I am about to tackle a beast. This isn’t particular subject isn’t just about men vs. women, this is also women vs. women and woman vs. herself.
This is a lot of ground to cover and there is a lot of over. As women we have been put in a strange position, by ourselves and the media about our bodies and we’re at war on all fronts. It’s terrible, I don’t have any other word for it. So the best way I can think to put it is a commonly used term; objectified.
About four years ago know, I was working a desk job and I realized, I wasn’t healthy. I looked up what I was supposed to weight for my height, I was over. About 30 pounds over. I was upset with myself, so I signed up for a gym. I started going three times a week for an hour to an hour and half. I did some light weight training, some of the designed training they had blocks off. My favorite was the elliptical machine, I would try to do 3 miles on the treadmill if I could. I also did half an hour of yoga ever morning. I felt good. Funny thing was, I didn’t loose any weight. I did this for two years… I weighted the same. I had converted all my fat into muscle, but I was still technique over weight. It killed me. I did drop a pant size, and funny enough my boobs got bigger, but I was over weight. My BMI was healthy for my size though. It was confusing. That is when I came to the conclusion, fuck it, I feel good. Most of my life my family had given me passive aggressive jabs about how I didn’t work out enough, how I wasn’t health and I was overweight. When I was in high school I weighted way less, I walk about 8-12 miles every day, carried a 50 pound backpack and did an hour dance class 4 days a week. They still didn’t think I was working out enough. Seriously? I still want to glare at my family from the past. I could have gone down the road many of my friends did, the calorie counters, the girls I knew who had major body image issues. Even then those, I just wanted to comfortable in my own body. For the most part I have succeeded.
There is this part of me that looks at all of this and say the only way I can look at the issue of the female form is in a objectified manner because I have to be methodical about it and look at this issue from all sides, though it hard to not get emotional about it. There have been so many studies showing how women have been programmed from a young age by our mothers and other women in our lives to look at our bodies and hate them to some extent. Dove did a particular powerful piece about this. Whether it is intentional or not, why are we being programmed to hate your own body? It can’t be healthy. The whole thing only gets worse when you start to go through puberty and you start to feel like an alien inhabiting the wrong body.
I was the first one of my friends who got their period, it was awful, (nothing like this). My Mom was out of town and my Dad and Step-Mom had to deal with it. Even though I knew what a period was, I still remember the shock of going to the bathroom and seeing blood in my panties and the bowl. You never really think it’s going to happen to you until it does. I had had a rather shocking experience when I was 8 and my Mom didn’t flushed when she left the bathroom, I thought she was bleeding to death. So yes, when I turned 11 and I saw the blood, I still didn’t put two and two together. I just knew I was bleeding. My Step-Mom took me to the store, got me some pads, and bought me some fancy facial wash. It was awkward but I appropriate what she was trying to do for me. My Dad sailed through like a champ, he took me to my first OBG/YN appointment. He was open and talk to me about it. When at 13 they realized they needed to put me on birth control due to a hormonal imbalance, he saw me through this as well. I was very very lucky.
Then there is this shame aspect of puberty, it doesn’t make sense to me. Like in Nepal. Forced to sleep outside because you’re unclean? The hell kind of message is that? I was not made to feel a shamed in any way. I know in the some of the United States they have a class around middle school age when they teach the basics of what happens to your body it is no less terrifying and it’s not like your teachers can tell you what a beautiful and wonderful thing it is. Even if you does, you come to know sooner rather than later, it’s a load of bollocks.
Two of the biggest memories that still stand out to me about shame are two. They are both about girls I went to middle school with. The first one was a girl named Beth, we had PE together. We had to change out of our clothing and one day she told me she was on her period and did I have anything? Of course it was common knowledge that I had already gotten mine. People asked and when other girls wanted to know about the experience I didn’t feel discomfort talking about it. I didn’t see anything reason not to be open. Beth told me that she had lost her hymen when she was 10 because on hitting her pelvis and almost breaking in on a fence post. I still think that was weird. The second story, still hurts thinking about it. I didn’t know the girl, I knew she was larger, a little slow and rather unpopular. I was leaving the lunch room and this poor girl have a massive blood stain on the back of jeans skirt. I remember all these people pointing and laughing and I just remember standing there staring in a state of dread. I kept thinking, I should go up to her, I should tell her. I should give her one my of pads. She even had a small trail of blood. It was terrible. The school nurse same out and took her to her office. I felt so sick for the rest of the day, that could have happened to me. I could only image how that would scared her for the rest of her life. I didn’t know if it was her first, if she simply didn’t know or if she was somehow shamed of what happened.
