Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dear Diary: Body Images

I was browsing through my childhood diary again this week and I came across this gem. I drew this when  I was 11 years old. It is clear from the picture that my perception of beauty was already twisted. 
The red head with curly hair and a curvy frame was deemed "ugly" and the extremely thin girl with straight hair and giant lips is "almost prity." Imagine my horror as I grew up into a body similar to that of my "ugly" redheaded drawing.

Fundimentalist doctrine teaches that a woman's body is somthing to be ashamed of and hidden. It teaches that womanhood is synonymous with frailty and china-doll perfection. I believe that fundamentalist doctrine devastates a girl's ability to love and respect her body. 

I also found it ironic that the "ugly" one is wearing an apron. I mean if she's not attractive enough to get a man with her looks, she'd better be able to cook or she's basically worthless. Ugh.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Afraid of the dark

 A year ago, I wrote a post about how as a kid I was convinced that I was possessed by the devil. I talked about the very first moment that I became afraid.

One of my earliest memories is of playing hide-and-seek at Grandma and Grandpa’s trailer. I was lying in the dark under the bed with my face pressed down into the red shag carpet. Waiting. There were dusty shoe boxes and plastic-wrapped blankets stacked all around me. I felt like they were waiting too, for the sunlight, for someone to open them again. Like most children, I was patient only when it came to hiding games, and I was willing to lie there all night, if need be, for someone to find me. I put my hands over my eyes and pushed down on my eye balls. When I lifted the pressure, the space in front of me exploded with imaginary fireworks. I pressed down harder, and harder, until suddenly I thought that maybe I could see a set of eyes. They were big and round and silver and stared right back at me unblinking, like an owl. Completely forgetting the game, I wriggled out from under the bed and went charging down the hall into the kitchen.

“Gramma! When I hide under the bed, I can see an owl’s eyes looking at me!”
Grandma looked up from the dishes with concern on her face. Grandpa, who was sitting at the kitchen table while Grandma cleaned, ordered me to come and stand before him.

 “What did you see?”

“Owl Eyes!” I laughed. “Big round silver ones! Under the bed when I close my eyes!”
I don’t remember what he said next, but I remember my excitement went suddenly cold. Grandpa was not happy. He asked me lots of questions, and before long, Grandma dried off her hands and came to sit with us at the table. They laid their hands on my head and prayed. Grandpa rebuked Satan in the name of Jesus and Grandma whispered “yes Lord” under her breath again and again.

I used to look back on that day as the moment when Satan entered my body.
I am sometimes afraid that if I ever become a parent I wont know how to address situations like this. When someone talks about seeing things in the dark, my automatic thought is that it MUST be demons. (Which is ridiculous since I don’t believe in demons.)  But I get uncomfortable and nervous none the less. I was wondering what I would do if my hypothetical child came to me about seeing things in the dark. As I browsed the comments, I came across one from Shadowspring that brought a huge smile to my face.

Horrifying. You poor princess. I just want to pick up that little girl that saw owl eyes and go rewrite that whole story.

Would I be smart enough to figure out exactly what you had experienced? Probably not, but we could've put treats out for the owl, gone to library for owl books (including Winnie the Pooh), made up a series of owl adventures and/or even had a field trip to the raptor center. That's the kind of grandma I want to be.

I bet your grandparents would cry if they knew that religious freak-out was the beginning of so much pain for you. At least, I hope they would.

Hugs, SS”
 As an agnostic, I no longer believe in dark, powerful demons that can harm and hurt you at will. I have no reason to be afraid for myself or my hypothetical children. Thanks, SS for the sweet comment. I know someday I'll think of you when my children come to me afraid of the dark. I know i will honestly be able to say "there is nothing to fear."