more than this shell ll bailey shares
I’ve been fighting with my body since always. I’ve felt a stranger to it, controlled by it, at war with it, betrayed by it, and at its mercy. This thing that was supposed to be my home, my space, did not feel like mine. It wasn’t how I saw me. And it wasn’t what I felt.
When I was in high school my therapist told me I had symptoms of body dysmorphia. She said I saw myself differently in the mirror from how I actually looked. I’ve always been naturally curvy and when I looked at myself in the mirror that was all I could see. Curves on curves. Dips and bumps that screamed femininity. All the media told me I was that I was supposed to love this. I was supposed to feel proud and sexy of this thing that felt completely foreign. I didn’t want it. I wanted to be a line. I wanted the absence of waves that shouted something I didn’t feel. I started smoking cigarettes to skip meals, I threw away my lunch when people weren’t looking and I took my breakfast on the go in the morning so I could discard it without anyone knowing. I started destroying what I didn’t want.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s and out as non-binary that my therapist would tell me my dysmorphia was perhaps more a case of gender dysphoria (the distress a person feels due to their birth-assigned sex and gender not matching their gender identity). This felt huge. It hadn’t been thinness I was after. It was androgyny. I wanted an escape from my curves – an escape from being seen as a girl.
Movement has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve always loved to dance and wiggle and move about. Moving freely felt like a certain kind of freedom in my body… Moving for me and no one else. I felt like I could reclaim something. I could take ownership of this exterior part of me even if it was just for a second. I could feel me inside of it. I could express myself through it. I needed a regular way to practice this. Then I found the be.come project.
the be.come project has allowed me to move in my body every day. I can’t express the security of being able to have a personal movement practice led by an ED recovered non-binary friend. No worries of triggering language and done in the safety of my own home. The more I’ve practiced, the more comfortable I’ve gotten. I’ve noticed myself body checking less. I could feel myself getting stronger. At this point in my life, I am by far in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in and I genuinely could not tell you how much I weigh because I’ve refused to step on a scale since starting this practice (something I couldn’t imagine accomplishing several years ago).
Since starting the be.come project, I’ve gotten very passionate about trans and queer representation and inclusion in fitness. I got my yoga certification and now work as an instructor in Philadelphia. I’m still working every day to see myself as more than this shell, but teaching others to find strength through movement is helping me to do the same. I’m learning to reclaim what never felt like mine. My body is not a girl body and it never has been. It’s my body. I’m here and I’m so much more than this exterior shit society has taught me to care so much about.
This body is mine.
And I am more.
So much more than this shell.