The Body of the Issue

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Curvy

// by Anonymous

I was curvy in high school — and I liked it. I treasured the looks my friends exchanged when I was the first to announce I had outgrown my training bras. I cherished my nickname, bouncing off lockers whenever I bent down to grab a book or to tie my sneaker: “baDONK!” I even enjoyed the rosy color my face turned when my grandfather announced during Thanksgiving that I was “voluptuous.” I was comfortable with the way my hips swayed when I walked, with the way shirts fit me. Cosmo told me that “curvy” should be paired with a picture of a chubby woman, and I’d just turn the page.

I am still curvy. My body hasn’t changed much in the last few years — but that word has. I’m at Yale, and the girls are stick-thin. “Curvy” is no longer what women wish to look like; it is suddenly associated with words I hadn’t thought about before. I look at my thighs in the mirror. I want jutting collarbones. I watch the salads my friends eat — I control my portions. But I know that I’ll never look that way. My efforts are in vain. My body will never be flat on both sides.

I miss the way I used to look at that word, but now all I can think about is how that word looks.

B.m.i.

// by MARTINA CROUCH

(i)

i’ve seen so many girls here

staggering around

pencil-legged, heeled

as if by horseshoes

a few with their thighs

not on talking terms,

too afraid to touch.

from time to time they foreshadow

the bird-boned porcelains gliding

down runways like fleets

of clouds or

languishing

across glossy magazine

duvets,

lips gleaming ripe as fruit,

the hint of teeth

a glazed confectionary.

(ii)

there are moments when

i tread this place as if

trespassing;

feel as if i am

bruising my footsteps into the soil, searching out

every lioness that

lost herself to

this savannah.

on warm yellow days,

when skirts hitch highest,

i become unexpected, wild:

an invasion of tree roots

unearthing all the tulips and

riddling their beds with holes

in search of some underground

victory.

Contact MARTINA CROUCH at

martina.crouch@yale.edu .

Skinny Aaron

// by aaron Gertler

If you could have seen Skinny Aaron at the end of my senior season of cross-country, you wouldn’t have recognized him. Also, if you were looking at him from the side, you might have missed him.

Running without any air resistance was certainly efficient, but after the season ended, I decided to try something new. Weightlifting took the stress off my weary joints, but didn’t help much until I remembered to eat like a teenage boy. By February, I was three-dimensional again, and, with enough coaxing and bowls of oatmeal, managed to pack on a little volume (and oddly, a lot of density — there’s now at least 15 percent more Aaron per cubic inch). Through every stage of growth, I’d still frown at this body in the mirror, beg my abs to come out of hiding and resist the urge to throw shoes at the TV when Ryan Gosling’s “Crazy Stupid Love” ad came on. But lately, college has taken the worry out of me — partially because I don’t have the time to fret, and partially because I’ve realized that my failure to seduce anyone wasn’t just a function of my countable ribs.

My physical form still frustrates me — mostly when I wake from three hours of sleep to find that my acne has broken the truce we signed the night before. But for the first time since puberty, I’m satisfied with my silhouette. Once in a blue moon, I’ll green with envy at the sight of a football player who’s been bench-pressing since the age of eight. Still, workouts and meals (Salad! Meat! MORE SALAD!) finally take care of themselves. I’ve stopped counting calories, and I’m learning to refine my social skills, a stiffer challenge than sculpting my shoulders. Body image is only half the battle.

Contact aaron gertler at

aaron.gertler@yale.edu .

Surviving Bodies

// by hilary o’connell

When we as women speak of body image — and we so rarely speak of it outside a feminized context — we rarely consider the ways in which body image is so wrapped up in gender image. Pick up any “women’s” magazine and you’ll see that concerns about the health of our bodies and minds are secondary to concerns about the size-shape-color-softness-smoothness of our thighs, stomachs, breasts and legs — the bodily features we’re told dictate our capacity for feminine sexuality.

We are so tied to a particular vision of what it means to inhabit a female body that we often forget the incredible capacity of our bodies to transcend female/male, feminine/masculine, woman/man dichotomies and simply exist.

We forget that our bodies’ remarkable capacities to survive are not tied to an inch of weight loss around our waists, or the length and thickness of our eyelashes. When we look in the mirror and see nothing but arbitrary flaws, we continue to idealize a heteronormative Barbie doll, leaving no room for the sexuality, survival and celebration of bodies of differing race, orientation, weight, ability and so on. And to what end?

My body before Yale was a war zone of insecurities and fears — a site of self-loathing and self-shaming undeniably tied to my discomfort with the type of woman I was (and am) “supposed” to be. And the obsession with the thin, blonde, hairless body — which still permeates Yale’s predominantly heteronormative culture — has done no productive work to fight these fears.

