I’ve gained about 35lbs in the last year. Between getting COVID, reaching my correct estrogen dose after way over shooting the mark by 5x, and then spending a year quarantined inside with asthma and little physical exercise, it makes sense.

When I first stepped on a scale after a year, I was amused. I’d crossed the dreaded 200lb mark.

Leaving aside the absolute minefield of why and how culture has indoctrinated me (and us all) to have our atrocious standards of beauty and the “ideal” (and impossible) figure, let’s just assume that we all agree that we understand why I felt like this wasn’t where I wanted to be.

After my initial good natured amusement faded, I found myself a bit appalled. Suddenly I starting noticing how my body really felt. And sure enough, there’s a new little layer of fat everywhere! I mean…everywhere. And I became fascinated. It’s even on my elbow skin! Outer thigh? Check. Ankles? Check. Shoulder blades? Check.

And I started to ask myself, can I appreciate the beauty in this? Can I embrace the way my body is at this moment as it’s own miracle of human evolution?

Yesterday morning I had my first session of facial laser hair removal. My facial hair has been a huge contributor to my dysphoria since my transition, and I finally found a good dermatologist (who’s trans!).

And of course today, my face looks way worse. There’s redness and skin irritation. The remaining hairs looks like they’ve been fried by, you know, a giant laser.

So I’ve been asking myself in the mirror. Can I appreciate this new state of my body on its way to somewhere else? As I choose to exercise my right to self determine my appearance and presentation, can I see this as not me looking like a man “still”, but as a trans woman who just had laser yesterday? Because it’s actually fascinating. The little bumps and strange hair texture. My body will never do quite this again.

I don’t know if my weight will change or stay the same. That’s partly my choice, although the constraints of my genes, hormones, and lifestyle play a far greater influence.

But I can choose how I respond. How I appreciate the novelty. And when the novelty wears off. How I appreciate truth as what is.

Beauty standards are not standards. They are ideals, and shit ones at that. The standards are the way you are without changing anything. Right at this moment. Weird red marks and all.