Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Body Imaging

For a long time I had body issues. My concern about my hair was literally just the tip of the problem.

I didn't like to be nude or even show a glimpse of my naked form. This wasn't only in gym or a body cavity search (I'm making assumptions about the last part) but also in front of a girlfriend. This, obviously, presented more than its share of obstacles and frustrations from time to time.

It's not that I'm fat or too thin or sport some sort of scar or skin tissue irregularity. Surprisingly for an Italian I don't even have hair on my back. But I would think of myself without clothes and conclude, "No, this...this is a mistake. This is not what the people want to see." It's taken some hard but gratifying work for me to realize that I wasn't even looking at my body when I drew these conclusions. My body was my awkward focus point but not the origin. It was just prolonged, dispersed doubt in myself, covering and contaminating every part of me, leading me to want to hide in a myriad of ways. Like the hair concern, it was the result of a mental Mobius strip that I had put into motion a long, long time ago and had eventually given up ever finding its end.

It's hard to break such a circular mind fuck, no more so then when you've come to accept it as reality, not perception. It's hard, but it can be done. I know that because I'm doing that now, every day. It's a series of exercises, a retraining and re-strengthening of the subconscious muscles, but the results are showing. The shame is disappearing and the doubt can now be reasoned with, at first mechanically but soon naturally. When I look at myself I no longer see a walking flaw. Sure, maybe I could tone up those abs a bit, but such thinking is the result of wanting to improve, not denigrate.

I know such talk can be weird, especially coming from the guy who writes that happy, squeaky-clean strip Sally Forth. But as I've mentioned before, my being able to say it to someone means I now have the conviction of those thoughts, not simply a quiet wish they will come true.

I promise, I'll start talking about arcane 70's pop culture again real soon. And thank you for listening.

12 comments:

Greg Sanders said...

Glad to listen and to hear about your progress. I do think there are positive impacts on the strip as the characters develop. Perfect people aren't interesting, but imperfect people can learn, up their game, and make exciting new humorous mistakes.

2fs said...

These series of posts are unexpected - but interesting and emotionally sharp. It's fascinating the way people online can discuss personal aspects of their lives...and find (whether they know it or not) near-complete strangers caring about their progress and wellbeing.

And I think it's also useful for others to notice that the insecurities you describe manifestly have nothing to do with lack on your part: as far as the outside world can see, you're a very smart, funny, talented guy (who, in my iffy hetero judgment) is pretty good-looking as well. But what counts is what you see and think - at least, for you.

Anyway, I salute your courage in doing this publicly, and hope the (I assume largely) positive response is also helpful to you.

Leila Louise said...

Well, let's see the pictures already.

Dvandom said...

Society raises us to be ashamed of our bodies. The only difference added by a religious upbringing is that we know God is ashamed of our bodies too. :)

D.B. Echo said...

Ces, we're here for you, whenever you need us.

Jodi said...

These kinds of posts aren't weird, they are real. And awesome.

Bernie said...

I think you look just fine naked Ces. Wait... you just went out of frame. Can you lean back towards the window

Laura Holman said...

The only emotional issues I have ever solved/corrected/eased/healed were the ones I managed to talk about. It is an amazingly important part of the whole process. And it is a process that I have been going through for the last ten years. (fun with being diagnosed at 10)

Keep working at it, it's VERY worth it.

Ellie said...

Not only is this kind of post interesting, it can be very helpful and inspirational for other people who have the same sort of issues (hi).

Tony said...

I like the introspective posts, too. And I identify, completely – with the hair obsession and the body obsession. People can tell you you look good (and you do, Ces) but you have to believe it yourself, and that's not easy. Being aware of it is a good step, though.

Francesco Marciuliano said...

I want to thank everybody for their kind words and encouragement. I greatly appreciate you taking the time not only to read my posts but to leave such thoughtful comments. Thank you.

Gabacho said...

Hi. I'm a long time fan of Sally Forth and your writing and your humor. This post makes me even a deeper fan. Your humor shines through the strip. And like your humor, your seriousness here comes from a really positive place. I'm glad I read this.

Also, I am something of an authority of male attractiveness - I'm so gay I make Ted look butch - and you are one hot daddy.

Okay, I'm going to go make fun of Mary Worth now. But I'll be checking back.