“But we would be giving men what they want anyway”
This was my response to a friend’s declaration on how female nudity could be a force to bring about female empowerment.The whole conversation made me realise the power men have over us -the way we ought to dress-the cast our bodies should pass through.I have no intention of bashing anyone of the Adam’s Camp.
Starting with the dressing issue.Is it just women imagination that how we choose to dress earns us or denies us respect from men.Do men really care?
Whether we cover up our bodies with Sister Mary- floor sweeping- tent inspired dress or set the nipples on the road to freedom there will always be a voice of shame that creeps in.The message of modesty can be poured down upon us in two ways -out of love or out of fear.Love for the temple that God has beautifully and wonderfully built block by block and plastered with His love or the fear that we would lead to men sinning as they lust over some exposed part of our bodies.
Instilling modesty through fear places all the responsibility of sexual attraction on women.The role of men?Well ,they just react to the visual stimulation before them.We give them the biological pass which is quite insulting really because we are basically reducing men to the level of wild animals with no self control.
If you pass the dressing test we move on to this cast and we all have to come out having a banging body(whatever that means).There are these body standards which we need to meet.Lucky if you win the genetic lottery.Doomed if not.Well not really because the standards are always changing.Today the big butt is in.Tomorrow it is the lickkle butt.We try to keep up with what is in.
We chase after perfection.Sometimes in unloving ways.We deny ourselves nourishment.If I eat well I will lose this waist ratio.The only thing that is supposed to jiggle is my butt not my belly.Statistics on eating disorders show that cases have spiked up over the past few years whether this is because the desire to meet unrealistic standards is increasing or because people are coming out to seek help I can’t tell.But hopefully ,it is the latter.
Others who have the means are carved to perfection by cosmetic surgeons.We blow out of proportion what we feel men will pay attention too.
I honestly feel the pain of women who have decided to change what they believed was not “right ” with them. Imagine the amount of self-judgement they have put themselves through.The self hate.The obsessive self love.There is so much pressure for us women and I believe that every insecurity that any woman has can be traced to that one little comment by that one silly boy/girl in primary school.
We also as women can pass on our insecurities to other women.Not from an evil place but from a place of confusion -a place of not knowing that any body is a perfect body.For many years I have sang the “maintain the weight …maintain the weight” anthem so much that I am sure that I have unintentionally passed on this fear to any young woman who has lived around me long enough.
One of my intentions this year is to just really ease in to my body ,settle in and enjoy being in this body.There is this great line I heard from one of StylelikeU What’s underneath series:
Any body is a great place to be if you are listening to it and giving it what it needs
So whatever body you are in.Listen to it.Eat when you need to.Run when you feel like running.Dance when you feel like it.Sleep when you have to.Your body is way better than you think it is.Wear what you feels true to you.Anything that feels like a mask is not for you.Seek comfort before anything else because with comfort comes confidence.
To the man who comes across this -Cut down on those this is the perfect body and dress like this comments.Yes you can have your “type” but just go choose your type without making the women around you feel like they are not enough.Yes there is pressure on you too to meet certain standards and I hope that we all reach a point where we put down this baggage that we have handed each other to carry.
I hope that you don’t take my message as ‘Hey,go on and love your body’.That is a big task that will only be complete when you are in your old age.For now accept it and care for it ,it is the least you can do for a vessel carrying your horrible soul.
Illustrations by Juliana