I Have Boobs, Get Over It

Social constructs. They set rules that govern how we live our lives. The majority stick to these social rules, and so, it becomes the norm. Yet in reality, social constructs have no authoritative weight. Nevertheless, this standard way of thinking influenced my family’s household without actually meaning to.

When I was in grade 3, my only concerns were playing with my friends in the schoolyard, making everyone proud with success in school, and food. I wasn’t concerned with my body, the way it curved outward or in, or whether my hair parted the right way. I had no sense of body image, and when my mom told me I had to start wearing a bra, I was deeply confused. I remember her telling me it was because that way, I wouldn’t distract the boys with my nipples, but I didn’t understand where the problem was. The only explanation I could determine was that there was something wrong with my chest. I held this belief until I was 19 years old. Presently, I don’t think something is wrong, but the belief of my chest needing to be covered up sunk so far into my subconscious, that I still sometimes have a hard time liking that part of my body.

Although my mom had her reasons for telling little 8-year-old me to wear a bra, she could never foresee that this event would manifest in unhealthy mental thoughts. But let’s take a moment to acknowledge that the problem is not my mom placing social constructs on me, it’s the social acceptance of believing things need to be a certain way, and trying to mold people into fitting the norm. At 19 years old, I decided to reject standards set by social norms. I decided that a chest is a chest, so what if it doesn’t look like the cookie-cutter, perfectly rounded breasts you see plastered all over the media. My lemon shaped breasts are just as sweet.

This is my experience,
Yours truly,
Shayla

Body Alienation

In English literature, there are a few different types of narration when it comes to story-telling; first person, third person limited and third person omniscient. The narration that I’d like to bring to attention is third person limited. This is where the story is told from the perspective of one person, but not by the person that the story is about.

Growing up, I experienced my life from the third person limited perspective. Imagine that your eyes are a window, and on the other side of the window there is a room. Much of my childhood, I would step back into the room, and view life away from the window. In other words, I stepped back into myself, and my eyes rarely felt like mine.

When I did step back, it caused stress on my eyes. For years my eyes would hurt, or my vision would become blurry. I went to the optometrist a couple of times and results always showed: no concern with 20/20 vision.

It didn’t stop there. When I would look at my arms or legs, they were objects that I couldn’t feel – or recognize as my own. I had a HUGE disconnection with my mental process and my physical body. It never felt like they worked as one unit.

The physical alienation to my body caused obstacles that were sometimes hard to overcome. For instance, I wasn’t comfortable with moving my legs, or how my arms moved. So, when it came to gym class, or even playing soccer with the kids during recess, I usually stood awkwardly off to the side. When it came to organized sports, it appeared that I was disinterested, and as a result, I was sometimes removed from sports.

I got to be more comfortable with my thoughts, and I spent most of my childhood day-dreaming. There were summers that I spent lying on my bed, coming up with fantasy worlds. These places offered me a space where I could move freely, walk without reminding myself how to move my legs and open doors without forgetting how to use my hands. In my mind, there was a place that I could see a reflection of Self, and recognize it as me.

It took years to train myself to stay active in my personal experience. I kept wanting to step back, and watch reality go by at a distance. Ultimately, I was aware that bodily alienation wasn’t the way I wanted to experience life.

This is my experience,
Yours truly,
Shayla