The whole point of this story is that I don’t know if this girl ever got over it. If she ever got comfortable in her body. There is something so terrible about feeling like your own body is betraying you. Which brings us to the point of body image. There has been some major steps in the right direction lately, but it is going to take a lot of work to turn this all around.
It’s both sad and frustrating to watch how brain washing children about this idea of the “perfect body” at a young age, boys and girls. Ladies and gentlemen, yes, we have gotten to it, Barbie and Ken. I played with Barbies when I was younger, I did think, “I don’t look like that.” But I never thought I had to look like that either. I feel like it had gotten so much worse though with Brat Dolls and Monster High dolls. I though that Barbie was bad, but what the ever loving hell is that about? I really love what one mother’s solution to this absurdity was. Personally I think even the dolls removal of makeup speaks volumes as I think it does with women as well.
The implications behind makeup is unnerving. That we’re not beautiful enough without it. That we’re somehow broke and makeup covers it up. Why are be told we’re broken? I personally kind of hate make up. I do get a lot of compliments when I actually do wear it, but on a daily bases, that shit just does not fly for me. Not only is it the time or the fact that I rub my eyes all the time, but to me make up was always about making something a little more special. When I was 7 I had a babysitter who told me, “if it looks like you’re wearing make up, you’re doing it wrong.” I took that to hear, but then I really though, what is the point of makeup? Is it weird that it becomes an armor for some women? Yes that it weird to me. Is it even weird about those stories you hear where women do everything they possible can to never been seen without make up? Even stranger. Are you actually truly naked with make up on? Do people ever actually get to see the real you?
That is really what it boils down to isn’t it? Being you. Letting people love you for your flaws. All of them. Seeing then and accepting them.
This is where I loose some people; I think that is why some people go under the knife: They don’t feel like they’re loved or deserve love as they are. It sound bizarre to say, but I lost a friend to plastic surgery. That sounds dramatic and no, she is not actually dead. She is alive and walking around, (though I have heard a number of stories about being dieding under anesthesia for an elective surgery), but I don’t know her anymore. I always thought she was beautiful, she was a dancer – of the exotic variety – and she was sucked into the life style. A life style that told her that her beast weren’t right, her ass was too flat and her lips needed to be bigger. Why? She was gorgeous as was. I didn’t understand when she started talking to me about it. She said I couldn’t understand because I was a “pixie little goddess.” Yes I am short, yes I have curves, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t understand not feeling right or at home in my own body. That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt when at 12 my English teacher told me to suck in me belly. It doesn’t mean I don’t get angry when I see or hear other people shaming other women for their body type. I worked very hard to be comfortable where I am. I still have doubt about myself, I am not as invincible as people perceive me as, I took a lot of hits before I even build that shield. I guess she never got there, she had too many people teller her she was wrong. Wrong about your own body? It’s the only one you have! She was kind of right though, I couldn’t and can’t understand it.
I understand transgender more than I understand people who don’t feel good enough and destroy their own bodies to get where they think they need to be. Is it because be make these impossible expectations?
It’s all so hard to watch.
The whole point is, beautiful is malleable. To super cliche, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Have you ever had the moment when you’re known somebody for a while and you though they were okay looking and then one day you look at them and realize they’re absolutely stunning? It has happened to me a couple times in my life and it’s funny to think about. Nothing about that person has change, yet suddenly there is this shift. Maybe it’s just how to feel about that person has change or you see something in them that has always been there, but you are just now realizing.
Everybody has their own beauty. Sometimes it is harder to see it in ourselves or understand where others are coming from.