Reflecting On Our Mirror

The body.

I was born on August 29th 2000, two weeks overdue. As the anticipation of me being the first born, dominated the minds of my loving mum and dad, I often wondered what was the first thought that blossomed into my parents minds when they first laid eyes on me?

One day, while we were driving along peacefully in silence, where the muffled sounds on the radio prevailed through the car, I questioned them on their recollection of my birth.

They told me how anxiety and excitement swamped through their veins as they held their vulnerable new world in their arms, cradling me.

I understood my mum and dad when they explained to me, that the second they held the fusion of half of one another in each others arms, the only concern they had was for me to be a healthy, whole and complete being.

That was all they ever wanted and all they ever needed when it came to their daughter.

Perfect, because I was healthy, whole, and complete 

 

So why do I, 16 years later, somehow think that I am just not enough?

 

Because, I along with the rest of the world, have been taught, perfection is no longer about health, wholesomeness, or completion.

It’s only about how we look in the mirror 

…And that mirror of ours will never give us the gratification that we crave.

 

Never.

 

I would stare. Unaware if I approved of the object before me.

Everyday I used to stand and investigate myself. It was almost as though I was a cell under a microscope, unable to move and subjected to a thorough analysis. I would show expressions of confusion, perhaps I was lost. Lost in my dark mindset of negative desires.

It wasn’t as simple or as insignificant as holding an occasional dislike towards a specific region.

It was (or so it felt like) eternal and consuming.

 

I would proceed to strip my body of its comforting fabrics. I remembered feeling a sense of closure, when I was engulfed in such baggy clothing. I felt safe and protected from my insecurities. Almost like they were suffocated, like they were momentarily invisible to myself…

As I began to unwrap my body from its shield of protection, I would feel an overpowering rush of vulnerability and exposure echoing inside me. I felt imprisoned by my appearance, it was similar to a life long sentence, trapped in a mentality that I was wrong.

I prepared myself.

I paid attention to my breathing, as I inhaled the clean air. I would then focus on the enjoyment I possessed when this occurred. My mind was empty and to my dismay, it was perhaps the only time I felt free of myself and those unsettling thoughts.

I exhaled.

Everyday I recalled feeling pain and misery in my breath. I no longer considered myself satisfied with the image I had to represent as.

Struggling, looking at myself through the eyes of a mirror, I would shrug my shoulders in despair. My day often ended with the sensation of my eyes being flooded and my warm tears caressing my ice cold cheek.

With a critical eye, I would work my way up from my head to my toes.

I began the journey.

The route of hatred.

I would describe the journey as turbulent. I was slow, watchful, never missed an opportunity to critique, to stop off to make comparisons, refuelling on resentment throughout. Selfishly picking away at my acclaimed flaws, as well as my self esteem.

I needed no judgement from others, for I was my own critique and the harshest. Compliments would wash over my head like the tide while my own judgement would seep into my brain and forever be ingrained.

 

 

I was that same human being that was born into the world 16 years ago. The same girl that was held in my parents arms, where I was welcomed into an abundance of love, where I knew I was perfection because I was simply healthy whole and complete.

So what has changed?

Why is there suddenly an unanimous acceptance around hating ourselves, almost as though the events I write to you above are normal?

When did it become a trend to only look for flaws?

When did it become a trend to only see yourself as just that?

A flaw

Sadly I know, I am not alone. I know that the reflection of my words speak to countless of people today.

Everyday of my life I struggle with my body. I struggle to love myself, because over these 16 years of my life I have trained myself to look in the mirror seeking out imperfections and only that. There is no quick fix in learning to be okay with what you see in a mirror, some of us will never get there, at least it feels like that.

But I tell you now, we have to try. 

I speak to everyone who looks in the mirror and is nothing but saddened by what is staring back, when I say I am tired of watching the population of our world hate themselves. We all want the same thing; to be happy with ourselves. We convince ourselves the foundation of our happiness comes from our appearance. Maybe we are growing into a world where that is the case, but even if we are, we need to learn to be kind to ourselves.

Self acceptance does not require a physical change in weight or height, believe me when I say, I know this. Because for a long while I believed when I changed physically I would change mentally. Take it from a girl who did lose weight, along with herself in the process.

It means mental growth.

It means understanding that you are the only one in control of how you see yourself.

And when a day comes when you allow yourself to see yourself as the perfection your parents saw when they first laid eyes on you,

You will finally understand that perfection doesn’t revolve around a mirror

It revolves on what you allow yourself to believe.

 

 

 

Ellen Sheehan

 

 

My body, your oppression, our society

I woke up at 6:30am.

I had and always will be the girl, who thrives off the idea of beauty. Who loves the idealism behind makeup and fashion. Of course as little girls we have always been taught ‘the pursuit of perfection, is a contraction, we, as human beings are imperfect’.  Yet show me a magazine that hasn’t thought me to “love myself”on page 3 thanks to a celebrities cellulite, and “change myself” on page 5  thanks to a new diet and fitness plan followed by that same celebrity.

I am not here to write about the problematics of modern day beauty culture. Because frankly, we will never like ourselves with the help of 100 pages, a glossy cover, and photoshop.

I am writing about what happened to me, what has happened to you, and what will happen to at least 1000 girls all over Ireland today.

 

‘Today I am going to feel perfect”

 

I started with my eyebrows, followed with concealer. Foundation followed with contour. Eyeshadow, followed with lipstick.

I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, I looked great. Yes I am allowed (and so are you) to think you look great. But never more than great, though, you don’t want to give off the idea you  actually love yourself or anything? (what a crazy, arrogant, and deluded thought, thinking of yourself so highly?)

Next, came the clothes. I didn’t want to just look great. I wanted to look more than great.

I found my tartan A line skirt, and a pair of black opaque tights. I sat on my bed and gradually folded my tights up past my calves, over my thighs and eventually to my waist. Followed by my skirt, struggling past my hips, and gliding past, my slim waist.

I ran around my room, half naked, with my skirt and tights. Until I came across a bag, untouched, in the corner of my room.

I knew I was going to wear it. It was cream, sparkled when the light flickered, and tight.

And it was a V neck.

Or so what you mistook, as an open invitation to gawk at my chest.

I put it on and fixed it accordingly. I looked in the mirror. I looked sexy. I looked attractive. I looked amazing.

But one thing I definitely looked like, was asking for it.

Sadly, you know what I mean when I say “it”. In our world, I am now looking, asking and begging to be, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and/or raped.

But, that day,  all I truly was looking for, was just to feel perfect.

And I did. Until you.

I got out of my car, and  began making my way out of the car park, and put on my black blazer, trying to hide the enemy. My chest.

At first, I grabbed the attention of you. I was walking down the stairs and I caught you staring. At first I shrugged it off and pretended I didn’t notice.

Second came you, I was walking on the path with the wind blowing in my face, and through the constant chatter and atmosphere of Dublin city, you still found the time to openly stare at my chest. I fail to remember you even looking at my face. Thats because you didn’t see me you saw breasts. 

I wrapped my blazer, fully around my bust. Because it wasn’t enough to close it with a button. I felt that I had to close my self off, to the world incase “I gave off the wrong idea”

I went for something to eat in a cafe. When I  got asked if  I wanted to take off my blazer because of the heat of the cafe, I said I was freezing.

wasn’t freezing. I was embarrassed.

When I finally couldn’t deal with the heat, I took it off. And for a moment no one was around and I didn’t care. I was talking, laughing and momentarily forgetting about the consequences for trying to feel perfect. It felt nice, to not feel objectified.

When I left the cafe, while carrying the blazer in my hand, I stepped into the shopping centre, where the eyes of men and women failed to reach my face but only the recognition of my body. I returned my blazer to the former position and tried to go about my day in peace.

This time, I was looking, asking and begging not to be sexualised.

I was made to feel like I should hate my body. But I didn’t and I don’t. What is ironic about breasts, ass and anything associated with femininity, is that society idolises them, praises them and glorifies them. But the second you stomach the confidence to be that little bit sexy, you’re looking, asking and begging to be, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and/or raped.

But I wasn’t asking for it. And neither was she.

Right now I feel enraged and empowered. Enraged, because you and society stole my sense of inner perfection and confidence. Empowered because I have attempted to show my objection towards you and societies sexualisation of my body.

I am 16 years old, and yesterday I experienced what countless females experience on a daily basis all over the world.

And if  I was truly asking for this to happen, if I was truly asking to be gawked at by your oppression, then if this happened to your daughter, why would you blame that man on the street and not her?

Because I am that girl, I am somebodies daughter, and you were that man.

 

Forgive me, if I am being critical, but I imagine the burning question of this piece is,

 

‘But how tight/low/revealing was the top though?’

 

The answer? Not enough to be made feel like I was looking, asking and begging to be, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and/or raped.

 

 

Ellen Sheehan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am 16

I am 16.

And for those of you who wonder, it is true. I haven’t lived. At least not enough.

To begin with, I haven’t started this blog for an intended purpose, in fact, I am yet to understand, why I, myself, have started this blog.

The scariest thing about words, is that they dictate a human being. No matter what, we are defined, majority of the time by what we say. Or in the case, write.

The hardest things to write about are usually, the things worth talking about, and ironically, more often than not people don’t want hear it. What’s even more ironic, – they’ll listen anyway.

You’re right. I am 16, and it’s true I haven’t lived enough. But I am living. And my words are going to be expressed.

 

This is my first blog post.