I Wallowed In Self-Pity, Yet I Was A Bombshell

bombBy Alexandra Greene

From a young age I understood that as a woman my breasts should be full, my waist should be tiny, and I should dress to impress men. As a child I would stand naked in front of the mirror, picturing my body as that of a billboard model, cupping an imaginary chest and making bedroom eyes. So I was confused and disappointed with 40-inch hips and a cup size well below DD. The disparity between my imagined and actual bodies created a conflict: how could I enjoy my own body if it couldn’t land a man?

Lacking a fully developed brain, I set off to find alternative ways to be valued. 

If I couldn’t be conventionally sexy, I would fight the system. Women should be fragile, nurturing creatures who adorn themselves in pink? I got into violent movies and punk rock. Even if that meant giving up things that actually brought me joy, like theater and dance. But girls chastised my outfits and outlook, guys distanced themselves and authority figures judged me. Hiding my feminine side as my self-esteem plummeted was exhausting.

Plan B? Women are also valued for their sexuality, so I would exploit that and at least break the double standard.

Of course, sexuality is confusing. There is the “good girl” variety: lure men in only to deny them gratification. Alternatively, focus on his gratification but not your own. Unfortunately, that’s the route I took. So my work at breaking the double standard only went so far.

That search for validation led to sleeping with men I had no interest in, abusive relationships, a reputation for promiscuity, borderline eating disorder, crippling depression, and most horrifically, rape. Plus, lying to the world and myself about the shame I felt. This hypersexual activity was in no way benefiting me. And it begged the question: How could this be natural sexual behavior? It wasn’t.

Being a relatively smart girl, I saw that our culture’s ways often were not in my favor — and that there were options.

Enter feminism, my savior, my pride and joy. While my history may suggest otherwise, I have always held strong egalitarian beliefs. My family motto is ‘strong rugged women.’ Time to take the motto to heart.

Step one: Learn to love my body. The engrained beauty standard had blinded me to the possibility that I might be beautiful. In other times and places my body type has been idolized. As I wallowed in self-pity over my curvaceous figure, I was a bombshell.

Step two: Rework my sexuality. Patriarchy says my body’s worth lies in pleasuring men. Feminism says my body is mine to enjoy as I please. In some societies my sexual expression would be encouraged, and my orgasm prioritized. Sexuality is about exploration; it is not something to be ashamed of, and it is not something to be wasted.

I am now in recovery from patriarchy, so there are days when I can feel scarred and shamed. But I no longer search for validation in the climax of random men.

And now I know that I am a bombshell in more ways than one: my knowledge, my social action, my self-esteem. As for my sex life, I now enjoy only trustworthy lovers who encourage my sexuality and treat it as a gift.

Without feminism — without learning to love my body, my orgasm, and myself — I was an echo. Since embracing my feminine power, I am strong, confident, and in charge.

This was written by one of my students who gave permission to post on my blog.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Beauty Tricks to Remove Your Power
Low Self-Esteem? Blame Beauty Myths
Believe You’re Beautiful – Others Will, Too

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 13, 2013, in body image, feminism, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. To me, there’s nothing sexier than a woman who has learned to embrace her sexuality. Any woman’s body can please a man. Men need to learn that and stop dismissing women who’s bodies don’t meet the bogus beauty ‘standards’ that society (and men) have set.

  2. That was very brave of Ali Greene to let you post her story. She needs a big hug 😀 xox

  3. I definitely believe that it is true that in today’s society women are bombarded with images of what a woman’s body should be like to be appealing to men. Walking down any street we see signs and advertisements of women giving off sex appeal in lingerie with their curvy bodies. For women that do not have the same type of body this can lead to insecurities with themselves and like Ali Greene they can make bad decisions when it comes to relationships or their lives. If all women can get to the realization that they are bombshells no matter what type of body they have, then we would see a huge increase in the amount of confident women out there, and that is where true sex appeal is because for me personally there is nothing sexier than a woman with confidence in herself.

    • While advertisers make a lot of money by making people insecure, thru things like celebrating one body type (that is rarely found in nature), it’s interesting that this body-oriented technique is aimed at women and not men so much. That’s where patriarchy comes in.

      So I’m glad Ali embraced her feminism, which teaches women to love all the different body types out there.

