I Liked My Body – Until I Was Told “Respect Yourself”
By Vanessa Velaquez
In the middle of writing an essay during my third week of high school I got called out of class.
Instead, she lectured me on self-respect.
Turns out, I had worn a shirt that was too low cut for her taste as I leaned over my desk to write.
Being called out was embarrassing enough, but she also left the door open so everyone could hear our conversation.
It’s unfair to be punished for something you have pretty much no control over.
But guys can walk around shirtless, no problem?
The next year I was called out again for wearing a gray circle skirt that was “fingertip” length. A much slimmer girl wore the exact same skirt but she wasn’t called out.
This was a different teacher, but when I asked why I was being punished – when I had followed the rules exactly – she said the same thing: I wasn’t respecting myself. I was “a distraction to the class environment,” and “While you may have no control over the way you’re built, you do have control over the way you dress.” So it was my responsibility to cover up.
Back at home my family gives endearing nicknames, but mine is “Fatty” — which sounds less harsh in our language. I know they mean no harm but it does hurt my feelings, and adds to my body insecurity.
Meanwhile, my mom joins the bandwagon about showing too much skin, telling me that my body is a temple and I must respect it.
Even my shoulders aren’t covered enough. What’s the big deal about shoulders?
And why is self-respect tied to being completely covered up?
I was once proud of my curvy body. I loved myself and didn’t care what anyone else thought. But now it’s hard to feel confident when I’m constantly being criticized.
I appreciate feminists who stand up for women who are discriminated against for their bodies. The support definitely helps girls to accept the way they look.
I’m working to regain my confidence by reminding myself that other people’s words are just words. And there is nothing wrong with my body.
Posted on July 20, 2017, in body image, sex and sexuality and tagged body image, Girls responsible for boys sexuality, modesty, School dress standards, sexuality, shaming girls. Bookmark the permalink. 71 Comments.