HOW BODY Modification ENDED THE War against MY BODY

By Haywood, Sharon | Herizons, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

HOW BODY Modification ENDED THE War against MY BODY


Haywood, Sharon, Herizons


You took out your ring?" my husband asked, eyebrows raised. He had never seen my belly button without a piercing.

I glided my thumb over the partially closed hole.

"It was time to come out," I said, smiling down at my naked navel.

The small scar where my navel ring used to be doesn't bother me. Instead, it reminds me of a decision I made years ago when I chose to be kinder to myself and subsequently was transformed because of it. Yes, I forced a hole through my body in an act of self-love.

After years of battling anorexia and bulimia, I needed to make peace with my belly, the part of my body I loathed the most. I needed to befriend the core of my physical self as a way of creating a bridge with my emotional self. Prettifying my navel seemed like an appropriate symbolic gesture, a peace offering to the part of me upon which I had inflicted the most pain.

Beyond my rotund toddler years, I grew into a lean and muscular frame, but by the age of 10 1 began to battle my body. I would slap my dense calves (composed of solid muscle) and watch in revulsion as they wiggled. My childhood best friend and I had regular body-hating sessions on my front lawn, where we would examine our respective "gigantic" thighs. But it was always my belly rolls - or what I perceived as rolls - that were the primary target of my disdain and disgust. It was the core of myself that I raged against.

As I entered puberty, extreme food restriction and excessive exercising took hold, causing my weight to plummet to about 20 pounds less than what was healthy for me. These actions also triggered a cessation of my periods. About a year later, when my body screamed starvation and I could no longer continue sustaining myself on carrots and lettuce, I gained over 50 pounds.

I detested myself even more. Looking in the mirror was torturous and would provoke anxiety and despair. I continually sucked in my stomach. It still frightens me that I didn't realize that there was not one single thing wrong with me.

Throughout my adolescence and into my early 20s, I experienced a few more cycles of extreme highs and lows in my weight. By age 26, 1 was deeply depressed. I had hit bottom. I sought help and was fortunate to find the right professionals to lead me out of the hell I was living.

I drew a lot during my eating disorder recovery. What I consider my most powerful sketch was a depiction of how I perceived my spirit at that point in time: a gray, shapeless, cartoon-like, two-dimensional flattened blob that allowed my beauty and power and gifts to escape through my navel in a kaleidoscope of vibrant, pulsing colours. Shordy after creating that image, I realized that I needed to connect with my body in a concrete way; I then began to think about piercing my navel.

Even though piercings and tattoos are no longer associated with the deviant periphery of society, some would argue that in piercing and tattooing my body, my primary motive was to harm myself. In 1999, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry classified tattooing and excessive piercing as self- injurious behaviours. A 2011 article in Psychology Today by Lawrence Rubin and Michael Brody reported, "tattooing and body piercing have been associated with dangerous and sometimes lethal risk-taking behaviour, eating disorders, self-loathing, substance abuse, depression and social alienation."

From what I've seen of the data, however, the associations are far from overwhelming. For example, a 2006 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research explored the body modification-masochism connection and concluded that tattooing and piercing were more about exploring one's self-identity than they were indicative of self-harming behaviours. Based on my own experience, I agree.

Even though I suffered through anorexia and bulimia (and made it out the other side), my choice to permanently accessorize my body wasn't about self-hatred or feeding a pathology - just the opposite. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

HOW BODY Modification ENDED THE War against MY BODY
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.