Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Defining Normal.

Today I am sad.

I saw a picture of me and I didn't think I was pretty.

I know this happens to tons of women all the time but normally I've been called photogenic. I've been excited about photographs of myself. I saw these two pictures taken at the Easter Vigil at my church and thought - I look like a boy.

One was from the back.

I was wearing a black athletic zipper hoodie with an Easter Bunny pin. I just don't look like a girl.

The problem is that I don't really want to grow my hair back. I think it looks better this way. When I look in the mirror, I can't imagine having long hair again, or even girlier short hair.

I feel hypocritical looking at a picture of myself and seeing what I see. I want girls and women everywhere to read this blog and come to an understanding that beauty is more than skin deep. Beauty is internal. That every woman exudes beauty simply because of her femaleness. But when I look at a picture of myself and don't see something feminine, it's hard.

I've got a relatively flat chest.

In middle school and early high school I had two nicknames, given by the boys in my class: "the board" and "miracle gro". The first because I was as flat as one. The second because I needed some.

The cruelty of those words, those years, has still never left me. I still look in the mirror and see something lacking. Part of being a woman is breasts. It's how we've been taught. It's how we've been programmed. This is why a mastectomy is a tragedy. This is why the girls with A cups are depressed on the Tyra Show.

I also feel that boys are programmed to believe this as well. That they are supposed to like big boobs. Supposed to associate breasts, especially large ones, with femaleness. We see them on posters, we see them on calendars, in pornography, on Victoria's Secret commercials playing during our regularly scheduled programs. We can't get away from the sexualized imagery that describes what a woman must look like in order to be acceptable, attractive, desirable, and lovely. It hurts me to see it. It hurts me to see high school girls in low cut tops with push up bras desperate for a boy to notice them. But not really them...to notice THEM, and then, maybe to give their face the occassional cursory glance up.

I'm tired of this objectification of women. I'm tired of objectification in general. It's not just women who suffer this.

The other day my husband was standing in the bathroom pinching at the skin around his abdomen and saying how it was hard for him to get abdominal muscles: to develop a six pack. Why do we value this? Because when we see an "attractive" man in the media, he has these things. It's "what women want". Why do we want it? Because back when we were tiny little girls someone told us that this was what beauty meant. That THIS was desirable in a man. He can beat the shit out of you as long as he has good abs.

Society is a blackened pit of despair.

When I was sixteen I was a lifeguard and counselor at a girl scout camp. Girl Scouting is a fantastic organization. I learned a lot and I think it's good for girls to have time with just girls.

I was counseling a group of fourth graders who were exploring the campsite and playing with frogs. Then one girl saw a mouse. The others ran with her to chase it. Eventually, the nine year old girls caught the mouse in their hands and came to us counselors to show us their prize.

My fellow leader said, "Aren't you afraid of mice?"

The girls laughed and said, "We just pretend we are when boys are around. We scream and stuff. They need to think we need them."

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