Growing up, as the only girl in a large family of boys, I never was treated like fine china. I got to play with the boys of the family from a young age and they liked when I would be rough and tumble with them (and I would have been very offended if they would have taken it easy on me in aspect of growing up). Even in preschool, I would be sent home with a note, sometimes more than one during the week, for playing to hard with other children. I just could not wrap my mind about the other girls being so fragile as the teachers and instructors were supposing that they were. This is the first time I really had to deal with editing myself in a way as to not be ‘so hard on my friends’ so physically.
I found out, when I was about seven, that ‘girls were not supposed to play like the boys’. I remember being heart broken. I didn’t want to sit in the grass and play with the dolls that the girls brought from home on a pretty day. I would have much rather be queen of the fort with the boys playing as my army.
I wore extremely girly clothing during the years of my pre-schooling but I remember a distinct change in the way I would dress when I found out that ‘girls were supposed to play with dolls and boys were supposed to play in the dirt.’ I wanted to play in the dirt with the boys, so I started dressing like one of my many young boy friends and I would continue to play with the boys while receiving snide remarks from the girls my age and older for being ‘one of the boys’. But to me, I had always been one of the boys.
It was not until I decided to give myself a hair cut that I really started to dress in a feminine fashion again. I would be confused as a boy so many times that I would get my feelings hurt to the point that I would be crying if a server at a restaurant would ask my mother, “What would he like for dinner?” I was never quite about correcting them about my sex, ‘IN FACT I AM A GIRL!’, then I decided to grow my hair back out and into a long mess of curls. The problem of being confused as a boy ended around my twelfth birthday, when one morning I woke up with rather sizable breasts.
I would still play with the boys, and to this day I still have more male friends than I have female friends. I just feel more comfortable being my loud and space taking self around those people who are ‘socially accepted’ for doing the same.
As the phenomenology of the feminine body and comportment states, women are trained from a young age to take up less space in life. This has always has always been in foul taste with me. I never saw myself in need to make myself smaller until I became aware that my sizable chest would get me so much attention from the other sex. This became an issue for me when I entered High School. I started dressing in a fashion of very baggy clothing and hiding what ‘my mother had given me’, with the exception of school dances. My mother didn’t understand why I felt so self conscious about my body and the fact that I kept the remarks that were made about my chest to myself didn’t help.
Junior year however, I got the position of Field Commander of the high school band. I was once again in my element, I could, and was recommended to take up as much space as I needed so the whole band on the field could see the counts of music. I started to become more self-aware and I started to love my body again. I got to spread out each and everyday on the practice field and the on Friday nights I would get to preform in front of the entire stadium. It was so empowering to have all of those players on the field depending on me for the beats to every song.
In some way’s I agree that with Iris Marion Young and other writers who address the issue of comportment in women. I can see walking to and from class everyday women trying their hardest to take up as little room as possible while walking on the sidewalk. Many of the women have their arms crossed in front of them holding things or have their arms held closely to their bodies.
The only time I don’t see women constantly comporting and changing their bodies is when they are with either: A. a male friend, who could possibly be their partner or B. when they are with people that they know that their body image is not in constant watch. I have only been really paying close attention to the people around me and how they carry themselves for the past week, but in that time the same patterns occur. Women are trying to make themselves smaller and the men don’t seem to have a care about what they wear or what they look like.
Finally, looking back on my women’s experience up to now, I have seen many ups and downs within myself esteem. When I was little, as noted above, I got to be rough and tumble with my male cousins and I was embraced as the person that I was growing up to be not as the only female in my family. Then as time went on I began to fall victim to comportment. By allowing others opinions of miss speakings rule my world I changed myself into what I thought would be most socially acceptable. Then I finally came into my own, knowing who I was (for the most part, I am learning more about myself everyday) and what I wanted to do. And for me, being motivated by my goals is highly more important than being motivated by my looks.