Until I Love Myself GN 1

Till I Love Myself GN 1

Learning to love yourself can be hard. That is probably the understatement of the century, but I can’t think of a better phrase that sums up Until I Love Myself. This is a first-hand account of the manga author’s life during some of the most difficult moments of gender confusion they have gone through as an AFAB (assigned female at birth) person. It is a story filled with sexual harassment, gender dysmorphia, body dysmorphia, depression, deeply rooted misogyny, and sexual harassment—this book has it all, and then some! Don’t let the simple artwork and designs fool you—this is a book that will probably make you look out your window and wonder how humanity has lasted as long as it has. It’s a personal account delving into the experience of living in an ever-evolving society for better or worse.

As someone who has been on their journey of gender affirmation for the past year, I jumped at the opportunity to read this manga because I think one of the main things that hold people back is their inability to empathize with others. Pesuyama is baring their entire chest, and I will be honest—there were times it was difficult to read. This is not a story that you read casually or one that, I think, you read for entertainment. While there were minor bits of comedy scattered throughout the book, it’s primarily about somebody who, for most of their life, was probably never allowed to sit down and explore who they were or wanted to be, filled with self-doubt and constantly made to feel they were the ones at fault when they were the victims in almost every scenario. There were moments where the author’s state of mind and first-person accounts of situations became fragmented to the point where you could argue there is a little bit of an unreliable narrator here.

I don’t mean this in the sense that the events are unbelievable. Rather, the author themselves admit that they forget or repress certain things due to the intensity of the circumstances they faced. Pesuyama works as a manga assistant and is continually subjected to sexual harassment by their employer, who seems to seem to go out of their way to misgender and make them feel uncomfortable. Not only is it incredibly depressing and uncomfortable to be in such a situation, but it also hurt to read how the damage from experiencing it bled into other aspects of Pesuyama’s everyday life. When Pesuyama begins to lash out at their friends and family, you know they’re not being fair. But you also get it—every traumatic or difficult circumstance feeds into others and spreads. Living as somebody with that type of confusion is already difficult enough, but living in a world that almost seems to go out of its way to make that journey of self-discovery as difficult as humanly possible is just depressing.

These are all portrayed rather impressively despite the book’s simple art style. There were times I felt like I was reading the author’s sketches. I don’t know enough about Pesuyama to determine if this was just their actual style or a specific artistic choice. Either way, I think it was most effective as the rather rough and almost unpolished line work, combined with some of the crudeness of certain character designs, emphasized some of the uncomfortable aspects portrayed in the book. My favorite detail was how Pesuyama’s character model would go through these sorts of warped stylistic changes to reflect their state of mind. There were times when the book would get a bit busy with all of its scribbling, especially since this is a rather dialogue-heavy book. So Pesuyama tries to have their cake and eat it too by portraying something as messy while also frontloading a lot of dialogue within the same page. I can still tell that it served a purpose, however.

There were also times when it was literally and figuratively difficult to read some of this stuff. But I can only imagine what it was like to live through it. Things are a bit better now compared to how they were before. The book does make a small case for the progress in the rights of women, transgender, and non-binary people. However, it also highlights how difficult things were just a few years ago and how much more work still needs to be done. While there’s only so much you can understand from a person’s first-hand accounts versus actually experiencing those hardships yourself, it is a start. I am happy to have it as another puzzle piece in my life despite its heavy subject matter. I wish I could give this book to people that still don’t know what it means to live as someone like that in modern-day society. I highly recommend it, although I don’t know when I’ll revisit Until I Love Myself again. Just be sure you’re in the right headspace before taking on such a personal story because it deserves your full attention.


by MrAJCosplay, Jun 23rd, 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *