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Archive for the ‘On the Body’ Category

Body language is something we haven’t really talk about during class, (more…)

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Trigger warning: cancer, illness, hospice mention, food mention, weight mention

When you lose a parent as a young kid, you have a lot of questions. “Did daddy like ___?” “Would he like this band or that band or this food or this ____?” I often wonder now if it was hard for my mom to constantly get these questions from me that I only asked because I was insatiably curious and I knew remarkably little about who my dad was personally. A lot of what I remember about my dad (and about my childhood in general) comes in images and in imagined scenarios of how I believe things would have gone. I don’t have many truly genuine memories of my father, but the ones I do have I treasure and actively make sure I never forget. One thing I know for sure about my dad was that he was stick thin. I remember him crossing his bony legs in the morning in his bathrobe as he read the newspaper and drank his coffee. My mom told me that his legs were so bony that he had to sleep with a pillow between them; my aunt even bought him a catfish body pillow (my dad loved to fish, so it was a perfect gift) to put between his legs. It looked like a catfish. Seriously.

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Most people think of appearance as a way of caring how much control has over your mind, your body and your life. Even though that many believed in the quote that says “it matters how you perform, not how you look”, in real life, that is not necessary true. Others do perceive you, and even how they think about you. Technically, I think that sometimes people really should not dress how they feel, but how they want to feel. Clothing is sometime that in creating the positive impressions, it can increase your perceived status among other people. The way you choose to dress sending messages to those other folks around you, but also to yourself. Caring how you dress will make you a more responsible, involved, approachable and confident. You really don’t want to dress up silly to embarrass yourself, nor troublesome others.

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Contains mentions of blood, and substance abuse disorders

       My legs are, without a doubt, one of my best features. I cherish them. After a history of negative body image, it is important to me to have a part of my body I like. But for the majority of the month of September, I have been hiding them. Despite hating the cold weather and feeling a great sadness that the summer is coming to an end, I have been glad to have an excuse to break out the fleece-lined tights and jeans early. I cannot begin to entertain the idea of being seen with my legs bare anymore, because since the beginning of the month, my calves and thighs have become a torn canvas of irritated skin and dried blood.

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It’s the end of term and I’m doing a lot of reflection essays and papers and responses.

So I’m going to use this time to take a break from doing formal reflections and I’m going to informally look back on the body and the assignment and put my thought stream into a post (thought streams are actually really interesting, when you think about it). It’s going to be disjointed and fairly random, but that’s my mind for you.

Fair warning.

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So after reading a bit of Exile and Pride, I thought it interesting that Eli Clare considered his body as what was home to him.  To me, home had always been anything BUT my body.  For instance, the roof I live under is considered home to me, the neighborhood I live in is considered home to me, being surrounded by my family and their mannerisms and so on.   When looking at what my body is to me, it’s just simply that . . . my body.  I look at it as a piece of property owned by me.

Then Clare starts putting labels on his body, such as queer and disabled, which describes who he is and how it describes his body as home.  In relation to my own body, I’ve never considered even putting labels on it because the idea never occurred to me.  Don’t get me wrong, my body is very special to me, because it was given to me specially when I was born into this world, but I just can’t come to the point of naming it home, and putting labels on it.  That seems kind of abnormal to me.  Instead, on an ending note, I’d like to also look at my body simply as a miraculous piece of work that serves as a protection for my soul, which is in charge of my inner thoughts, actions, etc., contained inside.

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So this year, I partook in my first ever No Shave November. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s a month long event in which participants forgo shaving their body hair. I am not sure of the event’s origins, but have heard of several different reasons behind it, one of them being to raise cancer awareness. However, I think it has come to be understood as more of a personal challenge for people to undertake.

It is much more commonplace for men to partake in No Shave November, but the event is not exclusive to men. Still, it has generally come to be viewed as an exclusively male event as men are largely the only participants to document their experience on social media. This could be due to the fact that for men, No Shave November usually means growing out facial hair, and it is much less shocking for a man to share a photo or story of growing out his facial hair than it is for a woman to share a photo or story of growing out her armpit or leg hair. I think the stigma surrounding female body hair has helped perpetuate the idea of No Shave November as an exclusively male event.

