Feminism | Posted by Joelle M on 03/13/2013

I Don’t Know How I Feel About My Body

beach season: when I really don't know how I feel about my body

I was getting ready for my birthday dinner. I was wearing my new favorite dress, with a sort of waffle-velvet thing going on, which was sleeveless and beautiful. As I put on my tiara (because, you know- I’m a princess), I noticed that between my arm and my dress, there was this sliver of flesh- some sideboob- that was absolutely disgusting.

When I thought this to myself, I was shocked. I generally love my body, because it can run, jump, feel pain, feel pleasure. It works for me, and our love is mutual. Most days, my body is my temple. I know that I am lovely. All 155 lbs. of it, size 6 or 8. My body is perfect. I am beautiful. I love my hair. Feminism has worked in my favor.

On the other hand, I have a really hard time being naked with anyone other than myself. Bathing suit season is literally the worst season of the year, and I live in CA, so I’m expected to have daisy dukes and a bikini on top. I hate my stomach, and there are pink stretch marks on top of my thighs that are not, by anyone’s definition, pretty.

What do I do about my body? Is there a problem with my thighs that needs to be fixed immediately with juice cleanses? Do I need to lose 10 lbs. before prom? I know I should love my bod, obviously, as feminists and Dove tell me to. I live in a world where Lena Dunham, regardless of her other faults, is naked & proud- and recognized on a national level. There are blogs and photo projects with photo after photo of labia, breast, stomach, skin. These are huge deals. Still, though, a woman going to the Oscars is there to be seen in her dress – the vast majority of them weren’t even nominated.

What do I do with my body? Without downplaying the struggles I’m sure many guys face regarding their shapes and sizes, the rules are there: boys can run, boys play football, boys shave, boys pump their fists up and down near their midsections with barely a second thought. And I can jump, skip, and hop just as well as the football boys at my school, but there’s no team for me to play in, really. Instead I do Zumba (which I LOVE. But, still. You know, comparisons). Masturbating is a right of passage to these boys, but I would feel dirty just looking at porn. I mean, maybe I do look at porn, but I would certainly never share it, talk about it, mention it. Self- pleasure for a teenage girl is still regarded as downright gross.

I don’t know how to feel about my body, but I’m going to try to love it. The next time I look in the mirror, I will force myself to love myself. I’ll go to the gym and lift weights and I will feel sufficiently uncomfortable because I’ll be the only female in the weight section, but I’ll do it anyway because I know I’m just as strong. And I guess I’ll take pleasure where it comes. Dealing with the waves of self-love and self-hate is just something that is part of life, really. My dad can’t claim that feminism, because it accomplished it’s goals of suffrage and rights in the workplace, is over because I still don’t have an exact answer: how do I feel about my body?

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  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 10:08 am, March 20th, 2013

    What a beautiful article. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I wish you all the luck in the world in getting to love your body. I’m also not quite there yet, but hopefully we all will be soon.

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