Self and Social Image Battle

I woke up this morning feeling quite anxious. I had to go for a blood test in a few hours, and I am extremely scared of the blood flow not stopping after the tests. To add to the misery, my period was late. And then in those anxious early hours between half asleep and half awake, I just tumbled into several thoughts involving blood (the blood I wanted to come, the blood I didn’t want to be drawn out, pregnancy, health, vaginas, body image, what is acceptable and such other stuff. A complete chaos of related, loosely related, and completely unrelated topics. When I was growing up, I would be constantly worried that what if my vagina was abnormally shaped. All the worry was unfounded, but in retrospect, we all constantly keep reevaluating ourselves against some ideal image that we may have been brainwashed into on some subconscious level. Where otherwise did the unfounded worry come from? I have always been very very conscious of even the slightest change in my body. So one fine day, when I looked at my vagina, I was in for a bit of a shock…because it looked nothing like my frame of reference: my own naked baby pictures. I had sort of assumed it would look the same forever. And whom do you ask this to? I was afraid I would hear some unwanted truth that my vagina indeed was strange, so I never asked. And watching porn is no help either, what with everything being photoshopped to look all tucked in and neat. Basically body of a woman with private parts of a little girl! It was much much much later that I got over this after I read a couple of academic articles about vaginas, and vaginal image anxiety. That did not happen with breasts though. Culturally, we seem more open to talking about breast growth. In fact, we are also brainwashed into believing that bigger the better. But better in what way? Does bigger mean fitter? Of course not. And if it doesn’t then better for whom? We clearly subconsciously think about it in terms of sexual appeal to the opposite sex even from an age when no man is even in sight.  Why? Because that has become the norm. Body image is such a tricky business, that you don’t see yourself for what you actually are (even physically), but how others see you. And that’s what causes that weird anxiety. This was what struck me (this and most other things in the video) as ridiculous in that stupid Vogue Empower (or shall we say “Vague” Empower) video. The script talks about choosing to be or not to be size zero. How did size zero even come into picture? It’s not our choice…it is the choice that is made for us by the beauty industry, and then we are brainwashed into believing that’s what we need to be to be beautiful and accepted. It’s sad that you have to even discuss about not wanting to be size zero like you’re making some important point. I noticed that I am even prone to feeling anxious about other physical health parameters in general. And again, that’s because on a sub-conscious level I am constantly reevaluating my general state of being with some ideals that I may not even be aware of. Like I mentioned, I am constantly worried that my blood takes longer to clot. I blame the one horrific incident I underwent a few years back. I donated blood in a blood camp at work, and then my blood just wouldn’t stop. Everybody panicked, I was taken to the hospital where I underwent a couple of tests, all of which came out normal. Apparently, the guy who inserted the needle in my arm didn’t do it right and punctured an artery or something he wasn’t supposed to while drawing blood. So there was internal tear. But from that point on, I am a mess every time I have a blood test. I keep observing other people and mentally calculating how many seconds it took for their blood to stop and then worrying myself crazy if I took a few seconds more. So technically, I wouldn’t be worried if others took longer too (even though not ideal), because then what’s defined as normal itself changes. I have realized that I am quite sensitive to that constant conflict between what you naturally are, and what you try to be in the society to reach that stage which is deemed as generally acceptable. Then be it in terms of how you look, how you talk, and more still how you think. I find it sad, that while I myself appreciate misfits everywhere, being a misfit in most situations myself isn’t always such a reassuring thought.

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5 comments

  1. How did size zero even come into being?! What a great question! I have never had a healthy body image because it is not what is conventionally considered attractive. Growing up, the environment around me too constantly reinforced that I was not trying hard enough to achieve it. Needless to say, it has not been fun.

    With time however, I stopped caring too much. I have discovered that once you hit a certain age, you just become comfortable with who you are. Now my worry about the lack of exercise is not how I look, but how little I do to stay healthy because I can’t stick to an exercise regime and am far more sedentary than I would like to be. Also, I go through phases when I don’t eat as healthy as I should which is not good news for me.

    About the video, I did not understand it one bit and only figured out its premise towards the end. Deepika’s hair was jealously distracting. Found Finding Fanny a big huge yawn and when I discovered this was Homi Adjania again, I simply did not care enough for a second look.

    Hope your tests went well and will be an all clear.

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    1. It has been the same journey for me. I have never been slim. Have always been on the chubbier side. Then when I met my husband when we were both 18…I went into batshit crazy mode. He was (still is) extremely thin and very very tall. And I am only 5ft tall So I had this complex that I would look strange next to him. So exercised like crazy, ate less than I needed to and lost a bunch of weight and also fitness. Now I work out pretty regularly, but not for looks anymore. Mostly to counter the effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. And the same about looks…and then you just don’t fit in. Especially when everyone at school is ever concerned about looking fair, and having soft skin…and your parents find your concern about the same dumb and unsuitable for your tender age when you really should be jumpign around and playing.

      I started thinking about the size zero thing after Kavita Krishnan wrote a post about that video. I found that video vague and idiotic. I had no problems as long as it was recognized as an ad for Vogue. But the moment it was being lauded as something about female choice, and emancipation and all…it got on my nerves. And that hair thing….seriously?! It WAS distracting. 😀 As were the random tears, and a completely random comparison with the universe. Seriously?! How delusional and arrogant have you got to be to compare yourself and call yourself universe. I really don’t buy those kind of writings. I find it to be feminism misconstrued.

      Oh the blood test is a regular thyroid profile. I have to take it quarterly. I just make a big thing about it because it just freaks me out.

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      1. I remember reading about the weight thing in comparison to your husband in one of your posts. You are brave if you do this quarterly. I cannot bring myself to take a blood test because they will prick me. I am okay with drawing blood with an injection, but not a pin prick 😦

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      2. Ha ha! This is my first quarter since I was put on thyroid medication. I am more scared of the injection. That’s the one they took it with. The prick hurts more I guess, but you can see how little blood it can draw.

        If you’re not scared of the injection thing, you’re cool. That’s what they need to use for most tests. The prick is only when a very small quantity in needed. Like 2-3 drops.

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