For as long as I can remember I have mostly been seen for my body. My first memories were somewhere in between 6th-12th grade. Girlfriends would throw around comments such as, “ugh, you’re just so lucky, I hate you” and dude-friends would say something with either “ass” or “booty.” This was an every day ordeal for me. It didn’t matter what I wore, people were always feeling triggered and/or stimulated by my physical shell. At some point in high school, I began to hide my body. I wore sweatshirts around my waist (and got to deal with “grandma” comments from that point on), bras that kept my chest flat and contained, and loosely-fit shirts and dresses. When I received attention for my body moving forward, I eventually decided on a dialogue that made me reclaim my power which went something like this, “go fuck yourself.” If it was a dude, it was verbal, and if it was a chick, it was an internal thought. I also owned the identity of a “prude” because no way in hell was I letting a little horny boy touch this kingdom. I was shamed for having a dope body but I was also shamed for not letting men inside of it. High school is kind of like a bunch of toddlers running around in teenager bodies, projectile vomiting insecurities all over everyone else, based on their mommy-daddy-caretaker wounds.
That was an impressionable time for me and I carried that attitude for years to come. My first boyfriend, who I first explored intimacy with, was in college. I was a “late-bloomer.” I don’t remember many details of our intimate time together, but I remember trusting the fucking hell out of him, and that was pretty incredible. Towards the end of our relationship, I had “little” sex drive and for the first time began to hear, “are you not attracted to me or something?” That was something I would hear for the next ten years. So naturally, I assumed I wasn’t a sexual-being, perhaps I was broken, questioned my sexuality, and then decided to keep distance from intimacy for awhile.
Day after day, week after week, year after year, I continued to be seen for my body. At this point, I was now working in the fitness industry and that shit is kind of unavoidable. But I kept doing my thing: wearing loose tanks, avoiding bikinis, and dressing-down whenever possible. It sort of worked but people still found a way to objectify me. It was rare to meet anyone, and I mean anyone close to my age, that would acknowledge that I had depth of any kind. I was so bored of my day to day exchanges and I desperately wanted connection. I remember always wanting to shout, “just talk to me about something that is REAL!”
Shortly before becoming a mother in 2015, I decided to take dramatic action and practice self-love in a new way. I cut off all of my hair and stopped wearing make-up. This was dramatic, yes, but holy hell did it help me begin to connect with my internal self and start the self-love relationship I had been dying to create my entire existence.
Fast forward to present day, and I am still finding myself rewiring this dialogue, narrative, pattern. Though I am mostly surrounding myself with people who want depth and connection, I still am constantly seen for my body. A recent exchange that I care to share was after an ecstatic dance. For those that don’t know, ecstatic dance is a mostly-conscious community of movers, dancers, and self-expressionists. It is the most wonderful movement community I have been a part of thus far. However, a recent exchange left me feeling frustrated as fuck. A woman, who I had just started dancing with, trusting, and opening up to, objectified me. She walked over to me and I immediately asked, “who are youuuu?” as I pulled her in for a hug. We exchanged names. She then said, “so what do you do?” and naive me said, “in life? well, I am a mother, I like to –” and she abruptly cut me off and said, “no, no, like for movement. you are so athletic, your body is so strong.”
I stopped. I stared. I thought, “are you FUCKING kidding me?” Nope. She wasn’t kidding. That’s truly all she wanted to know about me. How my physical shell was strong and athletic. At this point, I’m feeling triggered and sassy and say, “oh well I was a gymnast growing up.” Boom. That was it. That is all she wanted, and I knew that is all she wanted, because I have had thousands of exchanges just like that one. Both men and women just want to hear a few words about how I “so easily” got this body, and then they are gone with the wind.
I was so disappointed. I was disappointed in this new female friend, who I assumed was living consciously, to be so shallow. I was disappointed that I answered her shallow question with the words she wanted to hear, just so she could validate her motives.
It has been so exhausting to be seen for a body, and nothing more, for so many years. My shoulders and ass have gotten so much attention my entire life, that I have basically become immune to it all. I shut myself down from receiving at an early age. I carried a narrative that was something like, “if I receive, I’ll probably offend someone, so it’s best I don’t receive at all, to keep others cozy.” But this is a problem. This is an imbalance. This is avoidance.
When I shifted my career from fitness to heart-based work (yoga, meditation, emotional-healing), I noticed a big shift in my life. I noticed that more than not, students were seeing me for my heart. They were feeling my energy. They were connecting with my words. They didn’t give a damn about my body.
A few days ago a student who takes my class regularly came up to me after and said, “you look so joyful. You look so happy. I feel it. This makes me so happy. I am so happy for you.” I received it. I just stood there and received it. I hugged her. She hugged me. It was the exchange of a fucking lifetime. The exchange I always knew existed within me; Within this universe. The connection and depth I had been longing for my entire childhood.
You know what I call these types of humans? Light in human form. The light within her, saw the light within me. This is the meaning of “namaste” should you never have known.
Today, I am rewriting this narrative, still. I am practicing hiding my body less. I am practicing receiving, in all forms, superficial or deep. I am reminding myself that my physical shell is for me, and others may like what they see, but it is ultimately mine. I move for me, not for anyone else. I please me, for me. I am in a committed relationship with me.
Some still only see me for my shoulders and ass and others see me for my heart and my soul. My new narrative goes like this: my body is an extension of my heart and my hearts main function is to love. I am falling in love with my home; My body.