Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

In the Buff

According to a completely unscientific poll from USAToday, something like 1 in 14 married people do not let their spouses view them in the nude. Not during sex, not taking a shower, not changing clothes. A cheek here, a patch there, but either by cloak of darkness, cover of sheet or protection of daytime dress these women (it’s always women, the beer gut knows no shame in the heat of Georgia summer) are so insecure that even under the protection of their most intimate relationship, they cannot bear the thought of another human being gazing on their raw humanity.

The title of the segment addressing this issue on Q100’s The Bert Show, a syndicated morning talk show airing in Nashville and Atlanta, was “Are you Normal?” They took call after call from Southern women whose husbands had never seen them nude, or not in 10 years or 30 years or 5 years.

What in Bob’s name is going on here? 1 in 14, even unscientifically, means there’s an excellent chance that all of us know someone who suffers from a body image so poor that they cannot make love to their spouse without fear.

We have normalized self-hate.

I hear over and over that men do not care, that our flaws are bearing their weight inside our own heads, that stretch marks and blemishes glaring back at us in the mirror are as invisible to the male cranium as the bright red circle around the anniversary on the family calendar.

Really? Hmmm. Because I smell a fucking rat and it stinks of patriarchal justification about as old as cosmetics and not nearly as flattering.

Have we really done this to ourselves, ladies? I have to tell ya, and maybe I’m a jaded, over-liberalized, female student of sociology that can’t view the world without finding the Boogey WASP around every corner, but I think this is the combined product of hundreds of years of misogynistic social education that belittles and undermines us from the time we are born and haunts us until we work our creaking bodies into our graves.

I think…well, you tell me. I recall hearing about a poll asking men when women begin to lose their looks. Most common response? 30. Thirty freaking years old. Are you kidding me? I had trouble finding the poll online, so I just poked around on Yahoo! Answers and the British opinion articles. I read everything from 20 years old to 60, but the sheer fact that anyone would put a solid number on such a thing…

We have owned the misogyny. Criticizing the flaws in each other to the point where little girls are anorexic and murdering themselves over middle school spats, the Mean Girl culture fully ingrained in our educational system. The difference between the cover of Cosmo and Maxim are what, exactly? Yeah, I can’t really think of much either.

When the singledadlaughing wrote about Perfection last week, he was writing to this issue and many others like it. Can we stop to realize that most of us are not a size 6, that the stretch marks you bear from your babies are beautiful, that the pendulous way your breasts swing is sexy and that the way you walk will make him (or her) swoon if we can ever stop criticizing ourselves into a corner that we can’t get out of.
I’m a victim of myself, just like every other woman I know. A nearly 50lbs loss wasn’t enough; I really just need to ditch 30 more. Why? Because I spent all of my early 20s under a size 8 and I can’t understand this trick that nature is playing on me. It’s a hateful thing, maturity; it fills out your brain…and your body. Embracing it just isn’t a part of our modern society. We chase 23 with the veracity of the cougar, yet never clinch on to the cougars we should proudly become.

