This article originally appeared on adrienne maree brown under the title “self-love as a journey, practice and state” and is reprinted by permission.
today i am wearing a bikini in public. this week i also went topless in public. i consider these miraculous occurrences and proof positive that self-love work is worth it. my belly loves the sun as much as the rest of me does.
when i started gaining weight in my adolescence i quickly learned that it made me undesirable and unattractive, which i both wanted (sexual assault trauma 101) and hated (it’s lonely in there).
i have always loved swimming and sun, and i have worn a million wack bathing suits in order to access these things without feeling fat and offending people.
in 2012 i took a sabbatical that included mexico, costa rica, hawaii and california. on that trip i dabbled in nude sunbathing in private settings, and i made a promise to myself that i would get to the ocean, the warm ocean in the sun, at least once a year for the rest of my life. since then i have kept that promise, mostly in the yucatan.
i have documented myself, learned to see my face, my body. slowly, so slowly that sometimes it felt i was moving backwards through time.
in fact i have gone back and looked at pictures of me when i hated my body, and i can see how lovely it was, i was. lovely and hiding and clueless.
but the work is working.
self-love is a journey – i keep finding new bends in the road. first i couldn’t say fat. then i couldn’t show certain parts of my body. then i couldn’t trust other peoples’ attraction to me as legitimate. then i could dress my body but still feel daunted by my nakedness. then i could feel my beauty in the hands of others but not alone. then i could see something appealing in my face but not look below the neck. then i kept unveiling more and more of myself. then i had an ectopic pregnancy and reached my highest weight and had scars on my belly and dimples on my thighs and doubt in my heart. then i came out as a sugar addict and created circles of community around the truth of my feelings about my body. then i told someone my love of my body was unshakable, and it became true. then i began to stand up straighter and get somatic healing and sashay when i walked and believe people when they said i was irresistable.
More Radical Reads: 5 Conventionally Unattractive Parts of My Body that I Find Super Attractive
none of this is chronological, that’s the secret of journeys. circuitious, mercurial, tempestuous, trickster, but never straight.
and then self-love is a practice, or, many practices.
i have written about these practices before and just want to say: practices take time. more than 21 days, more than 3000 reps, even more.
practices for self love are like casting a spell in your body, waiting for a seed to open, accumulating the speed of flight.
More Radical Reads: Let the Light In: 6 Ways to Use Body Magick to Heal From Trauma
in this past few months i have experienced so much laughter, joy – and pain, grief. i am feeling more and more of my own emotional range. and as i feel more, it becomes easier to move towards what i want, without apology or guilt.
i live in a country/world where those in power want me to submit or disappear.
in fact, i will be more of myself.
i will be a brilliant feeler with massive swinging breasts that only nourish those who love me.
i will be an apocalyptic writer who believes i am shaping the future, in cahoots with my comrades.
i will be angry in public, and i will be a lover who leaves people feeling freer than before my kiss.
i will be mariah carey at 11:57 pm, Dec 31 2016. i am still a number 1 type person and i am still wearing a ballgown to the dispensary.
anyway, much ado about a bikini, i know.
but somehow this political moment is making it necessary for me to be in this bikini and make people grow to meet me.
self-love is a state:
i am 38, and this is a first in my adult life. my thighs dimple, my scars pock, my pits are grown, my belly is soft as fuck, and the bikini is red.
[Feature Image: Close-up shot of the chest, torso, belly, and hips of a person as they take a mirror selfie of themself wearing a red bikini.]