Inspired by Maureen Shaw’s post about the pregnant body …
I know I’m probably asking the wrong crowd, but how do men do it?
How the hell do they stand in front of a mirror, grab their beer belly and grumble–and then toss on a shirt and go on their merry way?
How can they stand the heat in those long sleeves? Is it because they’ve never been taught to think of themselves as decoration? Because bare arms and shoulders haven’t been in for men since the gladiator games? Now that I’ve added my arms to the already-too-long litany of body parts I’m iffy about, I’ve developed a serious case of gender envy. Because I’d love to see myself as I see other women–as I’m (almost fairly) certain the men in my life who love me see me. But it’s not happening. Not yet, at least, though I won’t stop trying.
Till then, there are the questions. The choices. Bare arms or covered? Long dress or short? Gray hair or colored? Not the deepest choices by any meaningful measure, but still. Why don’t we have our own tuxedo (or a Starfleet uniform?)–that one magical outfit that looks good on everyone?
Yes, I do realize there are plenty of men and women who believe that the Hijab or the Burqa or the Niqbab (or a skirt or a wig in another culture closer to my own) is exactly the sort of thing I’m asking for. And maybe those would work if I’d grown up where wearing them is the norm, though I wonder if there would ever have been a version of me that didn’t question things I wasn’t supposed to question. I mean, is it really possible to wear clothes whose sole purpose is to manage the ”object-hood” of a female body and never have any conscious awareness of that fact enter your pysche?
Maybe that’s what men have been doing to varying degrees of success for centuries. Would homophobia exist if a man could make it through life without ever once considering that someone else might consider him a sexual object? (One of the unfortunate downsides of defining sexuality and gender identity in those pesky passive/aggressive binaries.)
Maybe I’m looking for a mild case of denial. Or a sweet set of wine goggles. I want to believe I might find my way to acceptance, but in the meantime, venting and discussing and sharing are a good enough substitute. Have you gotten there yet? Do tell. Feel like you’ve found a way to deal? Tell that, too …
Jodi is a freelance writer and recovering academic with more enthusiasm for sports than athletic talent and a prodigious taste for the health food known as dark chocolate.