Written by thelittlepecan

October 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Posted in atheism

16 Responses

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  1. Actually, I was not being condescending at all, just mentioning it has never occurred to me to make those sorts of comparisons. Simply because I am pretty oblivious to even noticing it in the first place to compare it to anything. If you never even notice something, how do you make comparisons regarding it? I have read your post six times and I still cannot process what exactly you are trying to say there in any way that relates to what I said. For whatever it is worth, I don't wear make-up because I hate the smell of it all, and I just do not have the patience to fool with it, nor the understanding of why so many people feel it's not just necessary, it is VITAL. The idea of not wearing it because why bother, I can't be "that kind of beautiful" has never crossed my mind at all. I wear the clothes I wear for me, and if you don't like them, you are free to wear what pleases you (you-general you) rather than what pleases me. Although I certainly will not get very close if I have to risk touching a lot of exposed skin. I only have about 8 people on my touch list, so I probably won't get that close if I can avoid it anyway. And that is equal-opportunity, male or female.I have sensory issues with my gender that most NT females do not have to worry about. I don't like to touch or be touched, most girls — in my experience — really like to touch. And hug. And other forms of excessive physical affection. Most want to wear make-up and perfume that I am hyper-sensitive to the reeking odor of. Most see everything another girl says to a guy as flirting (and every guy seems to interpret conversation as a prelude to more, too, but that is another topic, I'm sure.) Most have asked at one time or another to borrow my brush or X type of make-up or some other girlie accoutrement and have been so visibly shocked or horrified that I had no such animal in my possession that even I could not help but notice. Although the ridicule helps drive that home. It's not that I lack sensory issues with guys, but really, there are not as many and none of them are usually as overwhelming as dealing with females. I have enough trouble trying to keep from being completely overwhelmed by sensory bombardment in social situations as it is. Trying to juggle all the insane levels of social dance steps and actually interact and have a conversation all at once is simply impossible. I have no idea how "normal" people manage all that. Not saying they do it perfectly, but I know they do it, because of how often everyone points out what I don't do, or when I do it wrong.


    November 8, 2010 at 5:35 am

  2. Pecking order of women and girls……very different from that of boys. Pecking orders suck.

    Mother Phoenix

    October 9, 2010 at 1:11 am

  3. i was there that day. we did have theory together. and you are right…


    October 7, 2010 at 12:21 pm

  4. Roachie….


    October 7, 2010 at 12:20 pm

  5. Faith, are you speaking to me or to Roachie?Faith you weren't in my Theory class (unfortunately) but I remember when I brought up the fact that women dress up at the club not for me, but for each other. You would have thought I'd have rewritten the laws of gravity for the pin drop silence in the room. My male colleagues were all but offended at the notion and it's truth.


    October 7, 2010 at 1:41 am

  6. I, myself, have always gravitated toward the male of our species when it comes to friendship. I have never fancied myself the girlie type, although I have given it the old college try. Perhaps this is because I do not believe that I meet society's standards for true beauty – not then and not now. As a result, I do not feel comfortable going through the rituals that most women perform b/c no matter how much makeup I wear, no matter the style or color of my hair, I am still not, by society's standards, beautiful. I may not understand other women or why they do the things they do, but I do recognize a struggle when I see one and I see one in all of them, including you. It is not my intent to attack – pleae do not take this as such. I simply want to point out that even you in your macho manner are struggling. So, don't be condescending towards others when they posit that women judge each other. We have put ourselves in competition with one another, without recognizing what we have done. And for what? For what are we in competition? Men? Women? Attention? The title of most beautiful? Smartest? What? What makes you feel good about yourself? What I feel the little pecan is saying and what i feel others here are saying is that we do not have to be judged by society. To stop accepting the "norms" of appearance would free us to stop judging others, thereby stopping the judgement of ourselves.


    October 7, 2010 at 1:08 am

  7. When was the last time you found yourself thinking, “God, I don’t want to look like my mother.” Or “I feel so sorry for _____. She just can’t seem to lose those extra pounds.”I have to laugh. It has never in my life occurred to me think anything of the sort. Sometimes brain damage (and extreme male brain syndrome) is a wonderful thing. Although it is also true you'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger misogynist than me. I find the majority of my gender so bizarre, and I cannot relate to very many of them at all.


