Like a Botero Painting
Once upon a time, I was crossing a busy downtown street, and even though the light was red, the oncoming vehicle didn’t think it should stop first, before turning right. I also didn’t think I needed to stop walking through the crosswalk either because I had the right a way, granted, I didn’t have the WALK sign. We were both kind of right and kind of wrong.
I don’t think I can be held accountable though, had I been hit, because it was raining ya’ll. I was soaked and on a mission to get back to the office from bank trip, that was more like a journey to Mordor. I had even slammed my hand on the bank door and was bleeding. By Gandalf though, I dropped that bank deposit into the depths of what is also known as Wells Fargo.
The odd part of almost dying, was what I was thinking as the car screeched to a halt, coming closer than I’d ever like to admit to hitting me. My life didn’t flash before my eyes, I didn’t think about what kind of underwear I had on, trust me, it didn’t matter anyways. No, I thought, “Fuck, someone’s going to see my YouTube history and they’re going to tell everyone not to come to the funeral, because I was THAT weird.”
I joined the YouTube train car a little late in the game, but trust me, I’ve been making up for lost time.
It started innocent enough. Initially, I mostly just searched Newsreel bloopers, where a newscaster was trying to record a piece and some random person in the background would pull out their penis. I invited myself to cry by watching service member homecomings, and dog videos. I watched calming videos to help me fall asleep at night.
I even relearned how to set a mousetrap. One day, I knew how to set one, the next I didn’t and the video was very informative and thankfully didn’t actually show a mouse get murdered in an unaware blissful state of licking peanut butter off the trap. Sometimes I feel guilty about being a mouse serial killer, but, I mean, we could totally get along if they just didn’t shit on my counters. It’s like they eventually started doing it for spite. The mice got hip to the fact that I was trying to kill them and stopped eating off the traps. They’d leave little mouse turds completely all around the contraption, where I’d find it in the morning and scream obscenities, but secretly, I was actually kind of relieved I didn’t have to dispose of another body.
Then my YouTube viewings got a little desperate. Straight Rom Com levels of pathetic girl questions and goals.
I had been with Jackson for going on eight years, and let’s just say, I let myself go. As it often tends to do, the lusty wantings and craziness of the relationship was waning. I’m a firm believer in not wallowing and getting down to hard work in fixing anything. Relationships had the same rules. I turned to YouTube instead of body oil and candles to relight the spark. I literally searched, “how to tell if your boyfriend likes you,” “how to please your man,” “how to be feminine,” “how to be a lady,”- none of the advice included wearing mu mu’s and I found that very disappointing. I searched, “how to be sexy,”- that one usually just brought up a lot of videos making fun of women trying to be sexy. Most of the clips just told me to be myself and there’s nothing sexier than a confident woman. No shit Jeeves, I just got to be confident with what I have going on already and it’ll all be ok?
I tried to refine the search, vague tips on going out into the world and rocking it were of no help. So, I tried to break down what ‘sexy’ would mean to me.
I looked for videos on how to dress a short body that was only slightly pudgy. I had gotten into a habit of wearing sweatshirts and cargo pants every day. Basically, all the videos said it came down to wearing maternity shirts. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but that was what it felt like. The videos suggested wearing shirts with empire waists and cinching cardigans with belts. This doesn’t work for me, because I find belts completely cumbersome, it takes me long enough to go to the bathroom.
I looked up videos titled “how to be awesome,” and I’m not proud of it. All of them said I should just accept that and continue to be awesome and, again, this came up over and over, to be myself, because that’s the best way to be attractive. Really, I thought it was being a size 4 with shiny hair and six-foot long legs, but who am I to make up the rules.
Oh no, the videos say, you don’t have to be gorgeous, just be happy and smile and everyone will like you. You can have any guy you want then, have your own hobbies and your own life and they’ll come crawling, or your current manfriend will fall in love all over again. Uh, what if my hobbies are reading self-help books and drinking beer while doing laundry, the bf isn’t exactly turned on by my “Not tonight honey, I’ve got to finish this chapter in Harry Potter, maybe after.”
Look guys, I don’t have body dimorphic disorder. I know what I look like, and I consider my self-image as just real. I wasn’t ok with that for a long time though. I mostly just tolerated how I felt about myself.
Onward and forward, back on the internet, I looked for ways to connect with my yoni (sounds like Toney, and it means ‘vagina’ according to one sexual guru woman on YouTube). Adina, the goddess on the screen, had a whole channel about feeling your best and sex and relationship tips. The video about vagina health was traumatizing. She used the P word like it was no big deal, like she was saying the word antelope. This was pretty cool actually when you get down to it, it’s just another word to use. One vajayjay tip, was to peel a cucumber and….you know, because it’s good for cleaning it out and kills bacteria and it’s very cooling and whatnot. No, just no.
Adina also told me to talk to my vagina. This is how that conversation went:
Me: “Hey, Cecilia (that’s her name), what’s up?”
Me: “Come on, don’t be like that, talk to me.”
Vagina: “I don’t have anything to say, I just want to sleep, why are you doing this?”
Me: “I just want to know how you’re feeling.”
Me: “Forget it,” purses lips, stomps off and eats Oreos, even though the video said to eat citrus fruits because that would make Cecilia more appealing.
The video on my lady part’s health was mostly just entertaining. I did kind of think the idea of giving my hooha sunshine with a sun bath was pleasant sounding, though I’m not really sure how legally I could make that work out. I may revisit the video one day, but not today. I do plan on drinking more water though, that’s the fix for everything.
The night I discovered makeup tutorial videos turned out to be a five hour exercise in futility.
You mean I can put makeup on to look ten pounds lighter without running that seven miles today, sign me up. I watched hours of instruction on how to make my pores look smaller, and how to use contour powder to sculpt cheekbones that can cut hard cheeses. Mostly, it felt like I had the skill level of a toddler trying to improve the Mona Lisa with fingerpaints. I would put the contour powder on and it just looked like I was smudging dirty soot on my cheeks. The videos promised I could make my hooded eyes into a completely different shape. Mostly, I just ended up looking like Alice Cooper on a bender out in the rain.
I spent a lot of money on Amazon ordering makeup and special brushes, in a “war zone,” while deployed to Afghanistan. This made me feel guilty for a whole slew of reasons. Back home, everyone assumed I was in rough conditions, living in a tent. This tour, I had it pretty good. I had my own room, I wasn’t eating MRE’s, and bad guys weren’t trying to kill me, for the most part. I felt bad, until I remembered, hey, I did live in a fucking tent for awhile, in Iraq. I did have to pee out in the middle of nowhere while out on mission, I had gone hungry because cold food just wasn’t worth it back then, and I’d had my crotch grabbed by a local national who was supposed to be getting water out of my vehicle I was sitting in.
Fuck it, I thought. I’d earned this break.
Then a funny thing happened. I kept watching the makeup videos at night and kept trying. Soon, I could make my eyes look sultry. Shit, I didn’t wear a full face of makeup at work, because that would just be silly. I could however, do my makeup in the privacy of my own room and just look at myself. Not half bad, I thought.
Back in the states, I usually only look in the mirror long enough to see my shirt isn’t on backwards before I head off to my office job. I wouldn’t say I avoided mirrors at home, I just didn’t hang out with them very much.
I had a mirror on the back of my door in Afghanistan. Every morning, I’d wake up to stare at my crazy sky high hair, looking like Crazy Bones, from Bone Thugs and Harmony. I’d get undressed from my sleeping clothes (usually sweats) and see myself, naked. At night, I’d get undressed out of my uniform and put the sweats back on. I lost some weight, but not a crap ton. I’d find myself just standing in front of the mirror, looking at my frame from different angles. I eventually stopped looking away.
I think, a lot of times, people don’t find beauty in things that are foreign to them. For most of my life, that’s what my body was. It was foreign and I never really SAW it. It was there, doing what it had to in order to get through each day. It was simply a work horse.
As each day went on, I started to see my body and day after day, I looked closer at it in the mirror. The lines of my collarbone were quite pretty. The outline of my hips didn’t seem so gargantuan anymore, they were curvy and plentiful. My curly hair started to look like “bed head” in a good way. The curve of my belly still looked as soft as ever, but this was no longer a bad thing. My legs, though, oh my legs, my thighs were round, but when I looked down toward where they meet the knees, they looked strong, like dancer’s legs, maybe not quite ballerina-esq, more like a Cha Cha Slide queen, but still, a dancer’s legs they were. My ankles, like my wrists were dainty, shit guys, maybe even feminine dare I say.
My face still feels fatter than the subject of a Fernando Botero painting sometimes, but now I can just slap some magic cream on, blend away, and I’m Kate Moss for a day.
Even if I don’t have time or the desire to put makeup on, I can still look at myself as a whole, and it’s pretty damn sensational.