I can vividly remember my mom asking me if anyone had tried to touch my private parts at a young age. At first, I was confused by the question, until she explained that no one was allowed to touch me ‘there’. It was then that I began to realize that my body could one day put me in danger.
I thank God that I was never sexually molested, but I couldn’t help but live in fear that it could happen.
From the age of 14 and on, I became highly aware of my body. I’ve always had a curvy body and I recall feeling ashamed of it because of the way men reacted to it — and I’m not talking about high school guys. I’m talking about men old enough to be my young uncle or dad. I tried to avoid walking by these men at all costs. I would even wrap a sweater around my waist in hopes that I would become invisible and they wouldn’t notice me.
This is also around the time I developed my RBF (resting “B” face). I thought that if I looked mean, men wouldn’t mess with me. I stopped being too friendly, because I feared it would be mistaken for flirting, as it had many times before. When I was 15, a person I knew very well, placed his hand on my thigh and and asked if I wanted to go for a ride. When I denied his advances, he became angry and accused me of being a tease. I was so confused, and I couldn’t understand how he thought I was teasing him. That moment really messed me up, because I knew that I hadn’t sent him mixed signals. Again, another moment when I blamed my body for the unwanted attention.
Throughout my life I have endured situations that made me feel humiliated and disgusted. I had two teachers and multiple coaches say inappropriate things to me, and I always felt like it was my fault.
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with their own sick minds. I would tell myself that I had no reason to be ashamed of my body and that I needed to love and accept myself.
This shame even followed me to my workplace. I had a director suggest that I shouldn’t wear pencil skirts because my body was curvy and I looked too provocative. Another time I was told that I looked like a hoochie — please note I was completely covered. I should also add that both comments came from grown women.
As an adult, I still find myself using my RBF as a defense mechanism because I’m afraid of ever appearing vulnerable. I still feel disgusted when older men look at me.
It makes me sad to see men gawk at these young girls, because I know exactly what they’re feeling. I was that young girl.
I feel that women are taught early on that we shouldn’t provoke men by the way we dress or carry ourselves. Instead we’re told to dress modest and hide our sexuality. Rather than putting this burden on women the better solution is to raise our men to respect women and not objectify their bodies.
If you’ve been through a similar situation or worse, please know you are in no way at fault. You didn’t provoke it and you’re not overreacting.
As always, thank you for reading <3