No-Shave-November

Darn tootin’!
Courtesy of sassyecards.com

I had never thought of partaking before this year. In fact, my participation this year sort of happened by accident.  (more…)

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disability-320trans

 

 

It is always the same scenario.  Someone who is either blind, struggling to guide their way throughout the bus with their walking stick tapping the ground in a rhythmic motion, or someone who cannot walk, as the bus driver has to take the extra minutes to load that individual in a wheelchair into the front of the vehicle.   While all this is happening, I usually look away uncomfortably.  But the question is why?  I’ve decided to answer with that I feel guilty.  But why should I feel guilty?  I haven’t contributed to what society calls their “disability”.  But somehow I feel somewhat responsible for the way the blind can never see the beautiful scenery during a hike, or the deaf may never be able to hear the wonderful melodies embedded in music.  Maybe it’s the fact that I enjoy these pleasures, that it is tearing me inside.  Sometimes I wish it was me . . . . that I was blind, deaf, lame, dumb and so on.  I feel that then the guilt would disappear because I would be stripped of the “pleasures” society says that I have.

But are the disabled really suffering? Is that a legitimate cause for me to feel guilty?  The strange thing is, I only feel this way towards disabled individuals that are strangers to me.  I know at least one person very well that is disabled.  And I wouldn’t even call her “disabled” because she is so driven and strong.  She doesn’t seem to experience any limitations and boldly reaches for the same opportunities that I or any other “normal” person would want.  Because of that, I feel no sense of guilt around her, she greatly inspires me.  Maybe if I stopped to look at the “disability” of others and feel sorry and crappy about it, as society has so often told us to do, I would see greatness and not sympathy.

To be honest, I never dared to express my thoughts on my guilt toward disabled people.  To me, I thought it was inappropriate to do so.  But now letting all my thoughts out here in this post for the first time, I’ve realized that it is society that is causing my guilt, not the disabled.  The disabled are not telling me to feel sorry for them, society is; the disabled are not telling me to look away, society is; the disabled are not telling me they are not enjoying life, society is.  And looking back on it, the way society is downgrading the disabled is really shattering.

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I think it’s safe to say that our society has a pretty ridiculous obsession with breasts. Breasts are shoved in our faces all the time—through screens, billboards, pages of magazines, what have you. They have become something of a paragon of beauty in our society; so many women today are dissatisfied with their natural breasts and go to great lengths to have them molded into “beautiful” breasts. I don’t know if we ask it enough: Why does our society put such a premium on breasts?

Many women I know are baffled by the appeal that breasts hold. I have often heard women respond to qualifying or sexualizing comments about breasts with statements such as “Why do people care what breasts look like?” or “What is so sexy about breasts? They’re only there so we can feed our children” or, my favorite, “They’re just sacks of milk.” *shudder*

I get the biological retort; it is a bit silly that we’re essentially sexualizing our udders (gross, but true). But at the same time, I can see how they came to hold the power that they have. Breasts are life-givers, really. They are how we provide for our offspring. No matter how many modern advancements are put forth in child care, the essential bond between a mother and child will always be associated with the act of breastfeeding.

So this begs the question: does the power of breasts only lie in their ability to “function”? Are breasts only glorious and powerful if they can nourish a child? I ask this because there is a strong possibility I will not be able to breastfeed my children.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall,
who is the fairest one of all?
Is it the one over there, that skinny girl
or the one with the curves who should give the title a whirl?
Does it go to those wearing the latest brands
or those from the thrift store stands?
People who embrace their “natural beauty”
or those who wear make up as if its their destined duty?
Those dressed nice and straight laced
or those who take trends and happily deface.

Snow White you say?
Are you sure your opinion does not sway?
What makes her so special?
Her beauty is not so pure!
She sleeps with 12 men
and never goes outdoors…
(If you argue, take a look
at her skin which is as white as paper in a book)

No. I should not be crude.
My self worth is not based on how she is viewed.
Insulting her does not make me happy
it just makes me seem crabby.
No amount of name-calling will that change
I can only assess the problem in front of me, this issue I estrange

How dare you say I am not beautiful, not the fairest?!
You have no proof on that, I do suggest.
More than that, I know you’re wrong,
In my mind and heart your words do not belong.
I am beautiful, I do declare.
Your opinion, forever more, I do forswear.

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