As a young woman, there are many standards placed on you. Beauty standards. Body standards. Behavior standards. In some ways, your body becomes a cage of expectations and responsibilities. Though I believe as a woman, we should be able to move through this existence as confidently, fluidly, effortlessly and beautifully as the goddesses we are created to be, conditioning has created friction and resistance.
Sunbathing and meditating on July 4th at City Park
I was 10 years old standing in line at a churches chicken, gas station combo the first time I remember being gazed at like the last prime rib at a fourth of July barbecue by somebody’s old drunk uncle who hadn’t eaten in 2 weeks. The desirous look in his glazed over eyes was so horrifying I ran out of the store almost in tears. I’m not sure if I was taught this, but inherently I assumed responsibility. I was guilty of being a little girl, with a body that developed way too soon and wearing pants that were too tight. I’m not sure when I accepted this ideology, but every inappropriate look, gesture, touch or action I’d internalized as partially or majority my fault. At some point I had settled, as long as I was able to escape a situation without any perceived bodily harm, then I was ok, right? I had been sexually assaulted by men in powerful positions and between worrying about how much of the incident I had brought on myself and how badly their wives and children would suffer if I had exposed them, kept me silent. And we’ve been able to see recently, men saying and doing inappropriate things seems to have become a normal and certainly socially acceptable occurrence.
Being young and sexy caused much anguish. Rumors seemed to appear from thin air, without any possibility of truth yet somehow everybody and they momma, daddy, sister, brother, cousin believed and repeated like they were more present in my body than I was. I was judged and treated very harshly. Men only noticing my body and never seeing my heart or all the many different amazing things I had to bring to the RIGHT partnership. Women, their jealousy and projected insecurities made connecting much harder than it had to be.
At 21, I’d lost 60 pounds and was a size 8. I felt more beautiful than ever. Men looked at me as if I was the most beautiful woman they’d seen. They’d actually look into my eyes and converse without the undertone of Dayum, I wonder what you look like naked. It wasn’t long before I started receiving criticism from women, “girl you look sick”.
I learned a love hate relationship with my body. As a young woman, you’re expected to be beautiful. The epitome of everything aesthetically pleasing. And with my mom’s added wisdom, “being beautiful isn’t enough, and beauty alone will get you nowhere.” I graciously accepted that the best part of me isn’t easily seen. I journeyed to become as close to perfection as I could, which at times fostered an unhealthy self critic, especially when your understanding of greatness is largely shaped by things outside of yourself. I needed to be beautiful, but not too beautiful. Sexy but not too sexy. Smart and independent but not so much that you’d overshadow your man or make him feel like you’re a competitor instead of a contributor.
I was taught, that if I wanted to be respected and taken seriously, I needed to cover every curve extensively and tight pants was synonymous with whore. I learned that according to others, being sexy meant I had a lot of sex, which up until now, has never been the case. In college I’d lose sleep worrying about being perceived as loose or easy, because I have always believed sex should be reserved as an expression of the highest love and I’ve always desired and strived to share that type of love with one person. But since, I’ve learned that I am who I am and I move how I want to. That no matter how much I try to hide my sensuality, it is. And if a man or woman feels that my sensuality is grounds for them to disrespect me, they can easily get told where their opinions can go. And any man I decide to give my heart should know, that it isn’t easily given and they are obviously one in a billion.
*I’m not advocating for anything other than authenticity and actualization of one’s self. The ultimate goal is to be authentic, and to be so, I must gain understanding of myself and why I choose the things I choose. I must decide to be unbothered by anyone’s reaction or response to my authenticity because my existence in whatever form will be offensive or bothersome to someone. And we must embrace the things that offend us, the things that cause a reaction, it is these things we most need to analyze in order to learn our attachment to them.
See we have at least three types of people:
One, who does any and everything in a desperate attempt to get the attention they feel they lack by any means necessary.
Two, who has decided to conform to whatever is majorily a socially acceptable means of attracting attention.
Three, who has examined both the psychology of one and two and has decided to learn what feels good, right and comfortable for self regardless if it is what majority people will accept and NOT for the purpose of calling to oneself, something that is already present within.