DON’T LOOK, DON’T TOUCH
as a girl or woman, you are conditioned to dislike your body and always be critical of it. you’re not really allowed to love every bit of yourself. narcissism seems to be celebrated in this day and age, but it’s bred out of insecurity rather than self-love. there always has to be something about you that you want to change. you may be forgiven for liking some small part of you, as long as you do it apologetically: “well, i guess my arms are ok.”
i got my boobs at a really early age. by the age of twelve, they were pretty much fully developed. and although my mind and soul were still that of a child, my body could easily be mistaken for that of an eighteen-year-old woman. i hated it. naturally, i was the envy of many girls in my year. but i lived in constant anguish and dislike of my own body. i went from being carefree to self-conscious. i was permanently aware of my own figure and the effect it had on the people around. boys – and men – would constantly stare at my breasts. they would think nothing of making remarks in my presence. revolting sexual gestures in my direction. and i was supposed to, what? be flattered? proud? laugh it off? the savage change had left me open to comment and critique.
i just wished to be a child again. a flat-chested, hairless child. but there was no going back. i had become an object. a thing to be pointed at, to be rated and ranked against others. girls could be just as cruel, arguably worse. whether it was ridicule or desire i had to put up with, my place in the world had changed. my body had betrayed me and there was nothing i could do.
but as with all things, it got better. it was a joy entering senior school. suddenly i was surrounded by other girls with boobs and pubic hair. it didn’t seem like such a big deal. we were all in the same boat. i still endured the awful “catcalls” and disturbing gestures, but the humiliation could be shared. there was another person at my side to get angry with. someone to fight back with. or – more likely to be the case – someone to laugh hysterically with.