Saturday, February 18, 2012

Slut Armor

Growing up, I had a lot of problems with my body. Truth be told, I still do. Everything from the nose that has always been too large for my face, to my ears that turned me into an elf (I still get told I look like Legolas), to my chest - my rib cage is slightly concave, to a number of other issues. My small town classmates made sure I knew that I was ugly and unwanted, and I helped them out by supplying my own insecurities.

That's why, when I graduated high school, I was shocked to find that there was a big world out there. And there were a lot of people who were, all of a sudden, interested in me.

I had my first kiss 3 days after high school graduation with the quarterback of a local Christian university. Within the next week, I visited my first gay club. In that one night, more people told me that they thought I was hot than had ever happened in my entire life. I was instantly shoved into a new category of person.


What you have to understand about me is that there is well-photographed evidence that I used to be so uncomfortable about my body, that I would wear socks with sandals, and pull them so high they nearly came to my knees. The less skin I could show, the better. Shirts worn were at least 2 sizes too big. I had a 28" waist (I know...I'm jealous of me at 18, too), but I was wearing XXL shirts. I had encased myself in a cloud of clothing, trying to hide myself.

But, then there was that first kiss, that first real date, that first trip to the gay club.

I began to learn that there were sizes smaller than XXL. In fact, I began to realize that those hours I spent at the gym nearly 7 days a week had given me a decent body. I had the 18-year-old makings of abs and calves and all those wonderful things you look at on a guy. I was ready to evolve.

For a couple of years, I had clothes that I would wear to go to school, work, and daily life, but then there was the wardrobe that was exclusively used to worship the dance floor. The shirts so tight, I was poured into them on Saturday evening before going out. The jeans so close to my skin, that it was as though I were wearing a second skin - one that made my butt look really good. Oh yeah, I found out I was a good dancer. A great dancer.

Sparrow over at the Wigglian Way had a segment on their most recent show about people being called 'slut' or 'whore', and having those names be hurled based on attire. And, on instinct, I wanted to initially respond with a clinical, sociological approach to the topics of how society reacts to certain types of people and dress and why. There is history and psychology and mass shame that goes in to our derision of 'sluts' and 'whores.' Sometimes, it can be jealousy, but others it can be that the whole is against something, so - despite personal beliefs - we must be, too.

Instead, I'm responding with this. This confessional. I've been with a lot of people. Well, for the gay community, I've barely had much fun at all. But, for most, I'd probably be considered a slut. A whore. There are people that I've slept with whose names I do not remember, and I barely remember their faces.

At this point in the story, people usually say 'I'm not proud of it, but there it is.' I'm not going to say that.  I am proud. I'm proud that I was able to claw my way out of intense depression and body dysmorphia. I'm proud that I discovered myself as a sexual being, and not just the ugly nerd who was far too into comic books and magic. I'm proud that, when I went to the dance floor, people turned to watch. I'm proud that I discovered I had a power within me I never fathomed I had, and I'm proud that I used it.

For me, my tight clothes and accessories were armor. They carried me through the battlefield of self-acceptance. Now, I know from classes on psychology that this type of dress is not always indicative of that type of mentality. Sometimes it is a desperate plea for any attention whatsoever. Sometimes it is for a number of negative reasons. But, not for me. That was not my experience.

Though, I was still labeled a 'bitch' because when guys propositioned me that I was not interested in, I declined. My refusal to have sex with anyone and everyone made me a bitch - the gay community is funny like that. And, yeah, I've been called a 'slut' and a 'whore', but it was by people that had no clue how many people I actually slept with. In fact, I'd dare say it had less to do with my bedroom gymnastics and more to do with the fact that I was dancing or making out with the guy they wanted to dance or make out with. Oh well.

Today, I wear my body comfortably. I cannot change the saggy skin under my eyes (thanks, parents, for those genetics), nor can I change my prodigious nose. My ears grew to fit my body, finally. I'm a 34" waist now, which fits my 6' 6" frame better. Those hours at the gym have helped my chest, somewhat, but that is still an area of insecurity.

But, I still have one or two pieces of armor in the back of my closet, some jeans, that aren't nearly as tight as I once wore, but they do the job when my inner battle lines are drawn.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for the great read, it is exactly what I needed to hear right now! Made my weekend :)

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  2. Interesting. I too have a kind of armor that I wore all throughout my teenage years. Basically that being black and more black. It wasn't the armor I wanted—I would've given anything to be a beautiful waif-life goth girl, or a hard-core punk princess, or be cool enough to pull of grunge (aging myself there)—but it was all I had. I was too big to find jeans in my size, let alone anything cool (clothing choices for big girls have improved since then). I was afraid to wear color. I wouldn't even wear colorful shoes. Black. Hidden. Dark. Invisible. Black. My weight itself had become armor, and my clothes reflected it. And actually, I think it's in that order: internal armor, outer armor. We both dress and behave how we feel (or how we want to feel), how we think of ourselves (or how we want to think of ourselves), how we want others to see us (what we wish to be). I wanted to disappear. I succeeded to a certain extent. I succeeded for more than 7 years. So much so, that I'm still having a hell of a time undoing my internal/external invisibility cloak.

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  3. Wow, I realize I'm a few days behind in reading, but this post was amazing!!! Please know that I'm shouting out AMAZING!!!! Loved it. I heard the Wigglian way podcast as well, but yours touched me in a huge way. Thanks!

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  4. I too felt unwanted and not pretty in high school and then BAM! It's like I couldn't get them away from me fast enough! It was crazy. I think boys change their perspective on what is pretty after high school. I think they want a real woman and not someone who hides under make up and is perfect all the time but will get dirty and not worry about breaking a nail....all the while looking pretty and being feminine LOL Anyway, try this how to tighten skin treatment that I tried in my last hurdle to get over my insecurities. After I lost some weight I had loose skin and this helped!

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