My Body Is More Than Sexy

My Body Is More Than Sexy

I was born this way; you decided my body was sexy.
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My body is more than sexy. My body is strong, supportive, life creating. My body is self sustaining. It's soft and warm, yet tough and relentless. It aids me to live and do all of the things I want to. It's fine if you think my body is sexy. But it doesn't stop there. My body had many purposes before society decided it was sexy and exploited it as if my body were theirs.

At work, I have to wear a one-piece. It would be inappropriate if I did not, although the kids are welcome to wear two pieces. Because showing my fully-developed chest and curvy hips would be too sexy. But I didn't sign up for my body parts to be symbols of sex. I was just born with them. My body's function at work is to swim and help kids swim -- not to be sexy. Why do the two seemingly always overlap? It's not my fault if you find my body sexy, and now I have to hide it because of that? This is not my camp's fault, but the overruling societal codes it must abide by. I can't wear a tank top on a 100-degree day, because my shoulders and skin are too suggestive. I've learned this since I was a little girl. My campers ask me why I can't wear a bikini like them. But one day, their bodies will be over-sexualized by society. And they won't be able to wear bikinis to the pool, or tank tops to school. They didn't decide for their bodies to be symbols of promiscuity -- you did.

Believe it or not, my breasts serve a greater purpose than for you to look at, talk about, scrutinize. They will nourish my future children, provide survival for my babies. My children will be sustained by the function of my breasts, the most biologically natural thing a body part could do. Yet you do not see them as sources of survival and motherhood: they are sexual. And now, because you decide that, I have to cover them up like they're a secret. We think this way because we raise our kids this way -- that skin is inappropriate, that our private parts are not private because we choose to protect and cherish them, but because their crude presence is sexual and distracting. The other day, a child came in wearing a Superman costume which left her thighs exposed, similar to bathing suit bottoms. Her creative and spirited costume became an opportunity for scrutiny when another child next to me innocently asked, "Is that appropriate?" This girl is 7 years old (if you really wanna get freaked out, she was born in 2009), her only intent wearing the costume is to pretend she's something else for the day. But the minute another child questions her outfit, it becomes sexualized. "Inappropriate" is a word we're misusing, and what we really mean by it is "too sexy" or "too at risk for being perceived as sexy." My beautiful mother, who is always concerned over her weight and appearance, wore a brand new orange suit to the beach last weekend. She came out to show my brother, sister and I to make sure it was OK. When she emerged, we all stared. The suit was a bright and summery orange, exposing the V of her freckled chest. Finally, I broke the silence. "You look great!" I exclaimed, and my brother and sister were soon to follow. Her face showed skepticism. "Are you sure it's not too sexy?" she asked us, looking down at her body. My 55-year-old mother, the woman whose body I have known better than my own for 19 years, was afraid to be "too sexy" or too suggestive. Her fear unfortunately was later confirmed on the beach, where a woman visibly mocked my mom to her own daughter sitting next to her. As soon as my mom lifted her shirt off, the woman nudged her daughter, gestured towards my mother and blatantly pointed to her own chest, urging her daughter to get a look. I can only imagine what she was saying to her daughter if she was this shameless to openly and visibly criticize my mom. I couldn't believe it. This woman was so obsessed with my mother's comfort regarding her own body, she had to draw attention to it and make it a point of conversation. As a survivor of breast cancer, my mom should love, cherish and embrace her breasts whichever way she feels comfortable. I felt the same pain for my mother than I did for the little girl in the superhero costume. Both just trying to live their lives in their bodies, and being mocked and questioned while doing so. 50 years apart in age, yet facing the same sexual shame from society. This woman discredited my mother as a survivor, as a mother, and without even realizing it. She objectified my mom's body for her own ridicule. As if my mother's breasts haven't carried the weight of three children, the weight of tumors and treatment and pokes and prods. Like my mother hasn't borne that weight. Because in that moment, my mother wan't a woman. She was just a beach-goer attracting attention with her own physicality -- naturally. But my mother's body is more than sexy.

