We all know how difficult it can be to feel attractive, when we are often made to feel like we are not. Whether it is advertising, mainstream media, or the meaner members of our family, it can seem like we are constantly bombarded with information on how unappealing certain features of our bodies are, and how we might go about ‘fixing’ them (for a ‘perfectly reasonable’ sum of money, of course).
Before I started this whole self love/body acceptance journey, I could have easily picked out a dozen parts of my body that I either was not keen on, or that I found genuinely disgusting – and that list would not have been all-inclusive. That was a terrible thing, made all the more terrible with the knowledge that a lot of other people could do the same.
I cannot emphasise enough how important self love and body acceptance have been for me, on the most personal of personal levels. I can now say that I love my body and all it does for me, because self love has helped me give myself permission to do so. Better still, I have discovered that there are parts of my body that I find really, really attractive, despite all of the talk that surrounds me and says that these parts of me are ugly, and I should not be finding them attractive at all.
Well, too bad, because I do. Here are five conventionally unattractive parts of my body that I think are super attractive.
My Chicken Skin
I thought I would start things off with the most delicious-sounding body part. Keratosis pilaris, or ‘chicken skin’ as it is more euphemistically known, is an inherited condition whereby the hair follicles on different parts of the body are very slightly plugged by an excess of keratin (a protein). The nickname ‘chicken skin’ comes from its rough texture and bumpy appearance. It kind of looks like permanent, reddened goosebumps. It is extremely common, particularly in younger females of Celtic descent (*raises hand*), and most people have small sections of it on their upper arms and thighs.
I have never been one to do things by halves, however, so I also have it on my forearms, all over my legs, on my arse, and along my upper chest. I can honestly say that I have never met a fellow human with as much KP as me, and I used to hate it to the extent that I rarely wore sleeveless shirts (something which is hardly ideal during the hot Australian summers) and I would try to cover it up with tanning lotion.
But now I love my chicken skin. I cannot say when or how quickly the switch from hate to love happened, but I think it started when I realised that my KP kind of looks like freckles (something that I find super attractive on other people, and would find attractive on me if I had many of them). There is something strangely alluring about the random patterns of KP on my skin, and its slightly rough feel. As an anxious person, I draw a lot of comfort from stroking my forearms and feeling the roughness there. Mostly, though, I like the uniqueness of it. I like how it makes my skin interesting, and different. There is a lot of beauty to be found in uniqueness, I think.
My Surgery Scar
I have written about my scar, and the surgery that led me to receive it, before. Having had the scar for less than a year, it is still a fairly new addition to my permanent outer landscape.
A lot of people have surgical scars. As the doctors at the hospital explained to me at the time, they always do the least invasive surgery they can in an effort to prevent much scarring, meaning that many people get away with the tiny, barely noticeable scars of keyhole surgery or caesarian sections. But, as I said above, I have never been one to do things by halves. My scar is a massive, thick, red line that goes from about 10cm below my breast bone to 10cm below my navel. It is not exactly subtle, and the doctors were very apologetic when they told me they had to do this surgery, because of the ‘unattractive’ scar they knew would come from it.
But when I look at my scar, I don’t see something unattractive. Instead, I see a story. I see a story of pain, anger, fear, uncertainty, bravery, and, ultimately, triumph. I see the mark of a significant journey I had to make, and a reminder that I am more capable of getting through hardships that I normally give myself credit for.
And that, to me, is very attractive indeed.
My Small Breasts
OK, they are not that small. There is a good handful there at least. But they certainly look small on me, as I am a fat, apple shaped woman with a large, protruding belly that dwarves my boobs considerably.
And yet, I find my breasts, and particularly their size, most appealing. I am not entirely sure why, but I think part of it has to do with their being relatively easy to manage. Although it can sometimes be difficult finding bras with small enough cups/wide enough bands for me, it is nice not needing to think about underwiring or back support or bounce-minimising technology or whatever else my larger-breasted brethren are forever dealing with.
There is something to be said about the beauty of convenience, it seems.
More Radical Reads: 10 Tips for Radically Loving Your Body (Disabled or Otherwise)
Bulky Arm Muscles
As the fattest and only female child in a fat-shaming family, I was taught from a painfully young age that I should be thin, and small, and poised. The fact that I was not, and continue to not be, any of those things, is a source of disappointment. It is a small source of disappointment, mixed in with numerous things that counteract the disappointment many times over, but it is a source of disappointment all the same.
But one thing I was taught about female beauty that is, perhaps, less conventional, is that strength is one of the most attractive assets a woman can have. I can remember being a kid, seeing the visible muscles on my mother and some of her friends, and wishing that I had big muscles like that.
And now that I have finally found an exercise regime that works for me, I am starting to develop the arm muscles that I have always wanted. They still are not quite visible yet, but I can feel them, and that pleases me greatly.
More Radical Reads: My Red Bikini: Self-Love is Worth It
My Stretch Marked Belly
I first noticed my stretch marks when I was about 10 years old. At that time they were thick, red, and stuck out like a sore thumb. It has been nearly 20 years since then, and most of those stretch marks have faded to white or grey.
I found stretch marks pretty embarrassing as a kid. I thought I was too young to have them – weren’t they something that women who had been pregnant normally had? The fact that I had them felt like yet another reminder that I was fat, and that was bad.
But now, I find the stretch marks have a somewhat similar allure to my chicken skin. They are unique, in that no two people’s stretch marks are completely the same. They also add to the interest and variation that is my belly – an area of my body that is already interesting and varied. And, like with my chicken skin, there is something that I find strangely alluring about my stretch marks, and how they travel up my body.
It would be wrong of me to say that I have completed my body love journey. There are still parts of my body that I do not love, and there is a good chance that I may never love them. But I am okay with that. The fact that I now find parts of my body attractive despite what the society around me says about them, is a greater gift than I could have dreamed of when I started.
[Feature Image: A photo of two people holding hands. They are both wearing rainbow bikini tops. The person on the left has red hair and the person on the left has black hair. They are wearning necklaces and in the background are green trees. Source: Sangudo]