In the Throes of Overcoming Body Shame
When my brother was 3 or 4, he jumped on my dad and caused an already damaged appendix to break. This is by no fault of my brother and would have happened eventually, he just speed up the process. This lead to a trip to the hospital a few days later to visit him. As a new teenager, my body was blossoming the way teenagers and girls do. We develop the bodies of women. It is a confusing process, but added to that confusion is the stress others put on us, when during that visit my dad saw someone notice me. I had worn my favorite pair of white capri jeans. They were the right shade of white, with a gold zipper up the bum, and the perfect fit. The zipper never stayed up and so I had clipped it into place with a safety pin. Maybe it had come free, but most likely not, either way I was ushered into a chair and told to stay for the rest of the visit. I wasn't allowed out of the car during our shopping in town and once we came home, my freedom to choose what I wore was taken away, especially if leaving the property. Fast forward a couple of summers to when I'm 16 and dads friend moves in for the summer. Someone that none of us girls was comfortable with, but our opinions don't matter. He watches us creepily from the stairs of the house, as we jump on the trampoline. I'm having a blast with my siblings, doing all the things I normally do, when I'm yelled at from the house to come in. I'm dragged down the stairs, stripped of my tank top, which is ripped to shreds and thrown in the garbage. I am no longer allowed tank tops. I am shamed for his actions. I am shamed when my parents are the ones who allowed a pedophile into the house.
Modesty culture teaches women that it is their fault men can't control themselves. Modesty culture teaches women to hide what we are naturally born with. American society teaches that women shouldn't have hair on our armpits, legs or bikini lines, when these are normal things and show that a person is maturing from a child to an adult, they should not bring shame. There is so much damage done to our mental health when taught this. Not just girls mental health, but boys are negatively affected by this as well. They are taught they can't control, that they are lustful filled creatures, and yes sometimes that is true, but not always. And instead of teaching control and happiness we shame on both sides. Ruining what has the potential to be powerful things for both to us.
Modesty is not an easy topic for me. Sharing these photos is not easier for me. Change needs to happen, we need a shift in mentality.