13 June 2014

It is exhausting to be a woman

Tuesday morning at about 6:45, I was headed to the gym. Since I work at a university, I use the gym there; so it's the same walk I take every morning to work. And I feel pretty safe and confident since I walk there so often. Well, as I was walking a car pulled up next to me suddenly. "AHH! Am I about to get abducted!?!" Is literally what went through my mind. I looked at the car, preparing to face my possible attacker. But, it was my neighbor friend Jeff who works out at the same gym as me. He had pulled over to offer me a ride. I declined, since I consider walking to the gym part of my workout, and he drove off. It wasn't until I was alone and walking again that I realized how insane that moment was. Because I am a woman, there is a constant, underlying anxiety that this could be the moment I get attacked.

It is exhausting to be a woman.

I feel like every day there are news stories about baby girls who are neglected and abused, young girls getting raped and adult women suffering violence at the hands of their lovers. Stories from far away of girls being forced to marry, forced to undergo female genital mutilation and forced to sell their bodies. Stories from nearby of women held for years in captivity, women who face serious medical, financial and psychological burdens when they are unable to get an abortion and women who starve their bodies under the pressure of an unattainable ideal.

It is exhausting to be a woman.

Lately, I've been very focused on my health. I've been conscientious about what I'm eating and how much and I've been exercising regularly. I have never been overweight, but had become unhealthy and desired to have a healthier lifestyle. My efforts were not for the purpose of weight loss, but I've lost 20 pounds in the last year and I feel healthier and more fit than ever before in my life. Needless to say, people have noticed. I've been getting a lot of compliments about my looks and have found myself overwhelmed. Not just overwhelmed in a happy way, since my hard work is being recognized; but overwhelmed in that I have no idea how to respond - I have no language for body positivity. 

It is exhausting to be a woman.

When I was young, I was taught in church and at school that my body was a stumbling block for men and that I needed to cover it up. The language I heard the adult women in my life use for their bodies was overwhelmingly negative. They would talk about all the things they didn't like about their bodies and how they couldn't change it. When the women in my life would talk about food, it was about caloric content and how the fat would "go straight to my hips." When I heard women get compliments, I heard them deflect them and accuse their complimenters of lying. I never heard the women in my life say "I am beautiful."

It is exhausting to be a woman.

Jesus took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cumi,” 
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
~Mark 5:41

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Brooke!! I can totally identify with the underlying fear and anxiety that comes from simply being a woman in a world that devalues and violates women. And the church has all too often not rejected the negative messages, but instead created "Christian-ized" versions of them. Wish that the church could be a place that was consistently and assertively empowering women - and empowering all people.