I’m not sure how to start this post. It is quite intimate and personal. Not only to me, but to, I believe, every woman ever. Perhaps men as well, possibly more and more so.
See, our society has trained us to hate our bodies. Trained us to live in constant striving to change our body’s shape, tan, size, colour, smell, hair, you name it, they’ve got it covered. Or like Lily Allen put in one of her lyrics “Everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner”.
For me it happened as early as in elementary school gym class, where we were supposed to stand in line, from the tallest to the smallest pupil. I was somewhere in the middle, more among the taller end. And I wasn’t happy. Sometimes I wanted to be taller, sometimes smaller. I was also wearing glasses. Not attractive fashionable ones, but thick plastic pair, which would rub my nose and would look geeky. Of course other kids made fun of me. Of course I didn’t like it. Then came my foot size, which was somehow small. While most of the girls would buy their shoes at ladies compartment, I was still kept among kids trainers. And I was miserable.
Then I started doing ballet. Every single thing about ballet, is about the dancer’s body as well. I was unhappy with my arches. Unhappy with the length of my legs. Unhappy about my thighs. My red cheeks. I wanted to have a pale face and really dark hair. I wanted to be skinny. Not thin, but skinny skinny. I saw my body as my enemy, because it would gradually grow into a woman and I wanted it to remain at 50kgs. I didn’t see the swan-like neck, my big eyes, slender shoulders and long arms or my body’s amazing stretchiness. All of these didn’t count, compared to the deficiencies my body had.
When I stopped dancing, I didn’t like that my breasts were not cup C, not even a cup B. I didn’t like how my vagina looked like. I didn’t even like the shape of my fingernails.
So often have I encountered feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment. And a deep desire to look like somebody else. Perhaps a movie star. Perhaps a model from a magazine. Perhaps a girl next door with fantastic hair and perfect life. I was not comfortable being naked, not even in front of my boyfriends. Or especially not in front of them.
So I would force my body to be, look and behave the way I believed would make me happy. It followed me. I could force it to be lower than 50 kgs while still a dancer. I could force it to work hard under poor nutrition. I could control its functions and could order when to get ill and when not. My body was not my partner. It was my slave. The only thing I had full control of, in the crazy world.
And the slave failed me.
No matter how hard I pushed it, I still didn’t like it. No matter what colour I dyed my hair or how much mascara I applied, it still wasn’t good enough. Every picture of my body or face I had a look at, was lacking something.
I think I have a natural or genetic inclination to addiction, be it good or bad. So I would get excited about something new and would joyfully embrace the new habit until I would master it. Be it a habit with good or bad consequences. So I started to smoke. Tried to smoke marihuana as well, but it didn’t do much for me, so I stopped. I think I could easily become an alcoholic, so I’m staying away from it (most of the time, khmmm). I would also get excited about gluten-free food. Or veganism. Or paleo. Or buying nice clothes. Shoes. Or bags, omg, bags. Hair accessories. Facial creams, lotions, scrubs, sprays, deodorants, serums. In order to be healthy, beautiful, attractive, young, I don’t know what. Bottom line, to be or become someone who I was currently not. Change was always somewhere on the horizon, visible, but out of reach. If I wanted to become healthier, I should buy and consume chia seeds and B12 supplements. If I wanted to remain looking young, I should start using facial creams and serums, because I am over 30. If I want to be ready to go to the beach, I should shave my legs and have my bikini line done. And get rid of cellulite of course, nobody wants to look at that, do they?
Carefully following and executing the demands of our society, I realised I was trained from my childhood on, to hate my body. To constantly look at its faults instead of pros and not dare to look at its beauty. To constantly try to improve it and make it something it is not.
Guess what dear ladies out there (and men are welcomed too): how about we train ourselves to love our bodies.
