Star-Sprinkled Body

I close the fridge, shoving the huge pile of leftover pasta into the microwave and sit down with a glass of water. When you have to constantly put food on other peoples’ table to make money, you forget to eat yourself. My legs hurt from 9 hours of walking, standing and occasionally sprinting and the hour of cycling, my feet throb. The microwave beeps and five minutes later the dishwasher turns on. Upstairs, I undress to get in the shower, my reflection in the toothpaste spotted bathroom mirror follows my lead. I look at my outershell and light a cigarette.
Right now, I am five different shades of white: bleached paperwhite, white shirt after a few washes, eggshell, breadstick and well-done home made vanilla crumble cookie. The tan lines separating white from white tell the different phases of my summer behavior, how often I wear a shirt, bra, pants or slippers.
My cheeks are as cold as the bums on the marble statues in the Vatican. What classical beauty a rainy night can bring out.
My legs are long

and white like rice noodles before you boil them for 8 minutes and rinse them with cold water. My legs are hairy. It started as an experiment a few months ago, as a protest against the male gaze, I challenged myself to let my hair live up to its fullest potential. I’ve gotten attached to my furry jungle, so I kept it.
My skin never listens to me. It’s more sensitive to stress than I am. My face and body react in different ways but generally, there are 3 scenarios:

11)    I’m stressed and my face pimples and my body psoriases, which stresses me out and contributing to the worsening of the skin situation the outbreak.
22)    I’m stressed and get worried that I’ll be breaking out and those extra worries make me break out.
33)    I’m chill, but I break out, making me realize how stressed I actually am, about anything, our purpose, our meaning, how I decide to live my life, whether I’ll be homeless and unemployed in a month and whether people actually like me.

I’m covered in birthmarks. Spotted like the milky way. If you trace the ones on my left forearm, you’ll be able to reveal sign from the heavens: a retarded seal. Sorry. Mentally challenged. Since light therapy, I’ve gotten more, so maybe the seal has been consealed, lost in the white noise of the newcomers. Some of the new ones are evil and need to be cut out. How many scars make a pirate? And where should I send my resume to apply?
            If you follow the downwards arrow-shaped shadows of my ribs, you will arrive at my tummy. It has a little silver pendant in it. Papa Francesco will be looking straight at you. However, my belly used to be of a much more blasphemous faith. Barbarically observed, measured, pinched and squeezed. It could not be inverted enough. Hipbones had to stick out 1,5 cm over whatever bodypart is in between them. If not, the ritual would begin, and fasting would be my only pillar of worship. Luckily, these days I get more satisfaction out of fries and the pope.
I’ve always liked my hands. They are skeletal, see-through tools with conveniently chewed and chipped fingertips. The nails are always just that length where I burn the new skin, that is forming under the nail I so violently ripped off, when I do the dishes. On my right hand, there is an inexplicable black spot, which I always tell people is my first tattoo. I supposedly got it when someone stabbed me with a pen in primary school. In actuality, my mom told me a suspiciously similar story when I was a kid. So I must have adapted and implanted the story into my memory. Interesting how our mind tricks us, because the story of my battle scar is as defining as any other memory to me.
My face has been through a lot of transformation, which usually revolved around either minimizing or maximizing my facial expression. Either extravagantly applied full face or just eyebrows (blond people miss out on all that fun). My forehead is wrinkly, because my mom always had wrinkles, which made her like a wise turtle or owl to me. She would prefer owl. I felt like she’d fold her face and in its folds a solution to any problem would slowly develop, as in the end, after frowning, things usually got solved somehow.
I sat in front of the mirror for hours to train my forehead muscles, flexing all day. Before I knew it, I also had wisdom folds, but unfortunately, the wisdom did not come along with them. My problem-solving skills even went slightly backwards, other kids called me gorilla, as my face had become very flexible and extremely expressive.
My hair is red and dready. A while back, I decided that shampoo was a capitalist lie. The first few days, it was very difficult to live with the truth, as my hair looked like it had been used to clean out a deep frying pan. Then I just got used to it, and my volume was off the charts. Unfortunately, I became rather quite self-conscious when noticing the difference between its fabulous appearance in my eyes and its allegedly “moppy” appearance to others. Luckily, shampoo turns out to be an easier capitalist lie to accept than the systemic oppression of the working class.
I stand in front of the mirror and smile. Ears like pin cushions, obnoxious hair, chewed fingernails, irregularly tanned and slightly blemished. Stripped down to the cigarette.  
Portraits by Maud Fernhout