In this post, Amber Wheatley (co-host of Conversations on Being Human), shared a snippet of her experience living in a black body. She shares more in this episode; how she feels a constant anxiety because of the color of her skin and the uncertainty of how others will treat her because of it.
That’s not an experience I can relate to, and yet her question, ‘Will I ever feel safe in this body?’ struck a chord with me.
Do I like my body? Do I love my body? Am I caring for my body? Can I accept my body as it is?
These are more familiar questions and the answers have had varying degrees of Yeses and Noes over the years.
But safety? That’s a new one that has somehow slipped under the radar. As I give it time to sink in, I realize that for as much as my skin color, ability, and shape of my body offers me safety of the idolized status quo, there’s another part of my body that I am still making peace with.
While I’ve made strides in finding safety in my sensual and sexual body, there are still remnants of an old story that make me question, ‘is this really a good idea?’
The preaching from the pulpit that your sex was reserved for the marriage bed.
The idolization of the ‘first kiss at the altar’ purity culture.
The over-protective rules that banned bikinis at the beach.
The public grabbing of my body by a stranger for the entertainment of the audience.
The invitation from a colleague for a late-night swim.
I know this list could be a lot worse, and perhaps for you, it is. My heart breaks with you. I am so sorry.
I don’t think anyone is immune to the disease of body shaming, violation, extraction, exploitation, colonization.
If you’re wondering what that sounds like in real life:
“Your body needs to look a certain way.”, (and you always need to lose another 5lbs.)
“You are only here for the purpose or pleasure of others.”; from self-imposed workaholic to legit slavery.
“Others have the final say.”; from an uninvited hoot and holler to irrefutable rape.
While the range of these experiences can vary wildly, they are all wrong. Even if you feel you somehow escaped them directly, their very existence creates a threat that takes away from a sense of peace and safety.
I’ve been facilitating Embody movement classes for over 3 years now, a practice that gives permission for and invites your sensuality. It stands for the health and wholeness of a womxn’s softness, curves, pleasure, and sensual connection with life.
Truth is, every time I prepare for a class, there’s a part of me going ‘Oh shit. What if they find out? What will happen to me if they do?’
I’m not even sure who ‘they’ is anymore. This is how trauma works.
As much as I love the idea of full liberation in my body, another part of me is still scared of the liberation of my body.
Maybe it’s the same for you.
You might notice the words on my website: “Make peace with your body, create peace for our world.” Something I’ve been sitting with since Amber and I started the Conversations on Being Human podcast, wondering if accepting one’s own body is a key to dissolving racism and other social constructs that separate us from each other. Wondering if the first step is to cultivate connection with your own body.
Peace brings that one layer further; peace implies safety, not just a relationship.
I think what I’d like you to know here is that those words are an ongoing invitation. Not something I can say I’ve achieved. More like a north star that we can travel towards together.