RECLAIMING OUR BODIES

Years ago, you and your body have made acquaintance and have, since then, built up a close relationship. You were born into your body and the two of you grew up together. In the beginning your skin felt soft and you were fascinated by your own hands. You taught your body how to walk and your body told you when to sleep or cry. In summers you could feel your body sweat and in the winter your body would make you shiver. Your legs have carried you along all the remarkable roads you have walked in your life, your arms have met your favorite people in the world and your mouth has kissed to send butterflies to your stomach. Your body was there for your first time and your body went with you on your last day of school. Nothing is as intimate as this. There were some bumps in the road, sure, but no matter how complicated or troublesome, there will always be that intimate relationship. Your body could not match with how you feel inside, you could feel alienated by your genitals, uncomfortable because of your appearance or your body could not work the way you feel it should work. Maybe sometimes you take your body for granted; you don’t take good care of it or you are simply not aware that your body needs to be handled with care. Every body has its own requirements, flaws and charm. You’ve learned about each other’s shortcomings and you’re in the process of forgiving and growing further together even when this might hurt or exhaust you. What’s most important is: You have been the one building this relationship; you are behind the countless attempts of befriending your body, then fighting it and making up to your body. You can criticize your body, push your body, admire your body and know your body unlike anybody else.

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Since the beginning of time, femmes’ bodies have been under moral surveillance. The bible told women that our bodies were temples, and that our value is directly linked by what we choose to do with it. The choice is not ours, as we should be grateful for the body we have received from god. Women who have wombs have been told that their body is a host; your most important task is to create life and when unwanted life is accidentally created, it is more important than your autonomy over your body. You and your body are policed to disrupt your relationship; abandon your work-in-progress and sacrifice yourselves to the moral task of delivering a child. You and your body are pushed around by beauty standards who brutally interrupt your conversations with your body and point you to your fat and your body hair. You and your body are tossed around by gender norms who scream at you what your body is and what it is not. Your body is physically altered either directly or indirectly by your surroundings; there are intrusions and aggressions and your body changes in the process. You’re left with bruises, scars, marks and bumps. You’re left with associations and trauma’s. When you’re faced with that one part of your body, it makes you cringe, fills you with sorrow or regret. You’re the one who has to pick up all the pieces and put them back together, bring back the love and comfort in yours and your body’s affair. You have to reclaim your property, your home, your friend: Your body.

Text: Tessel ten Zweege
Images: Imke van Haaff

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