Why Can’t I Be Ugly?

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Illustration by Fiorella Morzi

I look in the mirror, noting the curves of my hips, adoringly feeling the bulge of my tummy with my hands. My body intrigues me. I observe the meeting point of my thick thighs, letting them touch each other, flesh encountering flesh. I ponder what their conversation is about today as I eagerly bend myself toward my knees in hopes my ears will detect any details. I want to know about my body. The skin on my arms hangs defiantly, an inherited characteristic passed down from my mother, swaying to and fro, declaring boundless freedom. Using my fingers I press into my left cheek, rosy and round, and follow it until I reach my double chin. I don’t recognize its shape, but it belongs to me: my spirit beckons me to familiarize myself with these new forms, to engage in a radical self-love with my physical body, to redefine perfection. My body is bold. I trace the lines of cellulite on my legs and smile because I have come face-to-face with an honesty so unashamed, a mark so meaningful, a life so genuine. This makes me blush.

I look in the mirror, slowly guiding my hand through messy locks, untangling strands of hair, staring curiously at a chestnut mane that makes me want to roar like a lion. The ends of my hair fall onto my armpits and remind me of my beloved, not-so-secret treasures, patches of underarm wool grown with care. My decision to let them grow remains important to me. I want to know about my body so I like seeing what it can do. Challenging societal ideas of feminine beauty helps in the creation of an understanding of beauty that is all my own. I study the purple hue of my oval nipples and quirky droop of my olive-colored breasts. I stand in front of the mirror, naked and vulnerable, skimming my arms, legs, hair, cheeks, chin, chest, and stomach. I contemplate my imperfect shape. I feel beautiful precisely because I am uneven, saggy, marked, overweight, and complex. I embrace my body in all of its “ugliness” and celebrate its remarkable distinctiveness. I embrace my body because it does not lie: all of my truths are bound in its many miraculous intricacies and I, like you, have a story to tell.

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