But to realize on my own while at Yale — particularly within queer communities at Yale — that my body need not conform to Barbie womanhood but rather represent my own gendered experience (complete with curves, muscles, chopped-off hair, easily burned skin and a weight which is in continual flux) allowed me to rise above my shame.

I celebrate my body and its experiences. I celebrate its capacity for adaptation. I celebrate its ability to stretch out a skintight dress. And I am grateful for the increasing disconnect between my idea of womanhood and the reflection in the mirror. Contrary to my beliefs as a 15-year-old, I don’t want to be a Barbie doll — I’m far too fond of my surviving body as it is.

Contact HILARY O’CONNELL at

hilary.oconnell@yale.edu .

‘I just came from practice’

// by JENNA HESSERT

Managing body image as a female athlete can be challenging at times. Yes, we work out every day, so most people may think we never have to consider how we look, or how others perceive us. This is not entirely true. Athletes here are held to certain standards when it comes to image. We are held accountable to have the body type of the stereotypical athlete for our respective sports. As a track runner, I should be lean, have a strong core and powerful legs. I wish that people described me that way. In the dining hall, I can’t help but feel judged as I go get a bowl of ice cream or the second (or third?) brownie. I can almost hear peoples’ thoughts: She runs track — shouldn’t she be getting a salad instead? Do you think she’s even that fast? In regards to clothing, I feel pretty comfortable wearing sweats to class. However, I still find myself making the “well, I just came from practice … ” excuse, which really means “I am sorry I don’t look as put together as I possibly could for someone that goes to Yale.”

Here, everyone is so focused on success. As an athlete, I measure that in competitions won, points scored for my team and new personal bests. And due to a competitive nature, I tend to take any failures pretty hard. When I don’t run well, it’s easy to blame my body for my poor performance. In general, my teammates are supportive whether or not I am in a slump. I think we all understand the struggles that each of us faces with body perception that in turn can greatly impact our self-confidence. I still feel the eyes of others watching me, judging my actions. But with my teammates beside me, I can be a little more comfortable about who I am. So, about that third brownie …

Contact JENNA HESSERT at

jenna.hessert@yale.edu .

Dirty

// by ANONYMOUS

I just want to be dirty on my own terms.

When one’s identity comes with prepackaged notions of exotic sexuality, it is difficult to unwrap yourself from the skin you live in. See, I’m an Asian girl. Small build, long dark hair, almond-shaped eyes, brown skin — the works. And there’s a whole jumble of stereotypes that comes with this body. You should hear the things men have said to me.

“You’re pretty, but like — not in a typically Asian way.”

“Can I [expletive] your [adjective] Asian [expletive]?”

“You’re the first Asian I’ve ever hooked up with.”

“You’re like opium.”

“What?”

“Like, it’s more fitting than heroin because you’re Asian.”

But seriously, what? This is what my body goes through. This is how my body is read. It’s a little ridiculous.

There is forever an element of race to it, and with that race come stereotypes of fantasies that aren’t mine and that I don’t want to fulfill. I become Asian girl even if I’m just striving for witty girl or writer girl or silly girl or even “your girl.” I become Asian girl in shorthand, as a reference; I become Asian girl in dirty talk; I become Asian girl even intimately.

I am rarely just “girl.” Me. Simply. And though I love the skin I’m in I can’t get past it — this hair, these eyes make me exotic. An object. All of a sudden every interaction becomes about who’s in control of my sexuality: is it me, or is it you? Whose fantasy is this, anyway? Maybe I do want to be a body. Maybe I will be a body for you.

But the skin I live in is just one part of who I am. It won’t be because I’m Asian.

I’ll be dirty on my own terms.

Assets

// by ALYSSA NAVARRO

Anyone who knows me also knows how much I love my ass. It comes as no surprise that the first playlist on my iPod is called “Booty Tunes,” or that my favorite song is Soulja Boy’s “Donk.” Ask my friends to imitate my dancing and you will definitely see some booty bumping. This allows me the privilege of proudly displaying a small sticker on my door that reads “Booty Bump Ahead.”

My appreciation for my assets has stemmed from my culture. As the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and a half Mexican father, I’ve basically been indoctrinated to appreciate Latina curves, especially my butt. When I was young, my family would always comment on the size of my behind in a positive light. As I flourished into a woman, my female cousins would often give me a slap on the butt, telling me how jealous they were. My butt became the symbol of my pride and identity, something I can never and will never part with.

Until I came to Yale, I did not really realize that loving my ass was some type of novelty. In high school, it wasn’t uncommon for my friends and me to compliment each other saying, “damn girl, your ass look good in those jeans” or “you should definitely get that dress — it makes your ass look good.” Loving my booty was never a question but a given. And that’s the way it should be.

So Yalies, next time you’re at Toad’s, I hope you’ll embrace your ass. Shake that booty.

Contact ALYSSA NAVARRO at

alyssa.navarro@yale.edu .

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