A Story Of Over-Sexualization
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Health and Wellness

A Story Of Over-Sexualization

Personal story of my own self-hate.

A Story Of Over-Sexualization

I look in the mirror. I am fully dressed. My hair is clean and combed. My makeup is done. I smile. “I am looking hot today!” I am. I am very well put together. I am clean. My blemishes are covered. I feel attractive. I feel confident. I sit on my bed and take out my phone. I take multiple selfies. I make sure the light is in my face, just to make sure there are no shadows of the pimples under my foundation. I post them to social media. I smile at all the positive feedback from friends and family. I love the attention. I love the positive attention.

I leave my apartment for the day. My confident mood changes to fear. People pass me on the street. These people have eyes. They have opinions. They might not see me the same as I see myself. They may think differently. They may think my hair is too short, or that my pants are too tight, or my makeup is too much. They may not state their opinions as they pass me but they could have them, nonetheless. I try to tell myself that it doesn’t matter what others think, only how I feel about myself. But it’s almost impossible to do that.

Middle School through High School students were told to dress by the “three ‘b’’s”. No breasts, no butts, no bellies. Now this could be easy for some. Some girls didn’t have very developed breasts so they could get away with wearing a tank top. Some girls didn’t have butt cracks that happened to peak out from the top of her jeans when she sat down. Some girls didn’t have super long torsos that would make their shirts too short for them almost 100% of the time, no matter what size.

Summer in New England is hot. People want to wear short sleeves, and sometimes even tank tops. Tank tops were permitted in my school. People would wear them. Guys would wear them, girls would wear them. For some girls, these tank tops caused no problem. They were still completely covered up. For other girls, there would be some cleavage. Two girls could be wearing the same exact tank top in their own sizes, but the girl with the larger chest would be ridiculed for her cleavage where the one with the smaller chest would not. This just doesn’t sound right, and it makes the one with the larger chest feel embarrassed. It would make me feel ashamed. Whether or not I woke up that morning thinking I looked fine.

Ever since middle school I have had a hard time staying at a healthy weight. Sometimes I would be overweight by 15 pounds, other times I would be at a healthy weight. I would bounce back and forth. But since middle school started, and since crushes started happening, and since dates started happening, what I realized was that a lot of the boys I was interested in where mostly all interested in one thing. I developed somewhat early so I am hoping my readers will understand what that one thing was. It didn’t really matter what my weight was or how thick my thighs were as long as I had meat where it counted I could get attention from boys. Not the type of attention I might have wanted but attention nonetheless.

Going into middle school I was a nervous wreck when it came to boys. I didn’t know how to talk to them, let alone date them. I could talk to them forever over instant message but when it came to in person - I froze up. I didn’t really date anyone till the end of 8th grade. I didn’t really kiss anyone until 8th grade either. Boys my age were awkward, also, so I had my work cut out for me.

When I say I didn’t kiss anyone until I was in 8th grade it is mostly true. I was kissed by someone when I was in 6th grade. It was a boy I liked. A very cute boy who could play the guitar really well. He was a dreamboat in 6th grade. One time we were hanging out in my basement after a school dance and he really wanted to kiss me and I really wanted to kiss him but I was nervous out of my mind. Finally, he did the deed after hours of talking it through and I fainted. Well, I think I fainted. I don’t remember much other than just falling backwards after and then coming to and laughing embarrassingly for a long time. Me and that boy never really worked out. I was much too nervous and innocent for him. At that age at least.

Fast forward two years to the middle of 8th grade. I’m 14 years old. Still haven’t really kissed anyone. I met a fairly attractive person in the teen section of the local library. He wasn’t awkward at all. He was very smooth. He was funny. He was flirty. He seemed to find a way to get everyone around him to laugh. He talked to me. I giggled back and blushed. He added me on Facebook. It turned out he was a senior in High School. I thought that was cool. A senior flirting with me? I felt like a girl in one of those ‘80’s teen comedies where all the girl wants is to be noticed by the High School boys and invited to their parties!

He messages me on facebook multiple times throughout the week. He tells me he thinks I’m really cute. He thinks we should hang out again. My heart races just at the thought. We set a date to meet at the local library on a day that it is closed. When the day comes I spend it with my best friend and she does my hair, my makeup and lends me some really nice clothes. I walk down to the library. It is snowing and I sit outside on a bench and wait. He pulls up a few minutes later and parks across from the library and walks over and sits next to me. Now I don’t remember verbatim what the conversation was so I’m going to make my best guess. He will be HSS (High School Senior), and I will be HPD (my initials).

