Thursday, June 20, 2013

Body Shame.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately of blogs and articles, plus reading or listening to conversations about how women are taught to be ashamed: Of our bodies, of ourselves, of our right to take up space in this world, to be heard, to have a voice, to be noticed, hell, just to damn well BE.

And it's got me thinking about my body. I've done a lot of work on my self confidence, on my fitness, studying my eating and my emotions, a lot of ways to address the reasons why I am fat. Looking back over my archives I have touched on body shame, but only briefly.

Logically.
Clinically.
Angrily.

I haven't sat with how I felt about what was done to me.
About how I felt when it occurred.
I hadn't started to process how I feel now, about what happened then.
Not until today that is.
Nor had I truly realised all that I felt in the moment that it occurred.

I'm talking about the first time I remember feeling Body Shame.

After my car accident and the start of puberty I remember feeling confused by my new body.
I remember being angry that I had to act differently, have different rules for what I could or could not wear.
I remember wearing long tops because I was uncomfortable with my new body.
Angry that motion sickness plus an hourglass figure meant I couldn't be a gymnast anymore.
But I don't remember feeling ashamed of my body.
Not until other people showed me, at the age of 14 or 15, that I had something to be ashamed about.

I clearly remember being up north for a cousin's wedding.
I remember, mostly enjoying, catching up with relatives I hadn't seen in about five years.
I remember thinking how worldly those cousins seemed to my sexually innocent self.
I clearly remember my favourite Aunty defending me, from myself, when I called myself ugly.

I also clearly remembering one of the times a whole lot of us were playing in the swimming pool. (two slightly younger female cousins, one much younger female cousin, one older and one younger male cousin, two uncles, my dad, my brother, and me.)
We were all taking turns showing off by running along the grass and doing tricks into the pool.
Anything the boys could do, I could do just as well, sometimes even better. Tuck jumps, bombs, splits, twirls, somersaults. handstands into the pool and on the bottom of the pool etc.
My brother and I were definitely the best at underwater laps of the pool.


It was all fun and games until someone did a straddle jump.

I don't remember who it was, or even if there was more than one that did a straddle jump, but it was definitely one of the boys that did it first.
AH HA! Being more flexible, this was definitely one I could do better. So I clambered out of the pool and got myself ready for my run up down the grassy verge. And as I neared the pool to do it as well, all of a sudden all the older guys, even my dad, are yelling, "No, no no, Kada, Don't!"
I did it anyway. A perfect straddle jump, higher, longer and better than any I'd done before. Tell me I can't do something, would ya!

Now, my dad has always been a feminist. He's always advocated for his sisters while growing up, for women in sport, women in general; and ME in particular!
So, if he was, along with all the others, yelling no no no, then there was something wrong with me and my body that meant I couldn't do the same as the boys.

Years later as I matured I kind of got an inkling of what they were doing and why.
These days I'm fully aware of  how the leap can be construed as a sexualised position.
As an innocent girl simply having fun in the pool with her family, all I knew was that my body was wrong, somehow. And I internalised that thought so deep that it affected a lot of my life, my self esteem, my body image, and my relationships, without me having any knowledge of that fact whatsoever!

Now it's been unearthed and, holy FUCK, am I READY to DEAL with it!

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