      And interestingly, actual men are far less narrow in their preferences, anyway. It helps a bit for women to become more aware of that, too.

  4. It’s aimed at women, because women are so competitive with each other and don’t seem satisfied being attractive, but they have to be the most attractive. The cosmetic industry knows this and feeds off that. That is why women who even had nice bodies and are very pretty can and do fall to this, because them getting attention from men everywhere and being complimented on her beauty just isn’t enough. She has to be the hottest girl and her not matching up with that billboard model, just doesn’t settle well for her, so now she’s self conscious and feels bad and wants to improve herself with buying products so she’s hot like those models she sees, even though she’s already pretty herself. If women didn’t have to put themselves amonst other women or compare how they are in the pecking order, they’d be less insecure or feel bad and more satisfied of the beautfy they have and the men that find them attractive, instead of being jealous of the attention the “prettier” girls get from people over them.

  5. There are more CEOs nowawadays for big companies and corporations and I think it’s quite an assumption to think that this wouldn’t happen even if women ran things, as there are more women today running companies. And I’d bet for the various fashion, cosmetic related companies, some of them have women CEOS and owners and some of them probably would have models with near perfect bodies shown to make other women insecure too. The thing you have to know is man or woman, there are quite a bit of owners or CEOS who care more so about the bottomo line -$, than people’s feelings, etc.

    • I agree.

      Women unconsciously internalize the notion, and then repeat it.

      You must critique the system in order for women and men to be see what’s happening and make change. That’s what feminism focuses on.

  6. It is amazing to me the things that society and what they consider the “norm” does to children all over the world. We have been told what is sexy and what is not, how we should act, dress, talk, everything. Children are shown little princess barbies and their petite frame. Long legs, small waist, perfect breast, flat stomach. These are the images that we see constantly growing up, and this is what we wished to become because they always got the prince.

    What has even made it worse is that women ourselves have always been our own worst critic. We as women a malicious to other women because they too do not fit the norm, we bring each other down and talk about the things that was given to us, none of which we asked for. I think it is important for women to embrace themselves and to look beyond the physical to show whom they are.

    While I love my body, I love my mind, my heart, my willingness to help not only others but also myself. I love my personality, I love my desire to learn and explore, I love everything, the good the bad and the ugly. Women have to embrace themselves and love themselves for everything that they have. Basing their opinions on what they want for themselves rather than what people and society expects from them.

  7. I have struggled with my own body image and I still do. I think women need to stop listening to the garbage the media and some men say when they refer to a “standard” of beauty.

  8. This is what a man run society gets us. It confuses us, misleads us, and puts us through years of pain and misery NEEDLESSLY. Life can be so simple. If everything was in moderation, which I believe that Feminism is much like that, then it wouldn’t hurt people so much. But then it wouldn’t be patriarchy. With things that men run come challenges, threats, total control issues. Men are violent and violence spreads.

    The author shouldn’t have had to go through so much in her life. I picture a society run by women where girls are lovingly coached with soft words and nurturing people around to lead. Gently helping them grow up and be successful.

    We really need to turn this place around!

    • Thank you for your comment. Just to be clear — and this may be what you mean — I’ll have to say that the problem isn’t men, though. The problem is patriarchy.

      Both women and men grow up in a culture that values men more and gives men more power. On some level, it seems natural and normal to most of us, because it’s submerged way down into our unconsciousness where we don’t even notice it. So it’s not surprising that both women and men tend to re-create it.

      The only thing that keeps people from re-creating it is when you move it out of the taken for granted norm and begin to critique it.

      So you see patriarchy where advertisers use body insecurity to prompt buying among women, more than men. Men don’t get nearly the same number of messages that their bodies aren’t adequate and that they need to match some impossible ideal.

      Plus, historically “Sexy” is all women could be about. Other opportunities were much more limited.

      Or if you look at porn, most of it is about women pleasuring men. And then often expect women to be sexy without expecting themselves (men) to be sexy to women. Women worry about how big your boobs are, but what do men have to offer women that supposed to turn us on? Again, the problem isn’t men so much as a patriarchal system that teaches both men and women to see things this way. In fact, women seem to take this on more than men do. Actual men seem to find a much broader range of body types appealing and women do, themselves.

      And then there is Ali’s comment that “Women should be fragile, nurturing creatures who adorn themselves in pink? I got into violent movies and punk rock.” That is largely about a culture that values masculine over feminine things.

