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.