat the body like its vessel is the most intimate form of domestic abuse. Eating becomes incidental, hatred of flaws intensifies, heart rate becomes rapid, heat floods and self-care eddies away. Some people feel this distance so consumingly they can take a blade to their body, or a rope, or pistol. Some people feel this distance so suppressive they turn those weapons on each other. It’s a simple difference between recovery and ruin: putting the weapon down.

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NOT/HER
It does always come back to blame, and the harder it is to handle the impact of your choices in the present moment, the further you will run to the past to apportion the harm of who you are outside of yourself. But your parents cannot resolve who you feel now, and your past cannot be anything other than how you reacted based on who you were at the time. You can resurrect it and make the past the present so you can reattempt a resolution, but redemption will always come from what you do now to transform the future for what it can offer not torture the past for what it can’t change.

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SYCO/PHANT
Ambition hurts. Dreams, when applied to the present day, can corrode at your sense of self-worth like an acid addiction. This doesn’t mean you should abandon all aspiration; it means who have in your one life a serious decision to make. Do you focus your energy on satisfaction, or gamble everything on getting the goal? Before you cut your path one way or another, better know yourself so you know you can take one road without regretting the mystery of the other. Your decision isn’t irrevocable, you can double back, but wandering between admiration of idols and fighting for survival will exhaust. Remember as well that some people would give their lives to have lived so long as to still be able to choose.

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DISS/EASE
Other generations call mine weak, and selfish. Apparently that will shock us back into a sense of ourselves that can forget our species’ history of corruption and pollution, that can withdraw from the enormity of the world that we’ve been thrust underneath the scrutiny of, completely exposed to. One mistake makes a meme and civilian turns to celebrity turns to suicide. With the connectivity of the modern age, came the anonymity with which people could gleefully and liberally dispense stigma upon each other to distract from the impending destruction of our planet, and our very selves. This waste of time, waste of soul will be the key to regret and the type of barbarous, murderous ignorance that the threat of stretches our brains beyond breaking point.

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FREE/BODY
Sex is as much the enemy as the remedy. No currency is as valuable, no robbery as abhorrent, no plane as politicised by every system from civil to religious. The limitations of our most basic understanding of our own mechanics is not far from personal feudalism, whereby the mind does not respond to the environment, but weaponises it. My explorations of sexuality have led to a diversity and discomfort for which I’m grateful because it is a kind of liberation my heteronormative counterparts cannot name as they struggle with respect for the bodies as elemental, evolving. They can only be swallowed up by fantasy.

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CHOICE/CHANGE
It is scientific fact that we are creatures of two components: chemicals, and storytelling. We can be slaves to the narrative we recite to ourselves which some disguise as prayer, others as pep talk, and as far as our emotions are concerned, the things we tell ourselves become truth. There is a distinct difference between spending our lives writing our own story, owning our own plot highs and lows, and copying out what others wrote about us in their story. Or we might just read other people’s biographies and pay no duty to our own opus. Taking control hurts because we know what we’re gambling. Losing control hurts far more because we don’t know what we’re gambling. Like the man caught between the two cliff faces, our lives depend on our faith in surviving any trial of mind. Regret is the ultimate killer.

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GIVE/LOVE
Bearing in mind that there is only one way to learn, and that for all your hardship is relative to you, incomparable to another person’s pain or suffering, the only driving force away from trauma or fear, is love. I don’t mean romance, or sex, or even friendship. I mean a willingness to fall on your face so hard your nose breaks when your nose is the only thing you like about yourself, and still believe that your relationship within can still be filled with laughter and care and compassion. There’s little more frightening than knowing that of all the love you have, none of it is your own. It is a basic need we must provide for ourselves, however that is calibrated. For me it’s eating, and appetite suppression has long plagued me as a symptom of self-loathing and disappointment in myself. What I didn’t know, is that this refusal to sustain myself in order to get where I wanted to go is precisely what stands in my way.

Thank you. Gratitude is our easiest gift to ourselves, as forgiveness is to others.
Share you. In whatever way that looks like for you, and permits your simplest happiness, and therefore your most remarkable survival of this incredible place.
Love you. I know I do.

B.

I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)

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I’m mad at you.
I’m mad that you’re back at that square you swore over and over you had left behind, took my love and confidence, my advice and my gambling of our friendship to tell you the harshest truth.
I’m mad that my heart breaks for your pain all the same, to see you march back to the start knowing all you know, believing the lie you tell yourself that you’re doing everything you can.

High school is over, so it’s no longer of any value to inject drama into each other’s lives. As for our own lives, contemporary society provides plenty of drama without any self-amplification. Yet when it comes to the pursuit of true love, we thrive on raw nerves and will stop at nothing short of complete decimation of spirit and stability before we relinquish our partner to rebuilding and searching again. But heartbreak is not compulsory to qualification of a meaningful connection between people.

People who hurt you can change, but not always for you. The capability for a person to hurt you, is a remark on the relationship you have, not just what one person does to another. Very few people set out to be malicious, they just do what comes naturally to them based on how they respond to you. And the longer you let them because they swear they’ll change, the harder it becomes to divert from their nature. They might be different, but you have to be different too so they’ve got some understanding of something else to reflect from.

