Saturday, January 16, 2010

To Whom Do You Report?

When does your body become your own? For some women, they may never get to the point of claiming it. To whom do you report?
To your mother: "Go back upstairs and change those socks. You are not going to church in those. They don't match."
"But they're both white! What does it matter? Who cares if they match? Who'll be able to see them when I'm kneeling in church? They'll be under the pew."
"I care. I'll know."
To your sister: "Eww! You can not wear those white tights. Look at the size of your thighs in those!"
To your roommate: "Tuck that shirt in. I'm telling you, it looks like hell hanging out like that."
To your boyfriend: "Why do you shave under your arms? I like you better the natural way. Napoleon sent a message to Josephine: 'Arriving Saturday. Don't wash.' I'm saying, don't mess with your pheromones."
To your husband: "You got your hair cut again. Why did you do that? It's shorter than mine now. You know I like it long."
To your children: First, if you breastfeed, your chest is their territory. Even if you don't, your lap, your arms, your legs, are theirs to seek comfort from. And you cannot deny it to them. All day you are battered by their physical need for your body, and you crash into bed exhausted. Then, unexpectedly, that guy who gave you those kids to raise wants to do some more impregnating, or just wants to touch you, have you touch him, and you are all touched out. Ack! Back up! Maybe when they are all in school, you can help him out with that. Not now.
To your teenaged children: "Mom, that looks horrible! Tell me you kept the receipt!"
To your mother-in-law: "No, don't tuck it in. Why do you always wear such dark, drab colors? Do you want to look like a schoolmarm?" Yes, you do. You are a schoolmarm.

I was lucky. I solved the problem of the body rather early, I think. All these other people felt they could weigh in on my choices, on the aesthetic impact my body made on their surroundings, but I felt only surprise at their opinions, at their need to express them to me. I had my own feelings about how they dressed and how they looked, but I kept them to myself. I had a more live-and-let-live attitude to how they decorated my milieu.
I thought I looked fine. I didn't beat myself up about the parts of my body that were out of my control: the bones of my ankles, the size of my feet, my lack of cleavage, my childbearing hips.

To whom have you reported? What did they say?

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