When I was a little girl I was obsessed with puff sleeves and still had the notion that I could draw which I mostly exhibited in church services. One day my mother looked at father and they covered my sheet. They made a comment to the other that it was shameful and I was embarrassed. They had thought I had been drawing large breasts on all my little sketches but left it at that. I was too ashamed to explain I was drawing puff sleeves and they never asked just assumed.
They were more worried that others would perceive their seven year old drawing pictures of breasts than about what was going through my head and how I meant perceive the situation. But are my parents to blame or is the culture of ‘traditional’ society that they have been immersed into blame? It is a culture that made my mother freak out when I took off my sweater and was prancing around Canadian Tire at eight or nine in a tank top. She condemned me for my indecent behaviour and told me that my clothing was too revealing. That she should not have allowed me to wear it out of the house. Was I really wearing revealing clothing as a prepubescent child? I would argue that as a woman showing off my shoulders and collar bones does not make me me look like a ‘whore.’ Yet we blame young girls for their indecent dress? As teenagers and women we speak about not causing others to stumble but if someone was having lustful thoughts about my 55 pound body in a tank top then I was not the one who needed to change my behaviour. Yet this was not a one time instance neither is it one that was unique to me or my family.
The thing that bothers me most is that not only is this behaviour accepted it is often promoted especially in Christian circles. We don’t talk about sexuality unless it is the big bad in why the world in going to hell. Or we use it to blame men and boys and to shame women and girls. This was my first experience with sexuality and it definitely did not paint the picture of true intimacy and a special bond of marriage. It taught be that I was an object. More than that my body was sinful and that my condemnation would only grow as I developed into an adolescent and eventually a woman. Why wasn’t I and other girls taught to honour our bodies not for fear of shame but for beauty and love? We need to teach girls to be comfortable in their bodies not guilty of them!