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May 20, 2019 | by  | in Features |
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Astral Rejection

“RUIN YOUR FUCKING SELF BEFORE

THEY DO. OTHERWISE THEY’LL

SCREW YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE A

NOBODY. THEY’LL KEEP YOU

ALIVE BUT YOU’LL HAVE TO

CRAWL AND SAY “THANK-YOU” FOR

EVERY BONE THEY THROW. YOU

MIGHT AS WELL STAY DRUNK OR

SHOOT JUNK AND BE A CRAZY

FUCKER. IF THE RICH GUYS WANT

TO PLAY WITH YOU, MAKE THEM

GET THEIR HANDS DIRTY. SEND

THEM AWAY GAGGING,

OR SOBBING IF THEY’RE SOFT-

HEARTED. YOU’LL BE LEFT ALONE

IF YOU’RE FRIGHTENING, AND

DEAD YOU’RE FREE!” YOU CAN

CHANGE THE RADIANT CHILD IN

YOU TO A REFLECTION OF THE

SHIT YOU WERE MEANT TO SERVE

-Jenny Holzer

 

“I used to rebel by destroying myself,but realized

that’s awfully convenient to the world.for some

of us our best revolt is self-preservation.”

-mitski

 

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

1 Corinthians 6:20

 

We occupy a strange place in the world today. Our bodies occupy a strange place in the world today.  We do and do not occupy the bodies that we were born into. When you look into the mirror—is that you looking back at you? Is it still the temple that you were born into? Or have you changed it—hung up posters and boiled the kettle to make it a home? Barbara Kruger tells you Your Body is a Battleground. John Mayer croons that Your Body is a Wonderland. Your! body! is! a! vehicle! screams every blaring gym billboard. But is your body yours?

 

To me, bad tattoos, radical haircuts, and unemployable piercings are the physical equivalent of having tea in the cupboard and fruit in the bowl. They bring belonging to a form. With the constant pressure put upon us to be thin, white, gender-conforming, and conventionally attractive, I find ugly to be a great escape. I always find myself feeling more comfortable in my body when I make decisions that go completely against social expectations set to us. “Ugly” decisions. “Regrettable” decisions. “Why-did-you-have-to-go-and-ruin-yourself-you-looked-so-good-before” decisions.

 

Sometimes when I leave for university, I’m aware that I’m dressing for everyone but myself. Wouldn’t want anyone to be attacked with the visual assault of a mismatching outfit—or, god forbid—a bad haircut and acne. But one day it hit me that not everyone worries about the state of their skin more than the questions they might need to answer when preparing for a job interview, and that realisation was huge. Despite being described often as a very confident person, it has always been ingrained in me that physical appearance is of utmost importance. It’s disorienting to imagine not having complete control of how people perceive me. For me, self-appreciation came in the form of self-destruction.

 

The one part of Coraline that didn’t scare me was this quote: “Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway.” Shaving my head for the first time made me initially feel very uncomfortable. More so than before, because by traditional patriarchal, Eurocentric beauty standards, I was not attractive—and it was my own fault too! I began to worry. Would I be too ugly for my partner of the time to want to be seen with me? Would I be cramping my friends’ style with my alien exterior? Would I be seen as less intelligent due to the “Britney moment” associations of such a haircut? I worried so much that I stopped worrying. Life began to feel a whole lot easier when I didn’t have to think about trying to be attractive because I knew that I couldn’t be.

 

This all sounds self-pitying, but believe me, it is anything but. Being intentionally “ugly” is freeing. It’s a decision that is for yourself and no one else. Some might hate this aspect of you, but who cares! It’s not their body. Allowing my body to be overgrown and wild allowed me time to work on aspects of myself that were not physical. It allowed me to realise who approached me for my body, and who approached me for my mind. It taught me to be less judgemental—knowing that people were probably seeing me as falsely as I was seeing them.

 

Since then, I’ve been on a bodily rampage. Piercings? Fifteen of them. Eyebrows? Shaved off both of them. Stick-poke tattoos? Eight of them (or zero, if you’re my mum reading this). And here’s the thing: Maybe all of these are meaningless actions. Maybe they are nothing more than a toe warily dipped in the pool of self-destruction… but also, why the hell not. Applying meaning and the idea of growth to the decisions made in the lows of your life isn’t ever a bad thing.

 

There’s still a small hole going straight through the bridge of my nose where a piercing once sat. My eyebrows are still struggling to return to their former 70’s bush glory. The Georgia O’Keeffe ^Ladder to the Moon^ stick-poke on my ankle has been lovingly renamed “Ladder to the D(ick)”, due to the fact that I can’t draw a realistic half-moon. My head remains cold this winter. But I’m not worrying so much about whether I’m looking socially acceptable. Or conventionally attractive. Or white-passing enough to be cast in a yoghurt commercial.

 

Andy Warhol once said that if he sees someone who thinks they are a beauty, he thinks they’re a beauty, too. He accepts people on the basis of their self-images, because their self-images have more to do with the way they think than their objective-images do. If they don’t care, he doesn’t. So that’s that. Ruin yourself if you want to. Preserve yourself if you want to. Whether you’re feeling like Jenny or feeling like Mitski, remember that your body is a temple. But it’s not just a temple—it’s ^your temple. Go wild with it.

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