Part of the reason it took me so long to realize I was ace is that I had a number of reasons for wanting to hide my body. It took me a long time to realize that beyond my fears about people seeing, I simply had no interest in physical intimacy of any kind, of sharing my body or exploring another’s.
I was not at all body-conscious as a kid. I was comfortable in my skin and I would play outside without a shirt on until my mother firmly told me I was getting too old to do that. I showed off my skinned knees and bruises proudly, I played sports and climbed trees, I rode my bike and I liked the way my body worked.
Then I hit puberty. Suddenly I was horribly aware of my body and horribly aware of all the things I didn’t like about it. I hated my chest and hated needing to wear a bra. I hated my hips and how my body had changed. I hated my loss of androgyny, even without really knowing the reason why.
I felt awkward and ungainly and I was sure everyone was staring. I hid those unwanted and unwelcome new curves and lumps under layers and baggy clothes.
I grew increasingly depressed about those changes; I thought about suicide and started to self-harm. And then I had another reason to hide my body: wounds and scars. I couldn’t imagine showing anyone what I had done to myself. I couldn’t imagine ever being naked with someone and letting them see.
I assumed that was the reason why dating and intimacy and sex, topics that were starting to come up more and more among my friends, were of no interest to me: because I couldn’t imagine revealing the secrets on my skin.
Slowly I started to realize there was more to my lack of interest. Very slowly. About a year before I came across the word asexuality, I wrote this in my journal:
Getting older and thinking things like who is ever going to want to date someone covered in scars. But don’t even know why I’m thinking that since I’m not interested in dating anyone. Which in itself is starting to bother me. It didn’t bother me in high school because I’d just think, I’m only 15/16/17, what do I need a boyfriend for? But now I’m almost 21. Adult-aged.
I’m no longer ashamed of my scars; I no longer mind people seeing them. I still don’t like the changes puberty brought to my body and I wonder sometimes what would happen if I had top surgery and started hormones and brought my body back towards the androgyny I used to have and wish I could have again. If I would have more interest in physical intimacy if my body looked the way I feel it should.
But there is still no internal desire behind those questions. It’s just idle curiosity. No matter what the outside looks like, inside I’m the same. Inside I’ll always be asexual.