when you resent your body
if you are a woman, every day is a class on hating your body. every media product is about not seeing yourself – or seeing every where that you don’t fit. your worth is inherently attached to how much you weight, what kind of clothes you wear and how others approve your expression of your own gender. your personality is measured on your likeability (a.k.a. pleasing men and making them comfortable at all times) and you must also balance that with your fuckability (a.k.a. being elusive & sexy & charming but not so much so that the guy feels insecure to approach you).
i am no expert, just another queer woman living in a men’s world. also, i am white & middle class, so the odds are much more in my favor than trans women, women of color, etc. but i needed to write about this.
my experience of hating my body started when i was about 9 or 10 years old. a friend of my brother (4 years older than me) tried to kissed me when i didn’t want it. he locked me in a room with him and forced himself on me. his younger brother (2 years older than me) was watching & cheering through the window. i kicked him in the balls, grabbed the keys and got out of the room. shortly after, my mom and their mom arrived. i told my mom what happened. she said something in the line of “boys will be boys”. i felt betrayed & unsafe. i felt weirded out and guilty: what had i done to give him the wrong message? and why wasn’t i flattered that an older boy wanted to kiss me?
we accuse ourselves because that’s what we are taught to do: the victim blaming, the slut shaming, etc. i hated my body right there because of what it had provoked on someone else, although my body may be an object to some people, it needs context and consent. the consent wasn’t there and the context was of abuse. whatever it caused on someone else wasn’t my business because i wasn’t asking for it. without consent, nobody is ever asking for it.
later on, i hated my body because of periods:
first, because everybody in my family (yes that’s a thing) asked me or my mother whether i had my first period yet or not. it seemed something i just had to experience and i asked god: why it wasn’t happening? what’s wrong with me? nobody told me that there isn’t a right time. my mom tried to assure me, and perhaps i can forgive this on not knowing how to deal with it herself, but deep down i wasn’t feeling it – and i didn’t want it to happen either. it was yet another thing i couldn’t control about my body.
there was also this weird message i picked up on their tones that you are only a woman when that happens (have you noticed how the world makes you think there’s always something that makes you become a woman? your period, your sweet 15 or 16, losing your virginity, getting married, having kids, etc. – it’s always something external that happens to you. perhaps i should read more simone beauvoir).
& then my first period happened. i felt nothing different. i mean, of course hormones were everywhere and there were body changes that made me uncomfortable, but i still had that kid idea that the moment itself was something to cherish forever, like a dear diary moment that you start writing “it finally happened!”. not so (& honestly, thank god? i just mean that there was so much outside speculation that i was expecting a party or maybe an actual feeling besides pain, like redemption or a godly message). it was something like “this isn’t a big deal” mixed with “everyone makes this a big deal”.
after that, everything body related is a mess. adapting to periods were weird. i didn’t like the idea that people knew i was on my period – that thing you do where you hide your tampon in your backpack and gets embarrassed when you need to go to the bathroom at school. i felt weird at home when throwing used tampons away – would my brother or my father see it? i had to hide it well with extra toilet paper so that no one would even suspect!
blood is icky, vaginas are smelly, being on your period makes you irrational. be elusive, cover your tracks, maybe they won’t know. and if they do, it’s on you. the role of the woman is to disguise, to disappear, to please & to adapt. shave or wax or trim all your body hair, perhaps that will give you purity! maybe even acceptance by some that you occupy space in the world and your body functions & grows & expels things out of it.
another thing that affected me from a young age: i’ve never liked wearing bras. however, a respectful young woman [whatever that means] must do so or else nipples will be seen and chaos may happen. as in: someone else may have a body reaction to your body that you did not ask for or gave them consent. i am not stupid. i know that people have desires, i am just uncomfortable with the desire taking center stage and the justification of not controlling oneself as opposed to the fact that the body is just there, existing, outside of the context of desire. that must be respected.
the few times during high school that i didn’t wear a bra, i was always so self conscious about whether boys were looking at my breasts or not. during these situations, it’s always a losing game because you are taught that if they do look, it’s a compliment (even if you don’t want one and feel uncomfortable) and if they don’t look, there’s something wrong with you (why aren’t you capable of provoking such reactions?).
my body hating also includes seeing specific body parts (and sometimes all of them) as too chubby: my feet, my legs and my ass. i often imagine just chopping parts of skin off as if that will do the trick, like magic. there are, of course, the other just as crazy methods: dieting and not eating. i’ve tried both. i don’t think i am stubborn enough or dedicated enough to commit to eating only 2 eggs for lunch or just stop eating altogether (and of course even that is seen as a flaw).
for as long as i can remember, seeing pictures of my mom when she was 18 or 20 was the ideal body. although i inherited a bunch of stuff from her DNA (mainly her slow metabolic system), i wasn’t even close to what she looked like when i was 20. it hit me hard & i used to spend nights planning unattainable ways to lose 20 kilos.
even if the weight loss has always been the main goal in a way, like the pot of gold after the rainbow, there’s always other small ways to remind myself how i do not have the best body ever or even an adequate one, especially when it comes to my hair & my skin. there’s this crazy idea that if i did have all those things, then maybe i’d be happier, lovable, pleasant, etc. but i know that what i am looking for isn’t the changes itself, but rather a radical act of loving myself regardless.
i don’t think we talk about our bodies enough. i think there’s shame involved, judgement from other people but also ourselves. i don’t have a solution for resenting my body. i am trying everyday to just live with it and accept it, but i understand how hard that is. reading stuff that value & honor the body is giving me a new perspective. perhaps one day looking in the mirror won’t be so excruciating. and i think this being so difficult for me is what makes me so in love with other people’s bodies, in a sense of awe and admiration, however it’s presented. i dream with the day that i feel whole in my body.