Bruises, Stripes and Kisses

November 13th, 2009

I am a girl. (Shocking, I know.) What I mean is, I was raised in a world where body image is highly valued and hard to come by. Very few girls grow up loving their bodies. Very few women don’t have something they’d like to change about their appearance. So, for someone who struggles with body image, marks are a particularly interesting challenge.

For me, it has been a journey.

I’m a clumsy person, accident prone. I bruise easily and they don’t go away quickly. Thus I’ve always had a bruise or two, usually on my legs from tables, counters and chairs. But those are small and explainable, and generally hidden by pants.

In college, I discovered biting, and occasionally came home with Very large marks on my neck. I’d wear a scarf when “adults” were around (Parent’s Weekend, twice), but mostly I just giggled because it had been really fun getting the “hickey.”

Then I joined the local community.

There were rope suspensions that left tiger stripe bruises. The discovery of suspension was so wonderful to me that I treasured these marks, the represented the incredible experience I was having.

As I moved into heavier play, there came more bruising, bigger bruising, whip kisses. If I was going out in public where these bruises would be visible, I would ask my partners to not bruise me. I was ashamed of the marks. They seemed to me to show how “bad” I was. Show the world that I do “inappropriate” things.

But the longer I stayed active in the community, the more I came to truly understand there was nothing wrong with what I was doing. That it was part of me. That it was part of my being. That what I was doing was coming out of love and trust and joy. The bruises, like the rope marks, came to symbolize the relationships, the happiness, the fun and the pleasure.

There were also pictures and a photographer that teased that the bruises were marring his shots. This was the hardest part for me. He is a good friend and his words struck old chords in me. That I was doing something “bad” and “wrong” and I should be ashamed. With the help of my partners, I dragged myself back out of this hole. Now when he asks if he’ll ever get pictures of me without bruises, I just grin and tell him Nope. They are a part of me, part of who I am and what I do. Some girls get diamonds, I think my bruises are prettier.

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