    October 5, 2010 at 3:22 am

  8. Real women love real women. Keep it real.


    October 5, 2010 at 2:38 am

  9. I am so impressed with your writing young sociologist! What the "others” (i.e. the neo-Marxist masses) don't realize is that most of American women don’t see themselves as a “self” but rather a socially constructed mirror image of an idealized and completely unrealistic self. Perhaps Cooley’s Looking Glass Self was more prophetic than any of us could have imagined. This newly manufactured self is more and more a simulacrum of our true identity as teen girls get boob jobs when they become “Sweet Sixteen.” And, where do I fit into this media driven social construction as I near a significant birthday? Well, lately I too have found myself falling victim to the misogynistic values of a patriarchal society. I’ve reached that time in my life when a little muffin is a very natural thing; I just don’t like it staring back at me in the mirror. But as much as I would love to blame “The Man” I have to ask how many of us need to look at ourselves and our womyn friends. As a feminist and a lesbian I love the female body in its many forms. Fortunately, I have a partner who feels the same. But, have we gone beyond the internalization of patriarchy to externalizing our fears and prejudices onto our female friends and family? When was the last time you found yourself thinking, “God, I don’t want to look like my mother.” Or “I feel so sorry for _____. She just can’t seem to lose those extra pounds.” While it is good to ask ourselves why we are allowing a male dominated society to reconstruct or self-image, let us also ask what we are doing to each other. Goddess help us.


    October 5, 2010 at 2:32 am

  10. I am naked all the time at home lol.


    October 5, 2010 at 2:16 am

  11. Squishy and icky. For sure. BUT, I've found that even though my body may get squishier and ickier the sex gets more phenomenal. Weird.


    October 5, 2010 at 1:18 am

  12. This is very well written. I especially like the last line. I want to be a cougar! ; )For years I was also very ashamed at what my body had done to me. It got all fat and squishy and icky. I went from looking, naturally and quite easily (no dieting, or extra exercise) very slender and healthy, to looking like the ancient "Earth Goddess" statues that are all boobs and hips and very little else.Self loathing is not helpful, though. Nor is it healthy.

    Mother Phoenix

    October 5, 2010 at 1:02 am

  13. You say that like that is a bad thing. But seriously, while I do have sensory issues with nekkid in general(and this is not the sort of overshare I usually indulge in) I did appear naked before satan before and during our marriage. I guess I really don't understand the concept of deciding you are intimately involved and connected enough to invest in the commitment of an allegedly permanent relationship and yet NOT be emotionally intimate enough to be that physically intimate. If that makes sense. Suddenly I think I got lost and may need a golden thread to find my way back. It's sort of like sex overall. Although intimacy can be harder to achieve than mere sex. Still,if you aren't able to talk about it with your partner, you aren't old enough to be doing it. Even if you are 40 or 60. Similarly, if you aren't able to be fully exposed with someone (emotionally as well as physically), WHY are you in a fully intimate relationship with him or her?


    October 5, 2010 at 12:47 am

  14. Real men DO love real women. And real women love real men! Keep it real, always.


    October 5, 2010 at 12:42 am

  15. I know some men are that shallow- cuz until I left the college athletic world I thought that an extremely fit woman was the only acceptable object of desire for a man.. it destroyed me for a looong time- cuz as soon as I left the sports world I made myself fat because I thought no one liked *me* only my presentation to the world (I am a former model too) and I didn't like me- so why would I keep myself in a way that others might like??.. I have found that real men like real women.. and I like me too!! The curves and scars of womanhood are part of the process and I have earned them- I am proud of my other scars- why not those??!!! Thanks Alana for some thought provoking writing…


    October 5, 2010 at 12:26 am

  16. first – your writing is amazing. second – it is ridiculously sad that women feel this way – I, myself, have felt this way at times. Thankfully, I have a wonderful and patient husband who is very unlike the patriarchal male of our society …- ask anyone. He has helped me to realize that my mind, too, has been inundated with this ridiculous propaganda from an early age and, because of this, I have the self esteem of, well, something that grows on the underside of a rock in the middle of a dense forest that has been covered in the manure of wild pigs and never sees the light of day. I tell myself that I am ok just as i am – my very belief system tells me that I am good enough. The problem is that voice in my head that says you are not enough. Your husband is a man and men want __________ (fill in the blank with what you have come to believe men in society want). Your statement holds truth in that we women have owned the crap the male establishment has fed us. Sad, but true. I think you should be proud of bringing to light the constant struggle of women, but also how women are trying to maintain status quo without even acknowleding from whom that status quo originates. It's time to stand up and be proud of our bodies and parade naked through the town square shouting this is me and this is good enough! Good work friend!! 🙂


    October 5, 2010 at 12:10 am

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