Monday, 30 June 2014

Throwing Like a Girl and Wearing Whatever the Hell You Want


Hallo Again!

I'm going to preface with post by telling you all that wearing these tiny little shorts was a big deal for me. I've been self-conscious about my legs (and butt) for a long long time, even in high school when I was about ten kilos lighter. Just recently, my anti-depressants have made me gain even more weight, so walking around the city in these tiny shorts had me trying to cover my bum with my bag at various intervals, or try to walk alongside walls like some kind of ridiculously dressed super-spy.


I was more concerned with the size of my butt than I was about the fact that it was bloody freezing. Every time a passer-by asked if I was cold, what I actually heard them say is "HA HA HA OH MY GOD YOUR LEGS ARE SO FAT HAHA".

And then I just thought, fuck it. I'm going to skip around and have fun, and oh hey that wall looks like it could use a climbing. 


So ha! Sorry random apartment block in the city, but I got my butt all over your front lawn. And it was great. And I actually think I look great. And besides that- my body is god damn strong. I can lift the heavy things and I'm a pretty damn good swimmer. 

So what makes me feel like my body is holding me back? I think it is a combination of feeling self-conscious about weight and size (like many ladies do) and also what Isis Marion Young calls 'inhibited intentionality'. 


She argues that women are handicapped by the way they perceive their bodies. This perception of what the female body is capable of is perpetuated by a sexist world, an environment in which boys are encouraged to engage with their space while girls are spoon-fed the specifics of what their feminine bodies are limited to. And limits are the key. While boys and men are given liberty to stretch, to recline, to reach and to touch, girls become women when the limits and restrictions of their own bodies are realized, making them refined- ‘lady-like’: confined. 

I remember photo day at my school clearly: the girls and boys who sat in the front row were told to sit in different ways. My friend Ryan would be told to sit with his legs parted, palms fisted and firmly positioned by his knees. I was told to sit with my legs closed, shoulders back with my hands folded neatly in my lap. While men seem to have the autonomy to embody their bodies and use it as much as they can in the space around them, sitting with open-legs and reclined, stretching arms, a woman sits with their legs closed, palms folded neatly into her lap, spatially contained by her femininity.


Arguably, men embody their bodies more freely than women who treat their bodies like machines. Women’s machines are supposedly faulty, impaired and in constant state of needing repair. According to Sandra Lee Bartky, modern normative femininity perpetuates this by setting a standard, which is concerned mainly with youth and beauty. Bartky, suggests that ‘the strategy of much beauty-related advertising is to suggest to women that their bodies are deficient’. We see it all the time in the media: anti-aging creams, skin-contouring makeup, product that claim to tame the unruly thing that the body is to a woman.


Growing up, little girls are often encouraged by both their parents and by society to avoid getting dirty, to not play rough.This leads the little girl to grow up with a sense of being enclosed in her own space, defined by her body. She grows into a woman that is aware of her body’s own perceived fragility; like afore mentioned, her body-thing is faulty, and able to break at any moment. 


There is often not a correlation between woman’s intentions and how she will position her body to carry out these intentions. Women are told they throw in a certain way, that they cannot lift the heavy things in the gym, that they cannot run as fast as the boys. So even if a woman’s physicality and bodily makeup actually predisposes her to being able to do these things, she often will not realize that herself. This is because of the inhibitions that hold the feminine body back, which are a byproduct of the implications of gender constraints. A woman’s capacity in her motility is dictated by the social and cultural constructs she exists in; just as her gender is. Gender dictates how we use our bodies in the spaces we inhabit. Isis Marion Young says: 

“The space, that is, physically available to the feminine body is frequently of greater radius than the space that she uses and inhabits”  


(by the way, everything in this post is thrifted- except for the eggs and bacon brooch, which I made. Ha!)


So, where does this all leave me and my poor legs?

