On appearances 

The thing about my sexuality is that, ever since puberty, it has defined how I get looked at. Interest, envy, attraction, judgment, desire, jealousy. Wherever I go, I get taken in through how I look. And how I look has always been talking loudly. Louder than anything I can say with my voice. And none of it is because of my own doing, this is just how my genetic blueprint turned out.

At 11, I went from a training bra to a double D bra in the course of a few months. I was already acting like an adult, now I looked like one too. I remember a particular conversation with someone who was asking which college I was attending, and I had to respond that I hadn’t even started high school yet. All the attention I was getting always bordered on the overwhelming. And although she tried her best, my mother’s unresolved sexual trauma tainted her relationship with the sexuality my body exhibited. It’s hard to learn to be comfortable with how you look when your own mother isn’t.

The effect of my appearance were somewhat muted as I became overweight. I guess you could say that was one way I found to have some control over the whole thing. (Disclaimer: I am in no way making judgments about weight, health is a state that everyone needs to find for themselves, no matter what the scale says) I’ve always been aware that my borderline obesity was a part of my psychological unwellness. It manifested at its worse while I was also struggling heavily with agoraphobia and self-harming. Hiding at home and hiding inside my body. Loathing mirrors and cameras and reflections. Wanting to be overlooked.

When my healing transformation allowed me to stop carrying the past and to claim myself back, so much weight dropped off of me, and everything changed again. I wasn’t being overlooked anymore. So I had to make sense again of what everyone’s gaze meant, about me, about them, about our humanity, about our society. And, well, let’s just say it’s a lot to handle. It was for sure too much at 11, and at 31 it’s still barely ok. At least I have this project, to give me an outlet and to ground my consciousness about this into something concrete.

I have tremendous inherited hatred for my womenness. It has been a major blind spot of mine for the longest time. It’s hard to be aware of internalized misogyny. It takes taking responsibility for your own part in how you are treated by looking squarely in the face of how you treat yourself. And maybe I could have been onto it earlier if that had been the only message I received, but it wasn’t. The objectification of women is a consequence of misogyny but it’s also a corrupted form of adoration. That’s why women themselves are so ambivalent about it. I mean, I really shouldn’t talk in the name of all women. I guess from my experience, I can own the fact that I want to be desired just as much as I want to desire, and that if objectification is the only way to get that, I would have a hard time giving it up. It’s a good thing I don’t believe it is the only way. This is why I am out here, trying to shift things for myself.

The other thing that makes my appearance so difficult to accept is the fact that my sister looks so different. I guess I could describe it as I fit in the conventional norms of what’s considered beauty, and she doesn’t. And of course the norms are total bullshit, yet we all have to live in the world they rule. Me and my sister both. And she happens to have the blessing and the curse of being extremely self aware of her differences. When it comes to appearances, that veers heavily towards the curse. I have spent entire my life watching people stare at her. Most people are unconsciously showing their lack of familiarity with differences. Some people are straight up vicious as a way of being defensive against the unknown of what they perceive as a threat. But my empathy for and understanding of their behavior does not make it any easier to stomach watching my sister look at herself through how they look at her. Writing this out loud brings up a lifetime of utter sadness and useless rage at my powerlessness in these situations. It makes me cry because I have literally no other way to deal with this.

So, in case that’s not plain to see, guilt is the other thing plaguing me. I have read about the concept of survivor’s guilt, something veterans and survivors of disasters have to contend with. The thing is, the issues of survivor’s guilt are so close to what I experience, even though my sister is still alive, that I believe there is such a thing as the healthy one’s guilt. It’s probably easiest to notice in more extreme cases like mine, but it’s also arguably something everyone experiences for the privilege they have over others. And guilt is a nasty thing. It’s just as destructive as shame, I would say in just a more insidious way. Shame burns like I am being branded from the inside. Guilt is more like a poisonous vine slowly strangling all my organs.

All these things add up to what I see when I look at myself. But they are not what I want for myself. I want to reach for the power to own my appearance. I want to transcend my fears and shame and guilt. I want to not shy away from embodying my sexuality. It’s a huge responsibility, but at the end of the day, we all have our blessings and curses as the two sides of the same coin we’ve been given. The art is to rise to the occasion and let your own light shine bright.

On what it sounds like 

I’m still thinking about my analogy between crying and orgasms. There really is something there for me.

In some way, I think we are similarly deprived of true expressions of both. They are both so intense and, for different reasons, there’s no public place for their release.

If you know how to live these things privately in a healthy manner, then it’s great, you’re all set. But if you don’t know, if you didn’t have good models, if you’ve lost your way, where can you turn to learn what crying sounds like or what having an orgasm sounds like?

I said the other day that crying felt more truthful because I don’t know how to induce it, as opposed to orgasm. It’s true. I have become very good at inducing orgasms. And I am not as good or as inclined to induce crying. But I want to point out that I don’t mean “induce” as in “fake”. I guess both orgasms and crying can be faked. Maybe that’s exactly the problem. How do you know you’re not faking yourself if you don’t know what the real thing sounds like?

What’s real. Still and always what I am looking for.

On being vulnerable

Being vulnerable is a gateway. A gateway to sensuality. A gateway to connection. A gateway to beauty. A gateway to transcendence.

People usually perceive being vulnerable as being weak, but really it’s the opposite. It takes so much strength to allow yourself to be vulnerable.

It takes enough strength to feel everything you’re feeling and be real about it.

It takes enough strength to be who are instead what you think others want you to be.

On yeses and noes 

I think one of the most important thing to learn in life is consent. Learn to consent for yourself and learn to respect others consent. In the context of sexual interactions and every other contexts too.

The most important thing I have learned about consent is that, if you can’t say no, you’re never really saying yes.

This is so important to me. I believe that not understanding this is at the source of a lot of ills. I was shut down for a long time because I didn’t trust that my no was going to be respected, so I couldn’t say yes anymore. By learning to say no and by being in circumstances were my no was an accepted limit, I became able to say yes to what I want again. I mean, it’s still a process, but everyday I’m getting better at it.

Sexually speaking, I think it’s pretty clear that if women don’t feel safe, they’re not going to be able to let their desires flourish. So if we want women to say yes to being sexual, we have to create a context where they feel they can always say no. Because (it bears repeating), you’re not saying yes if you can’t say no.

On cycles

A woman’s menstrual cycle. Still a subject that’s not really out there. It might be ok to joke about it, but in general it’s TMI. Like with pee and poop, we’re all a bit repressed by our civilized rearing. But also, menstruation is something that happens to only half the population, to the second sex. So it sparks the debate on difference and equality.

I’m always very hesitant to bring it up. Because I feel the pressure to not stand out, not be difficult, keep the field leveled. If the standard is consistent energy but mine isn’t, it feels more like a personal failure, like I’m the one unable to make myself play the game correctly.

In our current society, women are out there, going to school, having careers, playing sports, holding office. I was brought up to think I can do whatever I want, be whatever I want. But when I try to be myself, so often I end up being told that’s not really acceptable. And not just in personal ways of being myself, as in I like country music, but in biological ways as well.

The consistent level of energy model is so pervasive. Like with our relationship to nature. Again our civilized ways allow us to have the same lifestyle rain or shine, summer or winter, day or night. With technology and will power, we have mastered the cycles that used to rule us. And so, when you get to your job Wednesday morning and say, I’m really tired today because my period is about to start, it sounds like you’re not keeping up with the program.

It’s a shame though, because when I align myself with my cycle, I am so much more myself. And I believe that if I could really live my cycles, go where they want me to go, move like they want me to move, I would be even more myself.

Last week, all I wanted was to go to the nearest forest and bury myself in the earth. Now I’m a little bit more interested again in regular life but still, I wonder how I would feel if I had gone to rest in Mother Nature instead of just keep going.