This Body, My Body

This Body, My Body

The form of a woman with an afro, head arched back, with the legs of an afro pick.
Soul Comb by Jason O’Brien.

This body, that I inherited from my mother and her mother’s mothers is almost, but not exactly complete. If I could be any kind of body, I would not physically alter or deface what my ancestors naturally passed down to me. I would keep my umber colored skin, my wooly hair, and full lips because these features that wrap around my body are more like emblems. Audre Lorde once wrote, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantsies for me and eaten alive.” You see, in my embodied utopia, I’m not only in control of defining this body, and unique qualities, but also unrestricted from society’s ascriptive classifications. In fact, in this ideal place, my body has the capacity to exist freely, think freely, move freely, and evolve as it so pleases.

My body is never preyed upon nor used against itself. If it moves out at night, you cannot whistle at it, or call it sexual gestures like sweetie and baby doll. Despite its petite stature, it stands confidently at just five feet tall, because I am not submissive and weak. I drape my body in fabrics that are loose, and in other situations I do not have to cover it up at all. My exposed curves, and bare skin, are not “objects” of a sexual gaze. My body commands dignity, not because it must, since we exist in a culture of non-sexualization and non-objectification of women. I’m not obligated to put my body in clothes that leave marks on my back, such as bras with straps. The skin on the back of my feet and my toes are undamaged from suffocating heels, and my thighs are unblemished from chaffing marks from the tightness of shorts and the like. My body is comfortable in this world because it does not have to go through the anxiety of fussing around with the details and complications of dressing for occasions like work or the store because it is free in both public and private spaces.

Since my body exists and expresses itself through my own gaze, it knows its true worth and value. It does not measure itself in relation to other bodies or idealized standards. As a matter of fact, in utopia heteronormative beliefs are nonexistent. People are not influenced to conform to certain definitions of perfection or beauty. Therefore, in its youth I am unashamed of the changes my body assumes and unmoved let acne pattern my small face. As a young adult, I don’t devote thousands of dollars to subjectify myself to unnecessary and painful sessions of waxing, shaving, and plucking of the surfaces or crevices of my body. Existing in an environment where bodies of women are not constantly being presented through an “ideal type” my teenage form does not distress into eating disorders to be thin, and its self-worth is never reflected in the size of its breasts.

In this place, my body embraces womanhood. Bodily functions such as menstruation or the flow of bodily fluids are never embarrassing, nor stigmatized. Since motherhood is not narrowly defined here, or considered a rite of passage for my body I proudly flaunt the stretch marks as a reflection of the power in my body to reproduce other bodies. Moreover, because breasts are not a sexualized commodity in this world, my mothering body is unapologetic for breasting feeding in public, because everyone respects its true biological importance. Gradually, as my body ages, I don’t have to negotiate for its deviations, since it is not diminished, weak and invulnerable. I am content with the sagging of my breasts and wrinkling of my skin especially among younger bodies.

In this utopia, I embody the evolution of my body and its manifold capabilities. Since normative hegemonic masculinity and femininity are nonexistent, my body and I are perpetually in a liberated state of being. It travels through different experiences and interacts with other free-willed bodies without social biases or regulations. I stated earlier that this body that I inherited from my mother is not yet complete, since it must first unlearn not to interpret itself from an outsider’s perspective but through its own.

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