How To Accept, Own and Love Your Sexualised Body
Growing up a woman and being sexualised as a girl: here's my story.
I never hated my body. I never really connected with it either. I've just always had a weird relationship with it for as long as I can remember. The concept of “body” changed when I entered puberty and became an abstract extension of my existence rather than an entity. Puberty totally alienated my body from my mind. I was one of the first girls in my class to develop breasts and grow pubes and my early bodily transformation led to a lot of unwanted attention. At 13, trucks were honking at me, I was sexually harassed for the first time and my breasts were titz faster than I learned how to properly spell. The male attention and sexual validation were a lot to process at that age, and as all of this happened 10 years ago, feminist education wasn’t as accessible online as it is today.
This led to a toxic slut-shaming and victim-blaming culture among me and my female peers that quickly became part of the identity we developed as girls. I don’t know if teens today can relate to the level of shame and blame we brought upon each other when I was 13, but we went HAM on each other. Like, we BROKE each other. We would legit sit and have degrading conversations about who was the biggest slut of us to each other's faces, as if social control was just internalized with tween magazines and listening to “I’m A Slave 4 You”.
And, speaking of that song, if you ever find yourself seeking validation from men or sexual partners, here's some advice: you don't need them. You don't need to be sexually validated to feel worthy or precious or beautiful, it's just something kid-titz have taught you. You are worthy in every way and your body and sexuality is not a power you have to translate into value. Anyway, BACK ON TRACK.
Puberty is uncontrollable and I just accepted that having a new body would be my new life – having kid-titz became an identity rather than being creative or smart or funny. Lol, because, like any of that actually matters when you’re a woman! Haha, please! No, sexual attention was the consequence of having a woman’s body. It was the attention I felt like I deserved and it was what I was being recognised for – my body had value worth more than any other quality I possessed. Yes, being a girl in a sexualized world 100 percent fucks you up.
Learning that my body was being recognized separately from the rest of "me" started influencing the way I treated myself. I was a conscious individual trapped inside the suddenly objectified vessel that was my body; a body I didn’t fully understand or love. It drove me to self destruct: I starved. I had sex. I drank alcohol. I smoked. It was like I had to check if my body was still there. In sixth grade, we all got a sewing machine course and sex ed taught me about moisturizer – I'M NOT KIDDING, THESE WERE THE PRIORITIES. They should've taught me martial arts – or given me a drivers license to kid-titz.
Ever wondered why so many young girls (especially) have eating disorders and self-destructive behavior? Well this is one thing I know: there are greasy, bald men out there designing hairless sex dolls with wasp waists and blowjob lips. Having a female body is an industry that greasy bald men have a monopoly on. When you develop titz you just hit a wall. It’s as simple as that. Woman= body. Body= Abstract. Get it? No? Not sure if I do either. Anyways, that's why we have fourth-wave feminists to fight for our right to own the sexualized body we grew up with and do whatever the fuck we want with it without being blamed and judged. More about that another time.
When I entered my twenties, I started working out –like crazy. Sometimes five days a week. Even on a Friday night you’d find me sprinting on a treadmill at the gym. Having always been super self-conscious about my body, working out was like pouring gasoline on a fire: a complete burnout. I started focusing on minor details and comparing any possible noticeable changes from work out to work out. Were my abs any more visible? Did my shoulders look firmer in this selfie? Make no mistake: I was 100 percent aware that working out was never about being healthy; it was about controlling my body. Sweat and exhaustion was only another way of connecting my mind with body. I didn't eat much either. All pure self-destruction. Maybe I wanted to punish body (yes, "BODY" as an indefinite noun because sometimes it felt like BODY was a separate part of ME) for having always been a catalyst for unwanted attention; maybe I wanted to feel worthy of the attention? Either way, I was obsessed with BODY. Obsessed with what BODY looked like, what BODY felt like, what BODY did and could do! Living in BODY had taken over.
The story might take a rather undramatic and sloppy turn now compared to the previous sections but, I quit working out when I moved abroad. Like, BAM. I just quit. Whatever, move on. Fuck the gym. It almost happened over night; I got busy and had new priorities. What led me to quit the gym is unimportant compared to the effect that not constantly manipulating BODY had on my life.
I had never been more chill about my looks than after I stopped trying to improve them. I had never been so confident about my body than after I stopped trying to control it. I stopped worrying about the length of my happy trail, the fullness of my lips, the marks of my abs and the size of my ass (never really figured out if I wanted it to be plump or petite though. Thanks MTV…) and my sex appeal wasn't forced. I didn’t look ANY different but I felt good-different.
Not constantly pursuing an improved version of myself led to knowing that I already was a perfect version of myself. NOT A DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE BECAUSE LADIES, GENTLEMEN AND PEOPLE, this is a rant about the unconditional self-love and pride and confidence that every person should feel towards their body, gender and sexuality – whatever that might be and look like. Like, seriously, the world is evil and haters are hating, but they can hate because they ain't got nothing on us. Western culture is built on oppressing structures that capitalize on the insecurities they fill us with throughout early adult life, so that and we can spend the rest of our time awake (and asleep if it's real bad) coping with the things we think we have to improve. I've had to battle with the trauma of being sexualized throughout my teens, and that trauma couldn't resolve itself until I stopped giving into the pressure that lay on my cursed kid-titz. I don't want it to sound like it's an easy task – it really is a task to get there. It's hard. Let me repeat myself: You don't need sexual or physical validation to feel worthy or precious or beautiful, it's just something kid-titz have taught you.
This article was supposed to be about loving your body, then it turned into explaining why I couldn’t love my body and then it ended up being about how I learned to love my body. To fully understand your pain you must carefully investigate who fired the shot and where in your life it hit you. Only when the wound is located can you start treating it.
Xoxo your new life guru, Sofie, breaking taboos since 1994. Follow the catastrophy I call my life on Instagram!
Top image via ww.thelocals.com