Let’s talk about our bodies! Yes. Let’s talk about our phenomenal machines composed by pieces of flesh and bones. Our bodies, our temples; basically, what makes us part of this world, what makes us physical and tangible.
Before coming to the United States, my friend who is a great photographer, offered to take me some photos that I had been waiting to have for a very long time. I wanted to play with my gender. I wanted to have photos that could demonstrate the different aspects of my gender expression, for example: When I feel androgynous, when I feel feminine, when I feel neither, when I feel genderless, etc. Today, I finally saw the photos, and I completely loved them! But more than that, I love what they portray; they portray confidence, empowerment, passion, love… traits that I wouldn’t have though, at some other stage in my life, could be possible. Here’s the main reason why: I grew up with body shame.
When I was a little girl, my cousin and I would always compete about the silliest things; but he knew that, if he could get away with something, showing himself as the ultimate winner, that was calling himself “skinny” and calling myself “fat”. That word that NO ONE wants to listen, ever in their lives. That label that automatically excludes you from society, making you feel like your whole self is wrong. FAT, has stigma; it devaluates your humanity, your achievements, and most importantly, your self-love. Growing up was never easy for me. Monterrey, my hometown, bombarded me with images of beautiful hostesses and models with perfect bodies. Flat abs, strong built legs, great breasts, round butts… everything that a woman is supposed to physically achieve during her life, if she wants to (ever) be taken into account by men.
How could I possibly learn to love and accept my nature given body, if I was constantly put in the spotlight of “Fat”? How was I supposed to learn that the body this universe gave me is perfect, if I was surrounded by SHAME?. In both sides of my family, there were body shaming stories. One of my aunts has always been called “Fat” because my mom is the “Skinny”; on the other side, the only woman cousin that I had, struggled her whole life with weight issues. Of course nobody talks about it! Of course nobody acknowledges the emotional & psychological trauma effects that being called names and being mocked your whole life cause. With my cousin, it was one of those “don’t ask, don’t tell” situations. My dad used to tell me “You need to understand that she deals with stuff because… well… because…she’s fat; she can’t do a lot of stuff”. When I was 13 years old, my Mom put me on a diet because she thought I was gaining more weight than I was supposed to; so her way to avoid, me, ending up like my cousin, was to set me on track with food; but when I came to the United Stated for 2 months that same year… I GOT FAT. I went all the way for chicken strips, French fries, burgers, coca cola…AND I WAS HAPPY.
As I grew older, I realized that I had stretch marks on the sides of my legs; I started to notice that I had thick tights, and that, my butt wasn’t the most circular, consolidated Kardashian butt in the world. I could notice my curves, my short height, and my infinite love for food, and good metabolism. That’s when it hit me! I have my grandma’s body, but also my mom’s… I have a tendency to have rolls in my stomach, to be curvy; I know that if I don’t exercise or do something that “keeps me fit”, this is going to be my body, forever; AND I AM FINE WITH IT!. I just wish, somebody has told me that a bit earlier on in my life!. I wish I hadn’t have to grow up thinking that my body was wrong because it wasn’t anything like a Mexican telenovela actress’ body. I wish my family would have told that to my cousin, too. I wish those nights that I cried because I didn’t get into Televisa’s acting school; I had known that MY BODY WAS PERFECT.
So now, I see my photos… I am in love with my full body. I don’t need to kill myself at the Gym just to prove that I take care of me. I will buy a bikini to go to the beach on my vacation, and for the first time, I know that I’ll finally feel free to rock it and own it… even with the pressure of Miami. Body shame starts with us, and that is precisely my point; it’s a cycle. We are a product of society’s norms, behaviors and beliefs; and as long as we are not courageous enough to break through that, we will keep fostering and instilling in our children’s minds the same labels that were planted in ours.
Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
~ Brené Brown