WHY AM I SO UNCOMFORTABLE IN THE CLOTHES I AM COMFORTABLE IN?
Artwork by Kayla Hernandez (@western_nectar) This is an original piece for this blog and I'm honored to have it here!
Over the last four years the moments that I have been unaware of my body are rare. People sometimes tell me they think I am quite open and confident. I don't know if this is true. I feel like for a long time I've been hyper and unhealthily aware of my weight, my curves, and my undying love of crop tops.
If you don't already know, this is kinda my style:
1. I never wear bras, ever. This started when I was 16. I wore bralettes for awhile and then forego those as well. In my house currently I only have sports bras for yoga and sexy lingerie for, well, sexy time.
2. I maybe have one full length shirt. All my shirts are crop tops. I've kinda been this was since I was kid. I love them, I feel free in them, and they compliment my shapes.
3. All my jeans are mom jeans. Straight leg, boot cut? Maybe. Skinny jeans? Never. I like my pants big and my shirts small.
4. All my shoes are platform but I don't own a single pair of heels.
5. I have recently gotten more into mini skirts!
So this means on an average day I'm in mom jeans, platform sneakers, a small crop top and no bra.
I don't think this look is "sexual" but for some reason I often feel sexualized in it. Even more so if I wear a skirt. If I see a girl wearing something similar, I think she looks great, and normally I feel inspired to wear something like that with the same unapologetic confidence. And then I do, and I go out, and whether people look at me or not, I almost immediately become self-conscious and think "I must look too sexual."
Sometimes I'm so uncomfortable in my own body it's unbelievable; There's no denying harassment and society have played a major role in my own discomfort. We live in a world where women are blamed for their own assault because of their outfit, or even their underwear. And then there's the completely demeaning stares from men, the catcalls, the car honks, the whistles and the voice of my mother, "Why do you dress like that? Do you like when men stare?"
I feel like I have rarely been allowed to comfortably (and perhaps never been allowed to safely) exist in my own fucking body. Sometimes I try to come up with excuses for why my body is so sexualized. I think maybe it's because I can be seen as thin but also having hips and a butt? Because I look "Russian"? A comment I get more and more and don't know what to make of it? But then I think No, all bodies are, unfortunately, sexualized and fetishised all the time... So am I just sexualizing myself?
My style is definitely one that shows skin. I grew up in Orange County, California, by the beach. Besides my mother and the media constantly reminding me I was/am a sex object, I generally felt comfortable in my own skin - even it was showing.
I used to think Well, it's not my problem if men can't control themselves. And my mom would say, "Well it is your problem because you could have worn something else." And now I think, "It is my problem that men can't control themselves."
And it's absolutely so exhausting because the rest of the time I'm thinking, today I'm fat, yesterday I was thin, I like my waist but not my stomach, I'm bloated, I like my body, I hate my body, I'm enough, I'm so fucking ugly...
And then I think - what the hell would I be thinking about and discovering if I wasn't wasting time think about all this BULLSHIT? And then I look around on Instagram, and I see women getting this or that treatment, botox, lip injections, hair removal and I think I need, like really need, all these things and I'll never be enough and then mid-thought a man will drive by and whistle at me, and what does all this mean?
It's confusing to be a woman. There is probably a part of me that does want male approval because of the patriarchal society I grew up in (perhaps less now that I have a partner and am quite far down my feminist journey). But then there's a much bigger part of me that just wants to feel like a human and not a sexual object.
Because I am hyper aware of my body at most moments I can tell who is sexualizing me and who isn't. But of course, there's the possibility that no one actually gives a fuck and I am preemptively sexualizing myself. I was recently listening to The Sexually Liberated Woman podcast by Ev'yan Whitney featuring Rashida KhanBey where they discuss using erotic dance as a method of reclaiming and connecting to one's body. KhanBey goes on to say that sexiness is way more complex than your physical appearance and body size. She says -
"There's this internal sexy that is changeless. It's more about your vibration and your vibrancy and your joy and the way you're walking through the world. And that shines out over everything else." - Rashida KhanBey
And I love it for so many reasons but here are the first two:
1. You can't outwardly control if you're sexy or not - it's in your fucking spirit, not the length of your skirt.
2. Your physical appearance and adhering to a lame ass western ideal of attractiveness is not what makes you sexy, sexiness comes from within.
So essentially, this view takes the sexiness out of your hands and definitely out of your wardrobe. It's not your fault if you're sexy, so you might as well wear what you're comfortable in and forget about the rest. Nonetheless, sometimes I dream about living in some kind of small community full of women, surrounded by nature, trees, waterfalls, and dirt roads going nowhere. Everyone loves one another and is safe in their body. You can dress however you please, or not dress at all; It won't change how people view you, and you won't be judged.
I look back at my brief existence thus far and hate how a lot of my younger self who was mostly comfortable in her body was lost as I grew up. I hate how much time has been spent thinking about how my appearance is affecting others. And of course some days, some months are more self-conscious than others. So this is my new mantra, feel free to copy it and use it if you relate to my story:
I will no longer apologize for my body. It is absolutely not my fault if people stare at me. My sexiness and light radiate from within. I am undeniably enough, just as I am.
As always, thanks for reading<3
Photo by Kayla Hernandez (@western_nectar)