over exposed

i am used to being seen: being pointed at, whispered about, openly scorned and a source of exaggerated disgust.  but the sheer density of those experiences as i’ve been visiting in south carolina has been overwhelming.  there have been many moments when i’ve felt so close to tears, like i just want to hide from all those pointed looks and unforgiving stares.  then yesterday, after about a day of reprieve, i was again sitting around feeling bitter and falling out of composure.  reminding myself that i chose this physical presentation, that i knew what i was getting into, that at least i have the option of altering this physical piece that makes me a target of hate.  my skin is pretty tough, but clearly not tough enough.  i let my absurd self-blaming thoughts swirl around me, salting my wounds, in the hyper material, hyper artificial world at the mouth of a target, surrounded by other big box consumerist spots.  alternately hiding behind my half a head of hair and curiously watching the people that pass in and out of the store, i find that the pain is either made worse or eased depending on the brief interactions.

then as i’m feeling a little lower in this volatile dance, i notice a woman leaving with her daughter and son.  the son is holding onto a bouncy blue ball and the little girl, dressed in a glittery pink dress is clutching an identical pink ball to her chest.  her mom is saying something about going to another store when me and the little girl catch each others eye and share a smile between us that lingers briefly.  and she is not looking at me with eyes that shine with scorn, like so many of the other people who have looked at me lately.  no, instead she is simply taking me in, trusting my smile and i hope, nearly beg her with my eyes, to take away this image, squirrel it away and use it as a thing that will absorb some of the attacks against her body she’s already fighting off.  i want her to carry this image of a girl in a pink romper, with hairy legs and armpits and chin, with half a shaved head and a mischievous errant curl as another possibility of what girls can look like.  it seems she will, but maybe i hope it too much to see anything else.  then as quickly as she came, she’s gone.  and again i feel tears hot beneath my eyes, but this time the sensation accompanying them is relief.  for a moment in this mean world i am reminded of part of why i weather the frequent judgments and mean words whispered loud enough for me to hear.  yes, part of it is a real love for my body, a real desire to celebrate every last piece of it in spite of everything else i’m taught.  but it is also to offer little girls another possibility of what a girl can look like.

it makes me want to get back into the grrrrrrrls studies guide.  it makes me want to scream and curl into a ball and hide.  and i know i must offer myself both of these acts of self love, to nurse the wounds and coax myself out of this dark place i’m currently inhabiting, and then to keep fighting.  and to keep fighting in a way that brings in the truth in the analysis from my self blaming thoughts of earlier–that acknowledges the even heavier shaming done to bodies of women of color and how i am choosing to wield my body as a weapon against beauty standards.  but first to remind myself how much i love my body.  because really, i do love it.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paxus
    Jun 27, 2012 @ 23:22:05

    i could not do what you do, not this part. My super ego is too fragile and i would spend a lot of energy worrying. It was as radical as i could get to wear my hair long and now i dont even do that.

    i appreciate your bravery, and i want you to know for every girl like the one you saw today, there are a dozen others who see you and think that is possible, without ever letting you know they have been influenced.

    good luck in restarting grrrls studies. hugely needed.

    Reply

  2. Seth G.
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 03:09:07

    This is beautiful.

    It seems that you continue growing your love boundlessly. In the time that I knew you well, I saw you give courage and open possibilities for people every single day. I imagine that regardless of their gender identity, You continue to do that for people young and old struggling to comprehend and mitigate a barrage of gender stereo-types.

    Keep writing Sara!

    Reply

  3. fireriverdancer
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 03:35:05

    goddess, i have always known that you are an indigo child. i love witnessing you becoming a muse for all indigos…i am in awe of your strength and conviction to be true to yourself, your willingness to take risks and be comfortable in your own skin. thought energy is instantaneous and quite powerful and lasts forever. know that what you shared with that little girl will remain with her always. by your very presence you are tearing down the walls of judgement, for once we all “see” beyond ones physical presence we will feel, experience and know our oneness. love and light, aunt joyce

    Reply

  4. Mandu
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 03:42:52

    You are braver than I, Sweet Sara T. Though, I have felt those eyes upon me at times. Usually it’s lil old ladies in a grocery store in any place south Georgia. In a tank top, my tattoos leave them with the impression that I must be a felon, a lesbian, a prostitute, or some combo of the three.

    Keep fighting the patriarchal power!

    Reply

  5. donnagg
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 03:51:09

    As a girl who has always felt trapped by destructive body/self-image issues– always, even now as I sit here writing this– I want you to know that I see you and love you for loving yourself the way it is so clear to me that you do.

    I feel shame about the way I look only insomuch as I feel the weight of other people’s eyes on me. In my moments of solitude, alone in my room with the blinds drawn, then and only then have I been able to feel fully loving of the body I see in the mirror. I love every inch of me, knowing the whole history of who I am and how that history has shaped the way I look now, in those moments by myself. Sometimes, I do still mourn the loss of the 20-something, waifish girl who could still do pirouettes en pointe and raise one leg to her ear in an almost 180-degree angle from her standing leg. That girl doesn’t have my scars or the roundness of my hips or any of the other blemishes that come with age and motherhood. Even then, however, that girl worried all the time about how she was being perceived by everyone around her and committed acts of self-hate against her own body.

    Those scars and that roundness make me hypersensitive about my appearance in the presence of others, even those I count amongst my friends and loved ones. I don’t think I’ll ever escape those feelings; they’ve been so deeply ingrained, so indelibly fixed in my psyche.

    Reply

  6. Jasmine G
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 18:09:54

    This was great piece Sara!

    Reply

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