For my whole life, I have seen myself as a monster. That there is something deeply wrong with me at my core. I felt like some kind of frankenstein’s monster, something that was never meant to be. A lot of people think of themselves this way to an extent, but it does get poked and prodded at a lot when its also validated by interactions as a visibly gender nonconforming person, someone who can’t hide it even when trying very hard – the knowledge that people can see the monstrosity in you under whatever you try to cover it with has a lot of weight to it. You should see my drawings of myself, they’ve been the same since puberty. Monster body.
When I started to re-identify with womanhood and do some amount of healing from self hatred, or at least that self hatred was transforming, I reclaimed a lot of monster woman imagery. For those of you that have known me a few years, that will sound very obvious and familiar to you. Monster woman. Failed female. I have a horror blog called themonstrousfeminine. I love my wolfman-wolfwoman figurine, I love gorgons and huge fucking creatures and body horror. God, I love the warped and conceptually disfigured body! It makes living in my own larger than life. Someone spits on the ground at my feet and I think, yeah, yeah, that’s what happens to monsters when they walk amongst their neighbors in the sunlight and not the sewers! They’re afraid! I’m not afraid!
This past weekend, I went to a music festival with a thousand lesbians. I’ve never seen so many different ways to be a woman in one place. There are so many ways to live in these bodies. Its not the first time I’ve met women with features like mine who move through the world like I do, but it was the first time seeing so many, and so many seeing me, that there were too many to talk to. It was the first time seeing us everywhere I looked, it was the first time I saw us in the context of community.
When we are with each other, it makes it the most obvious and clear fact in the world: These women aren’t monsters. What has been done to them is monstrous, but they are not monsters. Monsters are imaginary, and we are real. They are larger than life, and we are alive. They are ugly and scary. I cannot imagine anyone who is less so. A recognition on a deep and visceral level: I see myself in these women and they saw themselves in me.
I don’t know how I will feel a week from now, when I’ve been around more people who do think I’m a monster (or have watched a couple of cool horror movies), but for now, I don’t agree with them. Some affirmations: I will not draw myself as a monster, I will not use monstrous language to conceptualize myself. There is nothing wrong with me and I was not born wrong. I would not say these things about the women who I recognize as being like me, and they would not say these things about me.
I can’t reclaim and revel in the hatred of myself and my body anymore, I can’t let the only way of relating positively to myself be thinking its actually cool to be pushed into the sewer. Not when I know in such a real, material way that women look like this and we can and are part of communities and can and do walk around in the sunlight with one another, basking in it like we deserve to be there. And we do.