This one makes me really nervous. Obviously this photo is intimate and sensual and I realize that’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea — especially not for folks who knew me in The Before Times™. I’ve been sort of tacitly dreading the day we’d get here because I feel like I’m at a real crossroads. For the last 30 years of my life I have hated this body with every fiber of who I am. It disgusted me to look at, let alone be trapped in. I spent 30 years living in that body and following unnatural and humiliating sets of rules because of it.
“Men” don’t show their bodies this way. “Men” aren’t sensual this way. I grew up with programming all around me that to look like this was an invitation to get my ass kicked. For all of my life I have covered my body almost entirely. T-shirts and jeans in 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 90%+ humidity. If I went swimming, the shorts were as long as they could possibly be — and I’d have kept a shirt on if having wet clothes on me wasn’t a trigger. Even though I’m transitioning, it’s hard to leave a lot of that programming behind.
And here’s the rub. I am starting to like this body. Since February 2019 I have tended to it. I have nurtured this body. I have shaped it through diet and medicine. There are some days that, for the most part, I feel at home in this body. There’s more I want to do to it. It’s a fixer-upper, but it feels like my fixer upper. And I will do more. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually make it through my checklist but I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to work through it.
I like how I look in this photo. I look at it and this body does not seem so alien to me. I see parts of me I want to improve. I see things that make me nervous. I see my Cleft Lip Smirk™. My hair’s a mess. This is not controlled. I usually carefully control everything about pictures of me from the framing to the color of the light. It’s raw and intimate. It blows my mind that there’s a photo of me that looks like this and I don’t want to throw up at the sight of it.
So here we are at this crossroads because summer is coming. It’s getting warm. And all of the clothing options that look comfortable and fun to me are things that would have gotten me beaten before for being revealing. I’m going to wear shorts and tanks this year. This year will be the first time I’ve gone to the beach since… gosh… 2008? I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve gone swimming since then. I bought different bikini tops and some bottoms this year.
It’s so odd to feel somehow so validated and good about this photograph and also terrified that it exists. It’s sort of a “jump off the bridge” moment for me because I knew this was coming, that summer and warm weather would get here. Autumn and Winter were easy because dressing femme meant cute accessories and layers and really not showing a lot of my body. Spring has stayed relatively cool up until now.
It’s scary. I think it’s ok for me to be scared. I’ve put a lot of work into this. I’ve put everything… I have literally staked my life on this. But I’m still excavating Evey Winters from decades of dysphoria, dysmorphia, suicidal ideation, depression, trauma, pain, suffering, and societal programming. I know for a fact there are people on my friends list who hate people like me. The world still hates people like, women like, me.
And somehow in the middle of being afraid I just want to celebrate this. Damnit, I’m proud of me. I have worked my ass off to get here. I want to be happy without feeling complicated or doubtful about it. But all the same this is progress and I am happy and vulnerable so… this is me I guess.
- Evey Winters, writer and activist, graduated cum laude from Davis & Elkins in 2013 with degrees in English, History and Political Science. She works full time in web and app development and advocates for LGBTQ rights, economic justice and the environment, and for everyone to live their best life. She is a Hufflepuff who loves Bloody Marys, hot sauce, and crisp autumn and winter mornings. You can read her writing at eveywinters.com