I think being a woman is fabulous. There are so many things women get to experience that are fabulous and beautiful (apart from child birth; it might be a miracle but I’m not sure I could ever justify that much bodily fluid being ‘beautiful’). With all the great things that come with being a lady, I am also definitely a victim of womanly shame. I have worried about so much that is totally not under my control. I’ve decided to list all of the things I have been ashamed of throughout my short time on this earth as an XX chromosome.
1. Being a feminist.
Even writing that header seems totally ridiculous. I am now 90% sure that most of the sweet people that walk this Earth are feminists. Men and women. So why- please- has this been used as some kind of insult or explanation for my ‘questionable’ behaviour on so many occasions. It has happened recently, when I’ve been awake and alert enough to acknowledge that I have been punched in the ovaries with metaphorical fists of ignorance.
After texting a guy for a few weeks, I’d expressed that I found some of his tweets a bit arse-wipey. The most common one along the lines of ‘sit on my face’.
He got genuinely offended that I had been put off by his Twitter account. He said it was ‘his humour’. As a general rule my humour reacts best to bears waving and people walking into glass doors. Not reducing women to walking genitals. I got a text a few minutes after above conversation: ‘are you a feminist?’ I explained that yes, I believed in equal rights for women.
So, my feminism was now an excuse for my behaviour. He obviously questioned the content of his Twitter for a brief moment. Maybe his conscience was a bit heavy for a minute. Then ‘Oh! Wait. She’s a feminist! It’s just her!’ The really sad thing is, for a few minutes after the texts, I felt really ashamed that I had admitted being a feminist to him. I thought ‘he thinks I’m really uncool now’. But really, why would I care? I am not ashamed of wanting equal pay, respect and rights for women all over the world. Feminism (despite its name) stands for men, too! If the gender roles were reversed I would honestly want the same for the taller, hairier kind of our species. The guy used feminism to mean ‘hating men’. I don’t hate men. In fact, they are amongst my favourite things. I tell you what I do hate, being seen as a walking, talking lady garden. I’m much prettier than that.
I feel like I could just leave it there and women all over will just stand up together and yell ‘WORD’. I asked a few people to confess their own shame and the most common involved body hair.
‘I’m ashamed of succumbing to removing body hair!’
‘That we are made to feel like we have to shave our vaginas!!!!!!’
I haven’t even exaggerated the amounts of exclamation marks. That is how adamant ladies are about this. I don’t think that most women are ashamed of having body hair. It’s more that some of us feel like we are giving in to something by getting rid of it. I do it. I am so bad for remembering to shave my legs. I don’t have that Julie Andrews sounding ‘proper’ lady voice in my head that tells me when I’m in the bath ‘it’s time to take off the furry tights’. Then I will come to a moment where my bare legs are required in public, and I panic. What if people see the hair on my legs? What if I accidently brush legs with a nice, shaved, bare leg and my prickles draw blood!? But really, is anybody offended? I do feel better with an under control fur situation, but why? Men don’t have to do it. I would be really sad if men started to feel like they had to. Apparently we have Harper’s Bazaar in 1915 US to blame. As women started to wear sleeveless clothing (and later, shorter dresses) they became of their body hair.
Some of the shame seems to come in enjoying being hair free. As I said, I feel better when all my lawns are mowed. I know that if I went out with a man they would mind if I was gorilla-esqe. Men, I do not really blame you. What bothers me is I have no idea why I should feel ashamed if I don’t shave. For heaven’s sake people still talk about that one time Gwyneth Paltrow was papped with hairy underarms. Murders have gone with less press coverage.
There is a whole chapter in How to be a Woman that explains this more eloquently I ever could. But you get the gist. Now go forth and grow a leg beard.
I spent most of 2004-2009 thinking the same thought: I’m sure I will have boobs in a year. It got me through the day. I got so mad that some girls had grown really fabulous bosoms by the age of 13, and I had very little. And I was aware that I had a backside. I felt like a walking pear. Again, when I asked my friends what they felt ashamed of the most being a woman it was breasts.
‘My stupid boobs that are so ugly that they make me cry.’
‘I shouldn’t care that I’m flat chested. I try so hard not to care.’
The first one breaks my heart. I know that one of her exes really liked her boobs. He told her this on several occasions. I totally agree though, I hated mine too. I feel like at any moment now my (kind of) writing momentum is going to be totally buggered. I want to attack my keyboard with WHY? I ashamed of how much time I have spent thinking about my chest as a teenager. I have kind of made peace with my boobs now, we’re cool, but good grief it was such a big deal in high school. I once got told that a boy in my year had said (about me) ‘if she had boobs, she’d be the one’. It shattered me. Imagine! I would be perfect if I had boobs. But I didn’t, so I was stuffed.
Author’s note: Can I just say that I am aware that men have parts to worry about to, arguably more vital parts (making baby vs feeding baby). I am sorry you have to go through this too.
One of my friends said she felt ashamed that she felt good about how her boobs looked in a push up bra. As a small chested bird, I understand this. I always felt that if I wore a push-up bra that I was false advertising. Maybe we should feel confident enough to go un-padded, but It really doesn’t matter. Like shaving body hair, if something makes you feel good how can you question it? I’ve heard and read so many comments about Keira Knightley’s boobs.
‘If Keira Knightley had boobs then perfection would be reached and the world must end’
‘Keira Knightley is an Atheist and just got a bazillion times hotter. She still has small boobs though’
I’m not going to hate on men here. Men like boobs, that’s fine. I find it actually quite therapeutic seeing that first tweet because it’s along the same lines as my high school comment. It just seems so strange that people are so offended that Keira has a small chest. The second tweet actually suggests that she should feel bad about it. Like woah, Keira, you were on the right track there, but what’s with the boobs!?
There is actually a lot more to address here people. But for now, enough with the shame.
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