The Curvature of Pain

During childhood I developed scoliosis. Playing the piano, my lower back hurt like hell. I danced and did gymnastics, but even there, the assymetry of my spine complicated everything.

At 14, there was a new orthopedist at our local hospital. When he looked at my bent backside, he immediately said that I needed to wear a brace until my growth was complete, probably until 15. I broke down in tears.

They took an X-ray while two male nurses were pulling at both my neck and feet to stretch me as long as possible. Then the brace, a tight shell made from white plastic, was tailor-made. The day it was fitted was a nightmare. At first, it simply hurt. I immediately saw that it completely obliterated the shape of my body. I had no breasts, no waist, no curve in my lower back and not a trace of an ass. I needed new clothes, wider, larger. Ugly.

Over time, the pressure of the hard plastic on my skin numbed it, especially at the hip bones. The numbness never disappeared completely. When I sat down in class, the plastic formed two sharp shapes sticking out right above my shoulder blades. I felt like a freak. I felt so ashamed. Ashamed of my shape, ashamed of my shame, betrayed by my own body. When someone inadvertently touched me, he hit on a hard surface.

The day the brace was removed I started wearing tight clothes. I felt a little bit prettier.

Almost 20 years later I was told I should have gotten physiotherapy to strengthen my back muscles, which had weakened during the two years. Even now, my back is bony and not very strong.

My back pain only got worse over the years. At 21 I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. I could barely turn around in bed or wash my hair without help. Life had become a painful burden, I was afraid of the future. My dysmorphia got even worse.

I think those are the main reasons I hate my body so much. That’s why I like being photographed naked. To see what I look like. I don’t believe the mirror. I don’t believe in compliments. The only thing I take seriously are comments made by complete strangers on the internet. Because they don’t know me, know only the image of me. People who call me a narcissist are just ignorant fucks.

My sinuous spine holds a dead bird

All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It’s all frightfully romantic

Juliet Hulme, ‘Heavenly Creatures’

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