Today one woman shared with Ebony readers how she turned to eating and weight gain to lessen the street harassment she experienced as a young teenager.
“In high school, the boobs came in, followed by some hips and a nice little butt. However, I wasn’t moved one way or another by this development since; at that age, I was more concerned with Video Music Box than being a ‘video vixen’ or chaising boys. But while I was busy being the child I was, the men in my neighborhood began getting busy with fantasies of the woman they felt my newfound body made me to be.
It started off subtle at first. Lingering stares and comments under the breath that you couldn’t quite make out. I couldn’t understand why these men were speaking to me that way. I may have had breasts and hips, but I still looked like a child. I tried to hide my budding womanlyness under oversized baggy clothes, but that didn’t work. After I turned 16, it got unbearable/ I literally had men grab me, pull at me, hiss and whistle at me. I felt like everyone knew I had breasts and hips and thighs, everyone knew I was a woman. But I didn’t want to be a woman. I hated it, I hated the men and I hated me.
I longed for a way to fade into the background. One day the answer came to me like an epiphany: food. See, those lustful men didn’t have eyes for the chubbier ladies. They were pleasant with them, laughed and joked with them, but those girls were spared from the constant hissing and cat calls. They became my idols and I wanted to be them. So I ate. And ate and ate. I didn’t even realize that food became my new baggy shirt, until one day on a break from college one of my childhood male friends stopped me in the street and said “What happened to you? You got big!”
I was finally free. I was just another girl walking down the street and I loved it…..
I realized that the food was my way of physically stuffing down of all the emotions I felt over being sexualized and treated like a piece of meat by men as a child. I didn’t know that the issue wasn’t me and my womanlyness, but the men and their lack of respect for my body. I bore their cross as a burden and allowed it to weigh me down in more ways than one.
I now understand where my struggle with weight comes from and even though getting it off is a day-by-day process, I know that with every pound I work to lose, another piece of that emotional weight I’ve been carrying comes off as well. I’m learning to love myself despite my flaws. I’ve decided that I no longer want food to be my baggy shirt and I’m shedding that for good. My happiness is no longer about food or men; it’s about me and finally learning to love my body for what it is. A Heaven-sent, honorable and worthy vessel of life and of love.The body of a woman. “
She isn’t alone. Ten percent of the 811 women who took a survey for the Stop Street Harassment book said they had purposely gained weight to try to avoid experiencing street harassment.
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