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Let\'s Talk About Nipples
Let\'s Talk About Nipples
Adebusola Abujade / Her Campus Media

My Eyes Are Up Here: On the Hypersexualization of Women and Girls

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

My journey through womanhood initiated with the early budding of my breasts. After less than a decade of childhood – despite fierce denial – my baby chest was covered with my first training bra. In the same time it took for the trees to highlight the horizon with orange and yellow hues and then shed browned leaves to the ground, I was exposed to how the changing of my body reflected how I interacted with boys. As my male counterparts performed rituals of masculinity through kickball, flag-football, and snowball fights, the ever tugging of my bra straps solidified my inability to mesh in with the opposite gender. Wearing a skirt in third grade was acceptable, but as I entered the depths of upper elementary – and my friends discovered how easy it was to pants me in front of my crush– I substituted flowered skirts for jeans and layered leggings under my shorts as an extra precaution. I no longer wore my favorite sparkly ballet flats because I was ashamed of the Hannah Montana lining for being too childish. After being teased about being married to a boy with the last name “Smith” while wearing my Smith beanie, I grudgingly battled the wind without an extra layer of warmth. Even at 9-years-old I was aware of the difference between boys and girls; the spurting of my chest became my Achilles heel. Being sexualized for the rounding of my chest was the first time I ever felt insecure. 

Middle school emphasized my self-doubt. On the surface, I was a minority (I was the only white girl in a school of Asians) but under my clothes the rapid curving of my form made me feel like a porn star at church. When changing for PE class, I faced the corner and removed my clothes as fast as possible because I was so ashamed of being a woman. My female classmates shot daggers at my hips, whispered about how I was the only one who needed a sports bra, and laughed as I jumped to fit my uniform skirt over my thighs. To the girls who called me “fat” in Thai because you either knew I couldn’t respond or assumed I didn’t understand: I hope you are ashamed for making someone who was so clearly an outsider because of her race feel like she was overweight for not having a similar bone structure. 

While the development of my womanhood in middle school outcasted me from my petite peers – many of which haven’t matured much since then – I am surprised to have recovered from the hypersexualization and borderline sexual harassment I faced from my horny male classmates. Rampant hormones dictate the intersexual relationships in a normal middle school, but to be one of the few girls with breasts and the only blonde was more than a testament to my spirit. While the girls called me names in a foreign language, the boys openly joked about all the ways they wanted to have sex with me. More often than not a friend would translate for me and I’d do my best to stand up for myself, but sometimes these boys became bold enough to tell me to my face how much they liked my body. I was doing my best to accept my physical maturation while experiencing the social separation that comes with being a minority, but my greatest demons were the 12-year-old boys bragging about masterbating to my Facebook profile picture. I am surprised going through puberty in Thailand as a white woman didn’t give me an eating disorder or worse. 

With each year in high school my breasts grew another cup size. I learned to ignore comments about how my butt looked in spandex because for me volleyball was “bump, set, spike” instead of a game of sex. While the boys basketball team played shirts vs. skins in a 100 degree gym, my team accepted our sweaty fate after consistently being dress coded and body shamed for practicing in our sports bras. I have perfected the craft of walking past male stragglers on the street – harass me they will – because feigning deafness is easier than responding to “Hey mama whatchu doin?” My wardrobe has evolved into two sections: shirts I can comfortably wear when I’m not in the mood to be harassed and low-cut tops for when I want to feel sexy. Just because women like sex doesn’t mean we always want to have sex.

As my breasts have grown so has my resentment; each morning I assess how my clothing will affect the way men treat me and how women might shun me. I am furious that I have been treated as a sex toy for over half my life because of where fat naturally deposits in my body. 

In my opinion, women will not be seen as true equals – whether among other females or around heterosexual men – until the rampant obsession with the feminine form is diminished. I want to workout, walk down the street, take public transportation, go to class, and wear glasses — I want to simply exist – without the voice in the back of my mind reminding me that whatever I do and whatever I wear I am fulfilling the sexual imagination of any given man. Let me f*cking wear a strappy tank-top to class and feel good about how my boobs look without being fetishised. 

From the day my mom took me to Walmart to buy my first bra, to recently while I was waitressing and a customer watched my every move and licked his lips at me, the ever looming shadow of my sexuality has followed my entire existence. Although I wear glasses to see, eat popsicles when my throat hurts, and pull up my pants when they sag, because I am a girl above the age of ten my actions are misinterpreted, overanalyzed, and obsessed over. I am more than a sexual object of desire and I am exhausted trying to explain why I deserve to be treated as such. Look up when I speak to you, my eyes are up here.

Lanaya Oliver

CU Boulder '24

Lanaya Oliver is the Editor-in-Chief and a contributing writer at the Her Campus Chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Editor-in-Chief, she oversees a team of editors, is the lead publisher and editor, and works as a campus corespondent. Outside of Her Campus, Lanaya is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is double majoring in both Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Sports Media. Her writing career started in high school when she was elected the position of school wide poet laureate after winning a poetry contest in her sophomore year. Now Lanaya’s writing has evolved from creative pieces to profiles and articles for her Her Campus articles. In her personal life, Lanaya is an ACE certified personal trainer and teaches both cycle and barre classes. Fitness is her passion and more often than not she can be found lifting weights, riding a bike, or running. She also enjoys being outdoors, binge watching movies, spending time with friends, thrift shopping, and munching on any white cheddar flavored snack she can find. Lanaya hopes to find a balance between her love for writing and her dreams of working in the fitness industry in her future career.