It will be a hard, but I guess a rewarding journey. I started flirting with the idea some time ago, but constantly failed, as the power of collective memory and obedience’s just too strong and my individual mental determination can’t compete there. But perhaps we could make a difference, if there were more of us. I am at the moment somewhere down Croatian coast at a nude camp with only one piece of clothes and sandals. I haven’t brought any make up, facial cream or hair accessory. I am not thinking about what or when to eat, or how much. I am far away from my business casual meetings, my high heels or my tweezers. My body is full of mosquito bites, my hair hasn’t seen a hairbrush in a week and my face is lacking moisturiser (so the media tells me and I believe it). My legs are hairy and my feet are cracked, because I’m running around barefoot all the time. But I am feeling wonderful. I’m enjoying my femininity, my strong legs which can swim very fast and very far, my round hips which give me extreme pleasure when I’m making love, my waist with the stomach capable to digest all the rubbish I have fed it, my chest which can hold breath so I can swim underwater, my long arms strong enough to do and carry all the things that come to my mind and fragile enough to remind me that I don’t have to be strong. My head, which contains my brain, my strongest weapon, my full lips, my eyebrows, ears, … all the body parts which, even though I have treated it so poorly in the past, still serve me so damn well.
So I am training myself to love the woman my body contains. This is a daring act. I am not fooling myself into believing that I will not struggle along the way. The entire beauty industry would die if more women trained themselves to take a different path. But I will at least give it a go.
So I am happy to start a training programme for us, who no longer want to obey the paradigm that we have to hate our bodies in order to fit within this society. Those of you who have asked for it, check your mailboxes, as I have answered it today. And if anyone out there would like to join and train into becoming more likeable to yourself, you are most welcome. Send me an email and let’s make our bodies our most loyal and equal partners, perhaps even friends, but definitely not slaves.
7 thoughts on “Were You Trained to Hate Your Body?”
Jaz bi rada castila svoje telo in ga imela rada. Ali mislis resno s programom?:)
hvala za tvoj interes in da – bomo imeli! Sem presenečena, saj sporočila kar prihajajo, tako da še nisem čisto odločena kako bomo zadeve izpeljali – ali z eno slovensko in eno angleško ali pa eno večjo angleško skupino. Imaš ideje?
Biba, I’m not going to join your class, which undoubtedly will be useful for those who will join it. I support your initiative. When I first entered a nudist camp so many years ago I stared at a severely handicapped boy with his twisted body on a bicycle, cheerfully enjoying his naked drive; I admired a really corpulent lady’s proud and elegant walking; I saw a huge man with built up body and minuscule penis. I saw naked people of all kinds, very few “to the measure”. As a regular visitor to a nudist camping, I’ve lost all my complexes and fears concerning my body. I am as I am, one among many imperfect bodies. Everybody is different, nobody cares how do you look; of course, we see each other’s bodies but we accept each other as we are. So, good luck! (Your photo is nice).
Thank you blaxz for your comment and sharing! Best of luck to you too!
Kako se najdem v tem zapisu, Biba! Vedno, ko se počutim čudno/nesamozavestno, se vprašam, kaj pa nekdo drug doživlja. No, zate res nikoli ne bi rekla, da si se kadarkoli srečala s takšnimi težavami, pa poglej zdaj. In ja, imaš prav, svoje telo moramo cenit.
Ko sem sedem let nazaj resno zbolela, med drugim pristala 2 dni v komi, se iz tega izvlekla, sem se začela zavedati veličine mojega telesa. Koma je bila obramba, saj so se možgani sklopili, da ne bi prišlo do večjih problemov. Mojim domačim so zdravniki rekli, da če se sama ne zbudim, bom morala svoje pridobljeno znanje do takrat (jesti, piti, hoditi, govoriti, brati…) na novo osvežiti ter se znova naučiti vsega. Verjemi za vse je bil to kar precej hud udarec. In glej, 2 dni kasneje sem se zbudila. Na svoj rojstni dan! In samo zato, ker sem imela v mislih: “NE SMEŠ zamuditi svojega rojstnega dne!” Hvala bogu, za moje telo, ki ga spoštujem, pa čeprav imam kakšen kilogram preveč, široke boke in močna stegna, sedaj vem, da mi je bilo vse to podarjeno z razlogom. Verjetno me bo še kdaj presenetilo in se spet pokazalo v vsej veličini.
Torej hvala, hvala za zapis, dal mi je spet misliti. 🙂 Uživaj, Ines
kako bogata izkušnja! In kakšen zaključek! Hvala za iskren in ganljiv zapis – srečanje s tabo bi bilo več kot navdihujoče.