      Feminism can then come to the rescue to help both women and men to see other options.

  9. Until I joined roller derby, I probably wouldn’t agree with the above poster who suggests a society run by women. All i’ve ever seen is women putting down women, judging women and pointing out their ” flaws”. When I joined this sport, a group of 40 plus women, I expected THE WORST, and was so wrong. For the most part everyone is incredibly supportive not just at practice, but in ” real life” too. But are men really to blame? I remember a boyfriend years back crying because he couldn’t give me an orgasm. He not only cried to me, but he cried on the phone to his mom when he TOLD HER ABOUT IT( mortifying). So it’s not just women who feel they have expectations by the other sex ( i didn’t have any). I think the problem is that this whole world is filled with he said she said, and we are all trying to live up to expectations that don’t really exist for the majority of the population. I’m happy that the author of this post was able to find a balance in her life, and realized that you have to appreciate yourself before you can appreciate anyone else.

  10. Ashley Steffenson

    I can definitely relate to the writer of this. Once I had hit puberty myself, I realized that I would never be that ideal of being a big breasted and behind sort of woman. I therefore decided to detest everything I thought a woman “should be”. I hated wearing pink and wearing dresses. I hated being emotional and anything really related to being “feminine” I was shunning out my gender because I felt that the more empowering thing to do was to try absolutely everything in my power to be unconventional, even if that meant rejecting things that I normally would have liked. I later realized that the real empowerment was not to shun out my own gender, but rather to embrace my gender for what I thought it was moreover, NOT what anyone else’s view of what a “sexy” woman should be. Especially considering that this beauty ideals came heavily from a male dominated and oppressed view. The whole “So what” campaign really came into play with this way of thinking. So I had small breasts and didn’t have a tone belly? There came a point where I decided not to take a part in that negative way of thinking. That if I didn’t reach a certain patriarchal system of what’s “deemed acceptable” or their made up standard of what’s “sexy”, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t. Essentially, that way of thinking is just destructive and brainwashing. Trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal of expectations of what you should be verses all the positive things that you already are isn’t a healthy way of living. Trying to be someone you aren’t is a waste of the person you are, essentially and women have the power to make up their own societal standards of beauty and what is sexy. The only way to see change, is to be change. It’s simply a matter of believing in yourself and the possibilities are endless.

  11. I can totally relate to the writer when she talks about her unrealistic beauty standards and I appreciate her honesty when it came to her past experiences. As a child, I saw curvy bodies on TV, billboards, and advertisements and I craved that fuller figure. I wanted to be sexy even when I didn’t know what sex was. I hit puberty at a young age and my breasts were larger than my mother’s by the time I was 10. Suddenly, all I wanted was to be like everyone else, to be able to run around and be a kid without my chest wearing me down. I felt like my childhood was gone seemingly over-night and I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. I stopped doing sports because exercises caused me pain, causing my self-confidence to go down. I couldn’t wear certain things because my chest was sexualized and I had to think about my body more than the average elementary schooler. Now, as an adult, I try to downplay my chest as much as possible as to not bring attention to the body part that caused so much unwanted attention in my childhood.

  12. This is a topic that I have thought long and hard about of recently as well. As women, we are told to do so much in order to fit into the constrains of what society deems appropriate and acceptable for us. In my younger years, I was known as the smart girl in class: the book worm, the girl who always had her hand up. However, when I was 12, I went to an open casting at a model agency in SF where I was offered a job. Suddenly, awareness of how I looked all the time filled my brain and instead of being the ace student that I always was, when I got home I went straight to read fashion magazines to analyze the models, their poses, reading about make up, skin care and clothes instead of doing my homework like I should. This digression from education as my main priority in my formative years has been so much more difficult to shake and so much longer lasting than my quick 2-year stint as a preteen model. This was my entry into the world of being judged and caring how I was perceived and trying to fit into industry standards, but it happens sooner or later to most every girl I know. Putting the emphasis on how we look and what we are supposed to be doing truly stunts our individuality, independence and (in my case) education. I am happy the author of this post finally found balance, as I am still finding as well. I don’t think it comes overnight, but for me it is a constant journey – as the rules and constraints women are told to be aware of are relentless.

