Triggers: self injury, eating disorders
If you had told me just three years ago that I would be comfortale submitting pictures of myself to a site like this, I would have laughed until I cried. All through high school and into college I struggled with eating disorders and self-harm. I was never thin enough. Never girly enough. Never perfect enough. I hated my shape, I could never lose the weight from the right places. But now, after graduating college, becoming really independent, and seeing that I can really make something of myself, I’ve started to become less insecure. More than anything, I’ve become more confident in my body after becoming more confident in myself as a person.
You may notice the bruising - I’ve become very active in the kink community (public BDSM events), which has been a huge boost for me. Though the community is made up of very strange and often misunderstood people, it is one of the most welcoming I have ever been in. I can strip down in a room full of complete strangers and have every single one tell me how beautiful I am; I can be tied down and beaten and yet feel safer than I ever have. I am facing my own triggers, I am building myself up. For me, it is a place of vulnerability, of strength, of release, of safety.
I never once thought I would be confident enough to put myself on display, but the constant affirmation has really only confirmed what I myself had already begun to realise - you don’t have to look a certain way to be beautiful, and beauty is not skin deep. Some of the most beautiful, powerful, and compassionate people I’ve met at these events are not conventionally “attractive”; they are older, overweight, genderqueer, disabled, “skin and bones”, transgendered, and so many more. It is such an accepting community, and a place where inner strength and beauty really have the chance to shine through.
Though it is certainly not for everyone, all of my experiences have brought out more of the real “me” than ever before, and I love the feeling of not waking up hating myself every morning. I never would have thought it possible. But if I have any advice for people, it is this - surround yourself with those who love and accept you, and really believe in yourself. The rest will follow behind.