We tell girls to strive for more, we encourage them to do more and achieve more things beyond their looks. Then when they do, we tear them apart for their weight, hair, outfit choices. I did not choose for my body to be sexy. I chose for it to be more than that. I did not choose to change my skirt in 6th grade, for the chance some young boy may find my curvy thighs distracting. I did not choose to have to change my top when it left my shoulders exposed and vulnerable. I did not choose for my body to be sexy -- you did. Society did. But you and I will combat this idea. By wearing what the fuck we want and not being unapologetic for it. By correcting those who minimize us to our body parts. By writing and reading articles like these. I hope every girl feels comfortable and confident about their bodies after reading this -- because they're yours. Girls need to know they aren't the ones being sexual and perverted by embracing their bodies and displaying them in the ways they want, but it's society who is the pervert. It's society who decides our breasts and hips stop at being sexy -- but we know they are much more. Be proud of your body, it's the only thing you'll ever truly own. And do not let any small-minded person dampen, undermine, or interfere with that ownership.

Cover Image Credit: weheartit.com

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 50

Language is a powerful tool.

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It's part 50--halfway to 100! I'm so glad to still be here writing! In this section, we will talk about Dr. Shikaki's findings on how Palestinians view the state of Israel.

25 years ago, 85% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution. 10 years ago, this number decreased to 70%. Dr. Shikaki believes this was due to an increase in the prominence of Islamism in Palestinian society during the second intifada; Islamists were opposed to the two-state solution. In the most recent survey, the December 2018 one, only 43% of Palestinians supported the two state solution.

In 2000, American President Bill Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Camp David Summit to come up with a solution to the conflict. It ended without an agreement, but in December of 2000, Clinton once again proposed a resolution: the Clinton Parameters.

The content of the Parameters basically allowed Israel to annex settlements while Palestine to take 94-96% of the West Bank, as well as Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. There were other guidelines regarding territory, refugees, security, and the end of the conflict. Essentially, the West Bank would have been split up by Israeli roads and settlements--which is kind of the reality today.

Both the Israeli government and Arafat accepted the terms with reservations, and Arafat wrote to Clinton a letter asking for clarifications on the terms. Clinton and Dennis Ross, an envoy of the Parameters, publicized that Arafat had refused to accept the terms; they painted Palestinians in a negative light, saying that Israel wanted to accept the peace negotiations but Palestine did not.

American Lawyer Robert Malley was at the Camp David Summit and oversaw parts of the Clinton Parameters. In 2001, he said that three myths had come out of the failure of both negotiations, and that these three myths were dangerous to any future peace processes if people kept believing in them.

These myths are as follows: "Camp David was an ideal test of Mr. Arafat's intentions," "Israel's offer met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations," and "The Palestinians made no concession of their own."

He said that these three statements were not true but very heavily publicized by America and Israel after the negotiations failed; rather, there is more nuance to each of these issues, and America and Israel have just as much responsibility in the failure of the Summit and Parameters as Palestine did. Malley wrote, "If peace is to be achieved, the parties cannot afford to tolerate the growing acceptance of these myths as reality."

Anyway, what does this have to do with Dr. Shikaki? He polled Palestinians not only on the their attitudes to the two-state solution, but the Clinton Parameters as well. 25 years ago, there was 60% support for the Clinton Parameters by Palestinians, but the June 2018 poll showed that the number had gone down to 37%.

The last ten years shows a significant decrease in public support for both the two-state solution and the Clinton Parameters, and it could be a result of disagreeing with specific parts of the proposals (such as how the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock or Jerusalem is delegated).

I did some further digging when I got home, and I found this data from the UN Division for Palestinian Rights website:

"A 25 December [2000] published poll found that 48% of the 501 Israelis questioned were opposed to the proposals; 57% would object to Palestinian control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound; 72% were against even a limited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. A 29 December published poll found that 56% of the Israelis would oppose a peace agreement reached on the basis of the Parameters."

This shows that though public media--especially Western media--may have painted the Palestinian government as the villain (and Israel and America as the "victims"), the proposals accepted by either government had varied support among its people.

The Israeli civilian population did not want to accept the Clinton Parameters because of the way certain things would be resolved; their reservations lie with the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque because the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in the world for Jews, would have been given to Palestine, while Jews would have control of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (which is the status quo).

In addition, there was a section in the Clinton Parameters that dealt with the right of return for Palestinians, where there would be a certain number of Palestinian refugees who settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while other Palestinians either would become citizens of their host countries, move to a third-party country, or settle back into the land that is Israel Proper (with permission from the Israeli government, of course); many Israelis did not support this.

That was the public opinion years ago. Today, there is even less support for these proposals. Dr. Shikaki outlined three issues as reasons for a decrease in support of compromise, which we will cover in the next section. Stay tuned!

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