  13. My ideal woman is curvy. Her curves may come in two forms: muscle and fat. I do not find skinny women remotely attractive. Nor do I find big women, no matter the fat-muscle distribution, to be attractive. In spite of this, I realize that even women whom I find unattractive, have their admirers. These admires do not have to be fetishists, at all. Attraction is cultural, what one group of people finds attractive may differ markedly from others. For some, people who are overweight are seen as “unhealthy” or “a heart attack waiting to happen.” For others, and this is what people would ideally understand, fat might be seen as particularly attractive. This is best exemplified in the phrase, “more to love.” Having more soft body tissue might feel more stimulating to touch for some people. Also, fat doesn’t automatically make a persons face become disfigured. If a person has an attractive face with average weight, then it seems safe to say that in many cases, the extra “fat” wont interfere with his/her beautiful “bone” structure.

  14. I really enjoyed reading this article because it brings up a topic that almost every girl has struggled with at some point in their life. I know that I have personally struggled with body image issues and am still currently dealing with the issue. However, I do find pride in knowing that my body will forever be changing and I have yet to see the final result. I do not fear the final outcome of my body but rather enjoy wondering what it could potentially look like. Using plastic surgery to change my body was never a concept that I ever really considered. It seems a little too drastic for a mind frame that is temporary.

  15. Christin Janicki

    This article was very inspiring, and gave me a new perspective on feminism and how women should treat their bodies. I have always tried to follow the social norms of how to dress and act, but i never felt quite comfortable with it. I don’t like to show off my breasts or by butt just because society tells me that’s what men want to see. Although I am uncomfortable with this I am also not comfortable when I wear baggy clothes that are completely modest because I feel like I will be judged by society. I like how the author of this post reacts to this problem and says that she is just going to be herself no matter what other people may think. Focusing on yourself and making yourself happy before pleasing someone else is a concept that should not have to be taught, but in our society most women need this lesson. I hope that from now on I can focus on myself more, but I know that it will me somewhat of a difficult task since society will be pushing me in the opposite direction.

  16. I feel a majority of women go through similar stories. All in different ways but with the similar cause; society and its expectations of women’s looks. We all go through it either mildly or aggressively and we all almost always come to the same solution as Ali Green. I’m glad I realized it early.Just like Ali Green, ever since I’ve learned about feminism and began to look into it, my self esteem has risen and I feel as if I’ve gained more confidence in who I am. I always encourage my girl friends to look into as well.

  17. I wish for more articles like this… instead of the advertisement of how someone lost weight in 15 days or the different kinds of tricks and techniques to fit the “beauty standard.” i saw in one of the comments that someone said any woman’s body can please a man, and that i do agree but not all women can embrace their own unique beauty and not try to just please men cuz that’s what they are “supposed” to do.

    http://www.chicagonow.com/dad-all-day/2013/11/man-sues-wife-over-ugly-kids-and-wins/

    This poor lady was sued by her husband for having ugly kids. And i feel bad for her because not only was she hurt by society and felt ugly, but she had to spend hundreds of thousands on plastic surgery to fit into beauty standards, and then some guy married her (probably for her looks), and then the babies come out and he thought they weren’t his because they were “ugly”. So he sues her.. and after about 4 years, he wins.

    This story is just sad. and i think if there were more articles like these… those poor kids from the story would not grow up feeling “ugly”.

    • Thank you for your comment, and the link. And that’s just crazy — that link!

      For more of this sort of thing, check out “body image” under “categories” on the right hand side of the blog.

  18. Society has made every women feel bad about themselves at least once in their lifetime. For instance, when I was little, I was flat chested and had a really big stomach, which made me look weird because it should have been the opposite. I was self conscious about my body up to sophomore year of high school. I would compare my body to other girls my age and of course, that made me feel even worse. It made me feel jealous and that was when I realized that life was unfair. You don’t always get what you want in reality. However, once I started growing up and maturing, I stopped thinking what other people thought about my body and me. Having those horrible thoughts in my head only had a negative effect on me, so I decided to stop and focus entirely on me. Guys liked me for who I was and when I asked why they liked me, none of them mentioned anything about my flat chested breasts or a big tummy, they liked my personality and stuff like that. Everyone just needs to focus on them and not what society wants. Look at all the positive things you like about yourself, I’m sure that the positive things will outweigh the negatives.

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: