What is your level of self-esteem from 1-10?
I’d say a 7.
Why did you want to participate in this project?
I think we could all stand to see each other naked more, you know? We’ve all been in the locker room at the gym and put a lot of effort into averting our eyes from the women around us, but why? A naked woman isn’t pornographic by default. I think this project sort of forces people to acknowledge that.
Are you nervous?
A little, yeah. I used to model for life drawing classes, so I’m telling myself this is a more involved version of that.
What is your self-esteem level right now?
Still a 7, I think.
How did being nude in front of another person make you feel?
Have you ever been sexually harassed?
I worked at a bar for a few years during college, so, yeah. Drunk men can be really gross and scary.
And, I mean, when I was 16 I had a job where the 40-something-year-old boss would push me against the wall to kiss me or would say lewd things to me in passing. One time he called me into the office and locked the door… thank goodness one of my co-workers needed something and knocked. I have no idea what would have happened.
How did this make you feel?
He made me feel dumb, honestly. I was so young… I felt like if someone as charismatic and well-liked as this man was doing this to me, it wasn’t bad and I had probably done something to deserve it. Looking back, he probably wasn’t all that well-liked or charismatic. Only somebody sad and awful does shit like that to a kid.
At least I had time between that job and my bar job to really understand that I didn’t deserve or ask for any of that abuse. When men at the bar would touch me or say something disgusting, I had no problem telling them to get the fuck out.
Tell me about a time you experienced sexism.
I find that, in meetings, men talk over me a lot. Or I’ll say something that will go wholly unheard and, a few minutes later, a man will say the exact same thing and everyone will acknowledge him for his great idea.
Oh! Or men I’ve dated for short periods of time who have taken it upon themselves to write me long, cruel letters informing me of all my flaws and failures. Because my rejection of them is somehow a failure of mine to recognize how amazing they are or whatever, because they’re entitled to my body and my company by way of their having a penis. One guy told me that I should be ashamed of my blog because until I learned to write about something other than myself, I’d never produce anything meaningful. I struggled with this for a while, actually. I considered the possibility that maybe he was right. And then I one day it occurred to me, “that’s what a blog’s for, stupid.”
Do you think being a woman has held you back from doing the things you want to do?
Not really, no. If there’s one thing my mom instilled in me, it’s that you have to work hard for what you want. Like, you owe the world, not the other way around, you know? She’s worked so hard her whole life; I’m an only child, but when my aunt died my cousin came to live with us, too. And then my dad left. So my mom basically supported herself and two kids on a manufacturing job’s salary. There were whole years at a time where she’d work 6-7 twelve-hour shifts in a row just to make ends meet and she’d STILL come home and make us dinner and make sure we had anything we needed for school or otherwise. I mean, hell, she’s 57 now and still works 3-4 twelve-hour shifts in a row at a factory. I think it’s women like her that really drive home the fact that being female isn’t a disability.
I was terrorized by a kid on the bus in elementary school until my mom coached me to hit him with my metal lunch box, which I did. And my middle school math teacher told all of my friend’s parents that I was a “devil worshiper” and a bad influence because I wore my dead aunt’s pentagram necklace. I didn’t have many friends that year… but I don’t know that I was bullied specifically because of my body. I suppose I got a lot of grief for how I dressed, but it wasn’t enough to make me change it, so.
How did these things make you feel about your body?
I was never bullied about my size, but I guess I’ve always felt like I SHOULD be thinner. Like if my breasts were bigger and rounder and if I had a flat tummy and smaller feet I’d be, somehow, a better person. I think I am my biggest bully, for sure. But I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a little more compassionate with myself.
What is your favorite part of your body?
My hands and my eyes, I guess. I have really long, thin fingers and my eyes are the same grey-blue as my mom’s.
I hate my spare tire. And I have a love-hate relationship with my boobs. Since my nipples are so big and my breasts are so small they just end up looking kind of, uh, pointy. But they’re sensitive, and that’s awesome. So. Yeah. Love-hate.
What do you do everyday to help yourself stay body positive?
So much of my confidence depends on whether my depressive tendencies are flaring up or not. On a normal day like today, a simple change like wearing a nice outfit that fits really well can help me feel really good about myself. If I’m fighting depression, it takes a little more effort to not look in the mirror and see all my flaws. Knowing that I’m loved by my husband and friends and family no matter what I look like really helps, too, I think.
How do you feel about the beauty industry and it’s effect on all women?
It’s so insidious! I don’t have much to say that most women haven’t already said before: it’s everywhere and it’s all the time and it’s frustrating that there’s really nothing we can do to effectively remove ourselves from the constant stream of airbrushed and photoshopped content. It’s force-fed to us by almost all media outlets so much that we’re basically subliminally told that we’re garbage people from the swamp unless we buy this lipstick or that eyeliner.
Any last words for the readers?
Be patient and tough.