I was brought up in a middle class family in Southern California where we didn’t discuss anything body-related. In fact, when I first got my period I was so embarrassed I hid it from my parents for over 6 months.
I didn’t date until I graduated high school, again because I was too embarrassed to broach the subject of sex with my parents, and they didn’t seem to want to push the topic either.
I was a reasonably active girl; I danced and was in gymnastics until I was in my mid 20’s, and people always told me I was pretty, but I couldn’t get a date to save my life. I even went stag to the senior prom… by the time I started college I had completely given up hope of ever getting a boyfriend, since every guy I had asked out had turned me down. I had resigned myself to being the “really cool aunt” or “the crazy cat lady”. I had a reasonable body and reasonable good looks, but I was completely unsure of myself. I hid my breasts as much as I could, wore baggy clothing, wore my hair simply in a braid or ponytail and did what I could to be androgynous. I was even too self conscious to masturbate or do anything of that sort, despite knowing lots of details from more experienced, older friends.
When I was 19, I had a life-changing experience- I got my first boyfriend. He was attracted to me through my ugly clothes and lack of makeup. He saw my body as curvy and beautiful, and after several months he began to teach me to appreciate myself in many, many different ways. He even went with me to Planned Parenthood for years when I went to get my birth control, until I was able to get health insurance.
A couple years later, we started working at the local Renaissance Faire- what better place to learn to take a complement and love your body! Within a year I had joined an acting group where I portrayed an Elizabethan harlot… quite a jump from the naive virgin I was 2 years earlier!
I ended up becoming the director of the group, did a TON of research on women and the dichotomy between the acceptance of prostitution during the Renaissance and the oppression of married women. Meanwhile, I learned even more to appreciate not only my beautiful body, but the variety of wonderful, encouraging, vivacious women I had befriended.
After dating my boyfriend for 7 years he asked me to be his wife. We were married October of ’07, and I have completely and totally learned to love every curve, crevasse and crease of my body. I am not skinny. My breasts are not huge. My stomach is not flat and tight. I love walking around the house naked: I am Rubenesque and damned proud of it!
I still direct and work the Renaissance Faire, and am constantly doing research on women’s history throughout the ages. I have surrounded myself with incredible women and men who believe in beauty in every form. In fact, our war cry (for lack of a better phrase) is “Flapdoodle”, which is a slang term from the late 1400’s/early 1500’s for a women’s vagina- it’s a great word for confusing people, and it’s fun to say!
If I ever have children, I know how to learn from the mistakes that my family made. It’s been centuries that women have been taught to be embarrassed of their bodies, so long that it’s almost an inherited trait. I am so glad to be living in an era where we are just starting to be able to reclaim the power and love that we were afforded in the Ancient Greek and Egyptian times, where women can be different shapes and colors and still be beautiful, sexy and intelligent.
Viva la Vulva! FLAPDOODLE!!!