Making it work should feel like salvation, not suffering. Further to the above, many people succeed in solving their relationship’s problems by making the effort and altering their behaviour. But if you can’t articulate what you really need, or if you’re afraid or ashamed to identify what you need because you know the other person can’t provide it? Then all you’re doing is punishing them, and yourself, and turning a healing journey into scar tissue. Fearing being alone, or unliked, and avoiding that fear by maintaining a manipulative or negative relationship is nothing but selfish.

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Just because it hurts to see them go, doesn’t mean it won’t hurt if they stay or return
. We don’t live in binary world. Nor do we live in one where we don’t understand the value of pain and mistake in our lives. Our willingness to compromise on certain things is bound to change, I know I have had to challenge myself on my pretty harsh views of tattoos, recreational drugs, casual sex, improper workplace conduct because they were isolating me from those around me and from my own empathy for people who had made errors in judgement as I have in other scenarios. That being said, don’t assume that the resolution to the agony of someone leaving your life is to replace them, or bring them back. We call that a Band-Aid. If you cannot find the resolution inside of you, then that’s worth the time finding and experimenting to reach. Elsewise you are bound to repeat history.

Your relationship should improve life, not consume life, and definitely not destroy it. There is a difference between growth and change.  The fulfilment of your relationship, in my mind, should not equate to foregoing previous fulfilment. Is that love, or martyrdom? When you connect with someone of course the most rewarding component is the discovery of how you relate to each other, how you are magnetised. But when other relationships are impacted negatively by that rerouting of energy and commitment, it is worthwhile recalibrating ALL components to achieve balance, accept the losses, and hold fast to the one relationship imperative to survival: the one you have with yourself.

Don’t lie. Don’t lie. That’s it, don’t lie. Just don’t.

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Final note. You can only give so much of yourself to the healing of others, and beyond that it is your power to forgive that matters most. If the actions of others hurts you too much to bear, then that’s on you because their choices are their own to make based on the life they were dealt, just as you want to see the outcomes of your bad choices for yourself. No-one can really tell you, you have to live it. So if you love someone so much that it hurts you to see them saunter right toward suffering? Sort your own struggle, dispense with the drama, and unless it’s going to compromise your very nature, when they need you, be there. Every time. For no other reason than love. Of them, of yourself, of life. Love alone. Love together.

B.

 

All images intellectual property of Marina Abramovic and Ulay. Please report any concerns to brodiejpk@yahoo.com.au

Beauty is the Beast

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This is her. The one who showed me ever so dazed through the door of beauty, and upon my discovery of how tiny, claustrophobic and torturous the room on the other side was, swiftly locked the door and left me there. This is her. She is a crack-team of digital specialists, cosmeticians, marketing sharp-shooters, managers, their managers, their managers, and an innumerable force of people willing and proven to be counted upon to throw money up in defence of the obliteration done to their self-esteem. This is her.

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I have been measuring myself to this standard since I saw this advertisement at the age of twelve. Twelve. While most boys were looking to transform themselves into the Herculean hyper-masculine adored by the opposite sex doing as they were told, I was following suit. Same-sex attraction in the age of well-meaning ignorance, where my educators knew what the word ‘gay’ meant but still weren’t sure how to use it, created a vacuum where pursuit of the heteronormative standards was the surest road to romance. I knew what boys liked, and I could totally see why in this picture. But how on earth was I ever going to achieve it for my own? This question would haunt my posture, weight, gait, mannerisms, gender expression and self-esteem all through adolescence and well into adulthood.

They don’t necessarily call it body dysmorphia when although your perception of your body is inaccurate, you love it all the same. It’s hard to explain that when I look in the mirror, I see her. The reason I see her is because I learned somehow that as much as it was the shape of the body that created the attraction, it was the shape of the spirit and the sensuality that created the confidence. I know I couldn’t make a body like that no matter what I did at the gym, or what I ate- or didn’t. What I could do is invest in the inner parts of myself that believed I was as sensual, as sexual, as proud of my body as the woman in the picture.

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I don’t make a habit of being naked. The body has been politicised and commoditised to the point where thousands of jobs depend on our own dissatisfaction with the body we have. The only one, I might add. We can augment and amend it, but all too rarely we have no idea what it’s doing, what it’s asking of us. Some people think of their body as a bag for their brain. Some people think of it as their summary value proposition. I think of mine as a work of fiction.

To me the key to beauty is the willingness to confront your fears about your body, your comparisons to other bodies and in spite of every single thing telling you your body is insufficient or offensive, you don’t believe it. You better believe that the only thing ugly about you is a magazine, the only thing wrong with your body is a spring fashion show, and the only c-word you should find offensive is cosmetic.

Now don’t mistake me: being healthy, being strong, the best you can be is all incredibly worthwhile. But know the difference between genuinely feeling good about yourself, and feeling good about your appearance. That could be anything from your body, to your diet, to how busy people think you are, or how accomplished. When your whole self, flaws and all, become completely inseparable and you can truly love all of it and feel stronger for it, that to me is true victory. Fucking beautiful.

B.