HSS: Hey, how’s it going?

HPD: Good.

HSS: You look good.

HPD: Thanks.

HSS: Can I hold your hand?

HPD: Yeah. (Giggles nervously)

We just sat there for a moment holding hands.

HSS: Have you ever played “Can you survive the seven seas?”

HPD: No.

He then explains to me the game. One person puts their hand on the others knee and then slowly creeps it up until the other one feels uncomfortable. He asks me if I will play. I say yes or shrug or something that means “sure”. He puts his hand on my leg and slowly creeps it higher and higher towards my groin. He is looking at my face the entire time and sees that I am completely red and stops. He takes my hand and places it on his leg.

HSS: Your turn.

I think I moved up about an inch until I realized my hand was shaking and I pulled it back. I can’t recall any other conversation after this. Somehow he got me to turn and face him and we started kissing. I felt extremely uncomfortable. I did not like the feel. I did not like the taste. I did not like the sounds. I didn’t like anything. But I felt like if I said no or if I asked to stop I would be a failure. Of what, I don’t know. At some point in all the kissing he decided we were too out in the open. He took my hand and led me to a garden that was surrounded by a wall of bushes. He kissed me again. He pulled me into him. I felt suffocated. He puts his hands under my shirt and grabs at my chest. I stomach through for a few minutes and then he takes my hand and puts it on his groin and I pull back. I don’t recall what I said but I think i just shook my head and blushed. I just couldn’t. Luckily just then he got a call from a family member that needed to be picked up so he had to leave. He kissed me on the forehead and left. I don’t remember what I felt in that moment but I remember shaking and crying as I walked back up to my friends house.

In my mind he didn’t do much wrong. I never said no. I never said I wasn’t comfortable. I may have looked uncomfortable, but that didn’t have to mean I didn’t want to be taking part. So this wasn’t about consent. That isn’t why I wanted to write about it. But did I come away from that experience feeling taken advantage of? Yes. I was young. He was a tall, muscular, older boy/man. I walked away feeling cheap and stupid. He never asked me out on a date or took me to a movie or anything. He just met up with me outside of a library and introduced me to physical things I was not ready to experience. I later found out that he was dating someone his age when we met at the library that day, so that also stung.

This experience was the beginning of somewhat of a downfall for me. I fell into a cycle of meeting guys, thinking that they were interested in me for me and then finding out they really didn’t care all that much about me but more of what I had to “offer”. I would even circle back around to the same guys! They would lure me in with “Haley, I miss you! We need to hang!” and then I’d be right back where I was before. I lost a lot of faith in men. I lost a lot of faith in me. One of my high school relationships made me lose so much self worth I ended up in the hospital after a self harming incident.

Even when I was in healthy relationships I felt worthless. I felt like all I had to offer was my body. I felt like for some reason I didn’t really have the right to say no. I know that feeling like that is total bull shit. I know that I shouldn’t have felt that way, now. But it’s hard when everyone that shows any interest in you turns out to only really be sticking around for something that isn’t even part of what makes you who you are.

Now, the reason I wrote this was not for pity. It wasn’t supposed to be a sob story about my over-sexualized past. I wanted to be able to end the piece saying that even though I spent most of my adolescence hating my body that I had come out of it stronger. I had come out of it understanding that my body was mine and not someone else's. But honestly, I haven’t exactly gotten there yet. I do my best to wake up in the morning, and not automatically feel like shit about myself. I do my best to put on makeup and feel like it is indeed for myself and not for anyone else’s enjoyment. I try to tell myself that I put on a tight fitting dress dress because I believe it is okay to feel sexy and to celebrate my body and not just because if I’m going to go out I might as well be pleasing to look at.

I wish I could say that I was proud to be a woman. I wish I could say that I always enjoyed the body I was given. But it wouldn’t be completely true. I can say this: I am trying. Everyday I try to find something about myself that I can truly say is beautiful and is mine. Piece by piece I am trying to take back control of my body, because I know I can do better. I can feel better. This body is mine. I should love it. I might as well learn to not be ashamed of it.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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