Up until the eighth grade, I never knew how to like much less love my body, or that it was even possible to look into the mirror and not see a lanky, too skinny body, or a weirdly shaped nose.

In eighth grade, I started listening to punk rock music, which taught me not to worry about what others thought, and that I didn’t have to fit in. But even my favorite bands couldn’t teach me to love all of myself, even what I saw in the mirror.

But then I found feminism. And in the first feminist anthology I wrote, I read about all kinds of different women who love their bodies for what they are; fat, skinny, in-between, big boobs, no boobs, post-op, black, white, whatever. Then I started reading articles on my then-favorite feminist blog, and there I found this site, VulvaLoveLovely.

At first I felt weird about seeing all these vulva necklaces. And then, suddenly, I loved it. I loved that these women loved their bodies enough to send a stranger pictures of them and then wear them proudly. I loved that they were taking control of their bodies, putting them on display in a way that was beautiful and not sexual. And I loved that it was very in-your-face, and made people re-think their assumptions, which appealed to my punk side.

A few months after I found VLL, I decided it was time to take a truly punk leap and pierce my clitoral hood. My ears were all pierced up, and my nose, and I had four tattoos at the time, and I wanted my yoni to feel the rock, too. The day when I took my pants off in front of my piercer and got a barbell downstairs, too, was the day I truly fell in love with my body.

Ever since, I’ve been so much happier. With a healthy body image, I don’t feel shy taking my clothes off in front of new partners, or wearing bikinis on the beach or the pool. I modeled for my friend’s figure drawing class. I ripped up the page I’d taken out of Cosmo about how to lose my belly and decided I liked that, too. I never complain about my body anymore, and when my friends tell me I’m too skinny I just shrug instead of feeling uncomfortable. I’m very happy being me, the size I was meant to be. I’m very comfortable in the skin I’m in, and the only change I’d ever want to make is to add more tattoos.imagesh