I was 15 years old. The pulse of music reverberated against the cold cement on which I sat. Swarms of newly pubescent boys, clumsily and madly kissed their new finds from an hour prior. The air smelt like hotdogs and beer. My insides burned. I desired to be wanted, to be lusted over. My head began to feverishly bob back and forth. My peppermint breath labored and my skin began to prickle like burnt grass. I waited. I waited. I waited. The clock mocked me as hours passed. And then it happened. I saw him. He had jet black hair that matched his eyes. His fingers where pencil thin. He walked within a cloud of cheap musk cologne towards me. My world began to decolor. I could feel my heartbeat within my groin. This was it.
“Hey” he moaned.
I stared blankly paralyzed in fear and lust.
“Hey”, he repeated with more gusto.
“Breathe” I mumbled to myself.
I lifted my innocent grey eyes to meet his.
“Hi” I said, “my name is Tammin”
“Hey Tammin”, “ I’m Steve. And I want to tell you something”.
My heart stopped. I had daydreamed for years that this moment would come.
“Yes?” I fumbled to say
“You need to go to Jenny Craig”
I was 17 years old and I sat on the floor of a antique bathroom in Italy. I had spent the last 40 minutes ramming my chapped and raw knuckles down my throat. I knew this routine well. I had become an expert at lying. Swirling within the bowl were six fluorescent braces bands dancing like tropical fish. My fingers stung as they dove in to the oily water. It didn’t matter though, for secrets kept me warm at night. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw my eyes, they looked like they were bleeding. I smiled weakly at my reflection. I was 100 pounds. Now people would love me.
I was 21 years old and he was 30. He smelt like sweat and promise and kissed me deep and long. He had movie star hair and bleached teeth and always called me “babe”. He would take me back to his house, that was bought with his parents money, and let me share a place for my toothbrush. I overlooked the fact that he chose to talk about me looking like an Olsen twin with my large forehead and failing arms because I was taught in school, boys that like you, do that. I waited up for him when he would leave for days to find himself. When he would eventually return he would ask me to take my clothes off. To which I always obliged. Because, again, I was taught it was the right thing to do. He would then while he proceed to have his way with me, pause for long enough, just to say “Your stretch marks are getting better.”
I was 30 years old. I had just given birth to my first child. I would brush my hot skin with the tips of my fingers. They would fall into the grooves on my stomach that looked like map of Venice. I cried salty, plump tears. Was I now deformed? I had spent the last 30 years being told that the only way to happiness, worth and love was for other people to view my body as good enough. I had let my body be objectified by the hands of men, I had let my worth be valued by the headlines of the media, I had let other people’s opinions bathed in hate define the way I viewed myself. For too long. Not anymore.
As I sit here and lament over the last 2 days I have come to the realization that we as a society have made the objectification of the female form something we have become accustomed to. We view women as sexual objects that are ours to puppet and play with. We do not celebrate the real value of a women. Her body that feeds and houses her child and ultimately births them. The parts of her body that are used for creation we hide and censor it, for it creates fear in our mind of what we have been taught is bad or sexual or wrong. We can do better. We must do better.
I have spent the good part of 30 years hating my body. I can’t get that time back. But my children can. I will not let opinions that are coated in other people’s insecurities disempower who my daughter’s are and will be. And it starts with me.
Much love to you all,