Tag Archives: self image

Let Me Walk in Peace

11 Mar

If I ran in New York in this, I’d have to have my headphones at eardrum-bursting level to drown out the comments.

Editor’s note: Sorry for the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, but I was on vacation in Rio. I’ll be posting this week about what I learned on my trip, and hopefully entice you to take a break there. Trust me: it’s awesome!

It’s March, which means spring is around the corner (hopefully). I don’t know about you, but dealing with the winter doldrums has taken its toll on me. I hate the cold. I hate the layers of clothes I have to put on. I hate that those layers cause a ridiculous amount of laundry that the man from the cleaners shakes his head at every time he comes to pick up my clothes. I will be so glad when this mess is over.

I’m a spring/summer kind of gal. I like the warm sun, the green grass, the lack of sweaters. I love the sun shining on full, green trees. Most of all, I love the beach. I like laying out on the sand and hearing the waves crash. When at the beach, there’s an expected attire. I’m talking bathing suits.

I’ve discussed before my apprehension with putting on a bikini. Well, last week I was on vacation in Rio de Janiero (everyone should go there at least once), and I saw things I’d never see here in America. There were women—old, young, tall, short, heavy, waify—all wearing Brazilian-style bikinis. You’ve never seen one? Take a gander.

Embed from Getty Images

Imagine seeing that on your grandmother. I saw it on several. And you know what? It was no big deal. Body image is a huge thing here in the States, as it is in many places. But in Brazil, everyone—men and women—walk around shirtless. The women, of course, wear their bikini tops. It doesn’t matter whether you have a flat tummy or you’re in need of a few more sit-ups, no one is pointing or gesturing at you. Everyone goes about their business, possibly to whisper behind your back, but no one is ever outright rude.

If I could have bottled that attitude and brought it back to the States with me, I would have. I, like many women, am often the subject of catcalling. My shape is frequently the subject of some man’s rude comments. For someone as body conscious as I am, it makes me terribly uncomfortable—and angry.

I work out for me. I get sweaty and gross and smelly for the purpose of getting healthy and feeling good about my appearance. Just because some stranger sees me doesn’t mean he has to grab himself and make rude comments. I’ve heard everything, but most comments are focused on my rear. It’s large; I’m aware of that. It’s also not an anomaly. I know this because I saw several of them in Brazil. And not once did I get catcalled or street harassed there.

You don’t know the comfort and relief that came the day I realized not one person had said something that would have set my father off about my body while on vacation. It felt normal to walk around in shorts and a bikini top, because it was hot. I wore little shorts and a tutu to a Carnival parade without fear of harassment.

I think if more people, particularly men, were exposed to other cultures, or even to the comments women hear on the daily, I hope they would have more sensitivity to our plight. Saying “Good morning” is a perfectly fine greeting. Followed up with how smackable my butt is kills any goodwill that may have been earned.

Maybe I just need to move to Brazil…

I’m stepping off my soapbox. Have you ever had to deal with catcalling? How do you deal with it.