Faceless

It all started as a game.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a people-watcher.

As a child, I would watch people for hours before even attempting to talk to them.

I’d scrutinize how you spoke. What you wore. When you laughed. What you liked. Whom you talked to.

I would watch and watch, try to figure out who you were. What you wanted.

And once I put together the pieces of your identity, I would form my own, making sure they clicked.

It was like a puzzle that only I could finish and it amused me to have that sort of power over you: to control exactly what you see.

But under all of that, I’d ensured that I was that girl:

The girl you want to speak to.

The girl you share all your secrets with.

The girl you like.


I flit from one person to the next, as graceful as a butterfly.

Always smiling. Always pleasing.

You come to me when you don’t have anyone else, and it’s my shoulder you cry on, it’s into my ears you whisper your darkest secrets.

I soothe. I comfort. I encourage. I motivate. I charm.

And when I’m finally alone, I laugh.

I laugh at the world, at how gullible you are, to think you know me, to trust me the way you do.

I laugh till I cry and then I cry till I can’t breathe.

The tears never end, it seems, they flow and flow relentlessly, leeching me of everything.

The real joke was on me, all along.

And I’d never realized.


I look in the mirror and don’t recognize the shadow that looks back into my eyes.

I don’t ‘like’ her.

In fact, I despise her.

I see myself wrapping my hands around her throat and squeezing until the light slowly fades from her eyes.

And then, I realize the girl is me.

The irony: I’d gained the affection of everyone else, only to realize that I couldn’t win me over too.

Alone, I’m a coward. I’m despicable. Spineless. A doormat. A hypocrite.

I morph myself to suit the people around me. My very identity is built on everyone else’s desires.

I’m no one without someone to please. Nothing without a task to complete.

And there is nothing left of ‘me’ now, of the person I could have been.

Before. Before all the masks.

 


When I look back, all I see is crushed dreams, and when I look forward, I see an eternity of nothingness.

But it’s what I see when I look within that truly scares me.

Underneath all my masks, I am faceless.

 

Photo by John Noonan on Unsplash

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Body positivity: The latest trend in Shame.

We’ve all come a long way from where we started.

Gone are the days where you see people telling you ‘how you have to look like to be loved’ and that ‘you just starve yourself for a few more days so that you’ll fit into a dress size’.

Today, we’ve truly managed to create something that could have been beautiful: Acceptance. Empowerment. Confidence. Freedom.

But somewhere along the way, we’ve gotten caught up in our heads and gone down the wrong road. A single blunder has changed everything.


People have started asking: if you truly loved your body, why would you want it to change?

That wouldn’t make sense.

A fairly simple, innocent question, really.

But there’s something far more menacing at work here. Shame.

Shame has found itself yet another expression, hiding behind banners that cry out messages of self-love.

All of a sudden, it’s scandalous to say that you aren’t content with your body.

The minute it gets out, you’re trampled and suffocated with claims of how you’re a traitor to women all around the world, how you’re a disgrace to yourself.

Even worse are the unwanted counsel and advice on how you should ‘just’ love yourself and accept who you are.

So, I’ll say it now:

No, I’m not one of those people who work out for the love of sweat or for good health and strength. I work out to look good. 

No, I didn’t eat that salad for dinner because I absolutely loved it. I ate the salad because I wanted to drop a few pounds.

No, I’m not content with my body. I want to be more toned and I want to be, gasp, leaner. Maybe these thoughts aren’t acceptable, but I won’t lie to myself by saying things I don’t mean.


I’m tired of excusing myself and my actions to people.

It’s exhausting, the lying to yourself, lying to everyone around you, thinking of excuses, worrying about being convincing enough, being someone you aren’t.

I’m sick and tired of it.

I used to feel like I’m doing something wrong by thinking these thoughts, that there must be something wrong with me if I can’t accept myself the way I am.

And those feelings are as damaging as thinking that you are too fat to be pretty.

This isn’t a question of insecurity or self-hatred.

Yes, I do love myself. I love my body, I love my personality and I know that I deserve to be loved by someone else too.

But I’m not going to say that I love that extra layer of flab over my stomach or that I love those 10 pounds that I want to lose or that I love that I sometimes walk like a frog.

Because I don’t love all of that. They are a part of me and I simply don’t. And if you do, that’s great. I’ll admire and respect you for that. But I don’t.

It’s a personal thing.

I want to change it.

And that doesn’t make me any less lovable.


At the end of the day, I want to be able to whatever I want to do without the shame, without the lies, without the excuses.

Because isn’t that what all of this is about?

Body-positivity, feminism, self-love, self-care, all of it, on a basic level is about owning your actions and doing whatever it is that you want.

And if you’re going to shame me for doing what I want to do under this very aegis, then what is the point in all of this?

Shame has merely found another incarnation, an even crueller one at that. Because now, it’s covered up in this sickly sweet façade of self-love.

Before, people walked up to me and said that I needed to lose a few pounds so that I can be ‘healthy’. Now, people walk up to me and say that I need to stop wanting to lose weight so that I can be ‘body-positive’.

There is no difference. Either way, I’m judged and shamed for something I’m doing and then pressurized to do something I don’t want to do.

We’re at the exact same place and no one realizes it.


When will we ever find that balance? Will we ever reach that place where we stop shaming other people for their actions and judging them?

Because maybe this is just a part of human nature, maybe we’re intrinsically programmed to pull each other down.

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I’m done.

I’m done being someone who I’m not.

I’m done acting like someone else just because of the latest trend going around.

The only trend that ever sticks around is shame and what I have learnt is that it simply isn’t worth it.

All that time you spent thinking of lies, delivering them, explaining yourself to people, explaining your actions to yourself: it’s not worth it.

From this moment, I am going to be unflinchingly honest with myself: whether it’s working out to look better or eating a salad to lose weight.

And I’m going to it without feeling bad or regretting it.

It’s a good life.

Who’s with me?