When I was a teenager, there were plenty of times I hated my body: often, because of something someone else said or did. For example, I remember going with my mother to her doctor's appointment. That day, due to comfort and not wanting to draw attention to my big breasts, I was wearing some T-shirt. I had already been mocked by my peers and didn't want to call attention to myself. I was wearing jeans too. Nothing ratty, just a T-shirt and jeans. I had a pixie cut then, and the doctor wasn't paying attention and called me my mother's son before he looked again.

I remember shrugging.

My mother, however, proceeded to throw a fit. I was her DAUGHTER. From then on, I remember my parents threatening to not let me leave the house - even for school - without a fitted collared shirt. I remember not being upset about the misgendering. The doctor apologized for his mistake, but my mother blamed me for it. I was told that I looked sloppy, not pretty enough, and that I looked pregnant. Yet, in high school, where I already was getting food and erasers thrown at me in the cafeteria, I also didn't want a more fitted shirt because I would be blamed for "inviting" too much attention. I dressed in T-shirts to avoid sexual harassment. I was told I was too distracting and that I was a fat sack. I realized it didn't matter. The reasons might change from day to day, but somehow I would get blamed for existing. For having a body.

I Hated Myself

Compounding that, I was struggling with severe depression and anxiety. I developed exercise and eating issues that tied into my self image. I hated myself. I was alone. I hated my body; it had brought sexual assaults and harassment in the past. It had gotten me whispers in the grocery store about what I bought (or didn't buy). It had gotten me side-eye and stern notes in my medical record at doctors' offices when a nurse curtly notified me my body mass index numbers proclaimed obesity. It had even gotten me looks at church and within my family. I was told that if only I followed Jesus, I'd be thinner (because, obviously, I either didn't care about my health or the devil had gotten to me.) It had gotten me people in gym and pool locker rooms telling me nobody wanted to see my fat body in public. Never mind that body mass index has been proven to be a poor indicator of an individual's health. Never mind that my big breasts were not my fault, nor was the harassment I faced as a result. It all compounded. I felt unworthy of love because of my body. I hated my body and myself.

My body, in turn, hated me. I would try to overrule it, but only succeeded in making myself so sick or dizzy I couldn't get out of bed. It would force me to recuperate, and take longer to do so due to complications.

Sexism, rape culture, illness, fat shaming - they all compounded against me. Until, that is, I turned to kink.

How Kink Showed Me That I Am Enough

When I started regularly exploring kink, I was thankful that I managed to avoid people who saw me as a size queen fetish. In fact, I met Lex, my partner, first through shared interests. We could watch TV together, and talked for hours about folklore, mythology and history. Yes, we talked about body image also, and what we heard about ours from society. But with her, I was more than my flesh. I was a person, with a mind and soul. I deserved enjoyment in all those areas - body included. Lex helped me learn that love again, after I had buried the sense of accepting and listening to the body I was in for so long. I got so used to thinking that was normal, that I needed help to see what I needed to do.

As part of kink, I learned I had to pay attention to what my body was doing. If there was a pain in my neck or my sciatica was acting up, I had to tell my partner to be mindful of these things. I had to pay attention to my reactions and learn what my body was trying to tell me. Maybe I didn't need to be cut down immediately from rope ties, but I did need my partner to understand my body and what it could do at that moment.

This all sounds obvious, but to someone with so much body shame, it was liberating. In communicating about kink, I had to listen to my body. I had to realize that yes, maybe I had these chronic conditions and my brain had issues with processing certain chemicals (remember: if you can't make these chemicals yourself, store-bought is fine), but I could treat it better. I did not have to overrule it and conquer it with the notion that I was deserving of punishment and that my will just somehow was not strong enough.

I was enough, on my own.