this week’s fun work

girls studies in our fabulous wear

each week i am inspired again by our girls studies class and a little self congratulatory for having manifested it with my housemate emma.  each week i am reminded of why i wanted to start creating this space for girls growing up in our media heavy culture.  last week we watched music videos by a couple of popular younger female artists.  we looked at what these videos were teaching us: to define ourselves by our romantic relationships with boys, to fight amongst each other over boys, to compare ourselves to each other and make enemies of each other, that all we have to talk about is boys and finally, that we are all beautiful and perfect and will hear many times otherwise but to know it wasn’t true.  the last video was certainly redemptive.

and the things we’d seen launched us into conversations about image and body.  one girl jumped up at one point, needing to be heard, and shared that she knew what it was like to compare herself to her best friends.  as a girl with an average body size, she admitted she sometimes would look at her smaller friends and be jealous.  or feel fat.  please note that these girls are of the 7-9 y/o range.  we heard from another of the women who comes to class, who told the other side of the size comparison story.  she’d always been thin growing up, and she remembered hearing people use the word “skinny” in ways that hurt her, made her think there was something wrong with her.  it seemed that, collectively, we had experiences of hearing that any and all body shapes were undesirable and not beautiful.  i shared this eloquent piece on how we, as girls and women, are coerced into believing we need to be model thin to be beautiful.

and it reminded me that, for a long time, i’ve wanted to create a sharing circle for women, where we’d sit around naked and do three rounds.  first, saying the things we like about our bodies.  second, saying what we do not like about our bodies.  third, getting to share with the other women around the room what we love about their bodies.  so for fun work this week–our equivalent of home work, which the girls insist is actually wonderful–we are all to write about one thing we love about our bodies and another thing we do not like.  one of the girls looked up, clearly perplexed and asked what to do if there wasn’t anything she didnt like.  and for a second i doubted the necessity of this class, but i hope that girls studies will help these girls remember what they already know about themselves when social pressures increase in the upcoming years.  i looked back at her, beaming, and said she could write about two things she liked about herself.

and today, in our brief time overlapping at woodfolk, ben said to me again how unique and wonderful he thought girls studies was.  and i got all giddy thinking about how far this could spread if emma and heather and deborah and i can get a curriculum together.  so i want to invite you, as female or male bodied people who read this blog, to do our fun work.  leave a comment about one thing you love about your bodies and one thing you dont.  i’ll go first.  be bold and vulnerable, i can promise the practice will be rewarding.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sara Tansey
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 20:17:27

    one thing i love about my body. my legs. i notice this especially when i’m biking in tights. i love the way they’re defined by my active life, the way they feel when i’m biking up a steep hill, the way they look when i lay in bed with a lover. i love how hairy they are and how i oft absent-mindedly play with the hair on my legs. i love how my legs hold my body, how they are solid and muscular and can dance all night long until they burn a little and yell at me to go to bed. i like the line my muscle makes down my outer thigh, the fullness of my thighs and the muscle that dominates my calves.

    one thing i dont like about my body. this was actually hard for me. because i could likely write an ode to all of my body parts, given enough time. but i did notice that i have some hesitation around my knees and elbows. and what funny things to second guess. but i find them awkward and a little ungainly. and still i dont think about them much. i would say mostly i’m luke warm about my knees and elbows, and maybe i’ll have to notice other people’s knees and elbows, because i have a suspicion i will find them awkward and ungainly on all people.

    ok, who’s next?


  2. paxus
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 03:15:52

    a thing that i love is the scar on my leg where i burned it on a tail pipe going up the side of a volcano on Raratonga in the South Pacific. I love it because it is an early warning mechanism for me to tell if i am run down, it often scabs or reddens first. Something i dont like is the dry skin on my left foot, which is asymetric and does not seem to go away on its own.


  3. joyce
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 03:46:40

    guess it runs in the family, i love my legs…they have carried me to so many amazing places…allowed me to dance the night and day away time and time again. they are a gift from my mom and dad that i am forever thankful for, reminding me of the strength/stability they have given to me to honor and trust my instincts …. even when it differed from theirs.

    what don’t i like…embrace…my stomach…actually don’t like minimizes my relationship with my stomach, i have hated it!!!! for as long as i can remember, since i am now 60 that is a long time. perhaps a conflict within me between all those lives as a man vs this life as woman, who knows. more importantly i am addressing this with full force…in this life and coming to accept my stomach as a “good” part of the me that is me.


  4. Caroline
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 18:16:56

    I love the curves of my hips, the power they hold within them, and the way i can move them! My hips make me feel very womanly, and i love the hourglass shape they give my body.

    I don’t like the backs of my upper arms. I have a lot of fat there left from when i was much bigger. I think just due to the nature of it i’ll never be able to get rid of it, even if i were still trying to lose weight. Even strengthening my triceps won’t make it go away, i did weight training for a long time trying to lose it. Oh well – other people don’t seem to notice it at all, and i know i’m quite strong in my triceps anyway.


  5. Kristina
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 17:49:09

    I love the shape of my face. I haven’t always. I have been told by girls when I was little and hairdressers when I was older that my face is too round, not the oval ideal of beauty it should be. But now when I look at my face I see features of my brother and grandmother who have left this earth… I see a large brow that reflects intelligence, hazel eyes that change color, the beginnings of visible aging that mirrors the maturing I am starting to enjoy, and a mouth that still knows how to make silly clown faces.

    These days I am also falling in love with a pregnant belly, a belly that had grown soft and larger in the last few years in a way that I did not like, but that now is no longer only my own to judge. It has become a protective home…

    These days I am not as fond of the general softening of my body. Feels like a once inherently active lifestyle of cycling and dancing and walking everywhere has been tamed by more acceptance of car culture and computer work. Sometimes this frightens me. Right now it makes me want to sign off and go outside!


  6. horacio
    Oct 30, 2011 @ 05:17:02

    so… i like my scars from multiple bike and scooter accidents, and also my thighs also from biking and always being on the run.

    i dont like my upper body mainly because i dont have strong arms and my shoulder bones stick out some.

    and yes, i read all your entries sara.


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