The Generic Things That Make Us All Exquisitely Sexy
This guest post graciously submitted and re-posted by Kate Fridkis, from Eat The Damn Cake.
Because I’ve decided to have a baby at some point, I figured I should learn more about birth. I mean, really, I should learn more about babies and toddlers and children and whatever they turn into after that, god help us, but that all seems so far away, and so much less frightening. So I started googling, and I ended up watching a bunch of videos of women giving birth. In giant tubs, by the side of the bed, on the bed, and sometimes in the bathroom.
You have to understand, I am squeamish. Once my mom took me to see a special film about surgery at the science museum, because she thought it would be educational and interesting, and I thought it looked like a bunch of spaghetti at first, but it turned out that, no, it wasn’t and then I thought I was going to barf. For the next, say, ten years, when I wasn’t having nightmares about being eaten by a tyrannosaurus rex (my little brother was obsessed with dinosaurs), the horrifying image of exposed guts played vividly through my dreams.
“Your father will die,” the surgeon was telling me, “Unless you restore his tomat
o sauce levels! You have to reach into the abdominal cavity! Quick, quick!” The What’s Happening To My Body Book for Girls said to take a hand mirror and pull back the labia and check out the opening of your vagina. I skipped that step. My vaginal opening and I have a cordial, mutually respectful relationship. We send holiday cards. We don’t feel the need to get too much closer. But there are some steps I don’t want to skip, so I’ve decided to face them.
And when I watched the women with babies’ heads sprouting from between their legs, I was surprised by my own reaction: I was impressed. Yeah, it was a little gross. There was some weird fluid-y stuff, and some gunk, and some blood, and some goo, but there was also this whole entire baby, pushing through something I once couldn’t get a tampon in, and I was like, “You GO, sister!”
I wanted to give her a standing ovation. You ROCKED that. You pushed that baby out like a hero!! I wanted to send the clips to all of my friends and post them on Facebook. (I resisted the urge.) I’m still scared of birth. I can’t actually imagine myself doing that. But the interesting thing was that what I learned really didn’t have a whole lot to do with having a baby. I was left with the general sense that my body is really fundamentally, essentially, inherently awesome. Not because of the details of its dimensions or the specifics of its measurements, but because of its basic capabilities. Because of its basic femininity.
Like, even if I never actually have a baby, my body is badass. I’ve written about this before, but it’s funny how when Bear compliments me, often the things he points out are really generic. “You’re so warm!” is the big one. He mixes it up, though. “You’re so soft…” “You have boobs!” Well, hooray for that. In the beginning of our relationship, it used to bother me a tiny bit. Like, “Um, yeah, I am warm. I’m alive. Can you be more specific, please? For example, I have a really defined philtrum.”
(maybe i should pierce it for extra emphasis…source)
Bear thinks I’m totally hot. He likes my details. But sometimes the stuff that seems to attract and interest and comfort him the most are the things about me that have nothing to do with my beauty or my uniqueness. They have to do with my basic femininity/humanity. I have been learning for most of my life that the details are critical. The line of my jaw, the space between my eyes, my exact weight—I lost two pounds! YES!!! I AM A CHAMPION! I gained two pounds, kill me now—It’s like I’m a show dog. Or at least, I want to be. “Oh dear, oh dear,” says the first judge, pulling back my lips and shaking her head sorrowfully.
“The teeth are too long. She is pet quality, I’m afraid.” My family’s dog when I was growing up was “pet quality.” Her family had a bunch of star show dogs in it, and she, the runt of the litter, spun frantically in tight, counterclockwise circles for most of her life, trying desperately to run but never going anywhere, her sweet eyes wide with exertion. She hadn’t made the cut. Her ears were not pointy enough, and the diamond on her forehead didn’t have the kind of definition the judges were looking for.
Like so many women and girls, I have spent a lot of time and money trying to improve my looks in little ways, convinced that it’d make a big difference. All it took was an eyebrow threading, and now she’s practically Megan Fox’s better-looking older sister! God knows what took her so long. She wasted years, trapped in the body of a Neanderthal-eyebrowed woman with no hope and no future and only a fight or flight instinct to guide her through the complexities of the modern world. I am basically still waiting for the right tinted moisturizer to transform my splotchy, disobedient skin into a radiant veil of transcendent loveliness.
I shall glow from within, from without! If I wasn’t so intimidated by Sephora, I might already look like a friggin’ angel, right now, in this lightly stained t-shirt that used to be my brother’s and these crusty pajama pants.
(you just paint it on! so simple! source)
Maybe it’s a conspiracy. If we believe that our beauty is in the details, we’ll keep buying tubs of tinted moisturizer and vats of mascara and truckloads of lipstick and breasts implants and dieting books. Maybe it’s only partly a conspiracy of capitalism, and mostly it’s about misogyny—girls and women are compressed to the size of their physical appearances, so we need to compete by distinguishing ourselves based on that.
There could be a biological component. Mating! Fertility! Who looks the most like they have ripe, sexy ovaries? Me! Me! I do! My hair is the shiniest! I find myself not caring so much about the explanation, since no one seems to have any real idea.I just want us to stop getting caught in the net of the consequences of our cultural obsession with beauty. One way to do that is to appreciate our similarities. One way to do that is to appreciate our basic sex appeal. Our basic, consistent femininity. Bear is very impressed with me for having breasts. “No, no,” I tried to explain to him, “They’re not good breasts. They’re little! See how they’re little?”
He didn’t care. “They’re perfect,” he said, over and over, until I realized that what he meant was “they are breasts, and that is what I like about them.” “I’m getting softer because I’m gaining weight,” I patiently explained. “Soon I’m going to be fat, probably. See how chubby my arms are?” But he liked that, too.
Because the softness felt nice and made him happy. He could rest his head on it. And of course, most importantly, I keep on generating heat, without even trying. Just like a world-class mammal, I am warm. Watching those birth videos made me think that we spend way too much time thinking about what sets us apart from each other, what makes us look a little bit more like a movie star or what might make us look a little bit better than we already look.
There is something so powerful about what we already are. I might have to rethink my relationship with my vagina. And with the rest of me. There is something so sexy about the fact that I have these breasts. They are perfect, really. Not because of how they fit into the cosmic ranking systems for boobs, with God up there merrily squeezing and measuring and filing the data. Not because if Megan Fox took off her top for Playboy and so did I the readers immediately start chanting, “Kate WINS! Kate! Kate! Kate KA-ATE!” But because I have them. And they are soft. And I am warm.
(pshh! Ain’t no thang! I can do it in my sleep. source) * * *
Do you ever catch yourself feeling sexy just for being alive?
Unroast: Today I really do love my philtrum. When I just look at it, and let the rest of me go blurry, I think, “Perfect!” P.S. While on my birth kick, I went to see Birth Story, the documentary about Ina May Gaskin‘s life and work. It was amazing. Just had to give it a shout out. I actually watched a breech birth without covering my eyes, and then I applauded at the end of it. I went to see it with a friend who isn’t even close to thinking about having her own babies– she’s single and busily figuring her career out. And we both cried.
And when we came out of the theater, we were like, “WE ARE WOMEN!!!!” How did we never know how strong and fantastically skilled our specifically feminine bodies are? How did no one tell us? And here’s another picture of an arctic fox, because they are so damn cute:
This article was originally published on November 19, 2012 and can be seen here.