I have big legs. They are strong legs. Most of the time, they are ridiculously hairy, scratched and bruised legs. They take me on adventures. They let me run, swim and climb the walls of random apartment block. And regardless of what society has been telling me, and probably you, about our bodies not being good enough, about them needing to be confined, about us not being able to use them properly, about how apparently to 'throw like a girl' is apparently a bad thing- I'm going to keep doing all these things anyway.

And you should too.



As a sidenote, the always amazing Annika put together this outfit for me! And I'm glad she did, because otherwise I never would have worn those bloody tiny shorts. And I'm so glad I did. Giving my leggies a little bit of loving is exactly what I needed. So go ahead and wear whatever the hell you want, and while your at it, throw like a girl.

Here is a fantastic ad circulating the net right now, which tries to flip the 'throwing like a girl' mentality on it's head. It's fantastic, so watch it!

PS. Have some references!

Young, Isis Marion. 1990. Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Bartky, Sandra Lee. 1988. “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power” in Feminism and Foucault: Paths of Resistance (Pp. 61-86). Ed. Lee Quinty and Irene Diamond. Northeastern University Press.

20 comments:

  1. this outfit is so perfect, and damn girl your body is amazing! I get what you mean, I always feel uncomfortable about my own figure, but seriously, you look great. I love this post!

    http://roseandvintage.blogspot.com/

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    1. oh my gosh, thank you so so much!

      xxx

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  2. I love your discussion on women and how we perceive our bodies (and tying it into your cute shorts!) I'm guessing that you watch the video on throwing like a girl that was floating around facebook today? :)

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    1. Haha yeah I actually posted it at the end of the post :)

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  3. Katie, I just loved this post. It disgusts me how we women tend to look at ourselves as inadequate for no reason other than sexist patriarchal social constructions. And then if you express self-hate, you are criticized for not having enough confidence. So messed up. So confining. I could go on all day, but the point of this really is that I like your post and your blog and your style, and YOU GO GIRL.

    Hana
    herrodolly.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much! You totally get it. Thanks for the support and for being involved in an important discussion! You're amazing. 💖

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  4. I wrote a long comment, but it got eaten. Anyway, I love this post. And when I saw the picture of you and Annika on her instagram, my first thought was that your legs looked amazing! I've never been to your blog before,but I will definitely stick around.

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  5. Your outfit is great - I am especially envious of that jumper and brooch! Also, I really enjoy reading your posts. I'm doing a Sociology/Anthropology degree, so I love reading these kinds of things; plus I think it's rad that you include references!

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  6. This spoke to me so much. We have really similar body types as I noticed through this. And I feel exactly the same way about myself. Its interesting to acknowledge that I dont apply the same amount of judgement and criticism to other women that I do to myself and thats because I've been brought up in a world where Im told that the shape I am is wrong and what I wear isn't right. I admire you so much for this and I love those suspenders!

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  7. Wow, I just found your blog from Annika's and now I am so glad I did. Your writing is fantastic, and I loved reading this - it's exactly right. I feel like women are taught insecurity, and we don't give ourselves permission to believe in ourselves often enough. You look great in the shorts though - rock them and your legs! You might be interested in these illustrations that I saw recently, and I think are one of the most empowering things I've seen. Gone back and looked at them several times: http://mic.com/articles/92651/empowering-illustrations-remind-women-we-are-in-control-of-our-own-bodies

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  8. What a wonderful read, your confidence is inspiring! You and Annika both always have such substance to your posts, alongside your adorable outfits, which I appreciate and admire <3

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  9. The fourth picture down is so gorgeous, it really feels free and peaceful and blissful! Excellent blog post in general too, of course! Your blog is one of my favourites!

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  10. Can't believe I've only just clicked on your blog! It's amazing! I'm a fellow feminist :) and I've got a draft post that i wrote after seeing this ad too but you've just written it so much better! You get across everything that I feel perfectly :') gonna be scrolling through your blog, you're a total inspiration and show me I need to get better at wording my feminist posts! And that I can have it on my normal blog instead of starting up a new one :) thank you :) xoxo
    amber love

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  11. I am actually so so happy right now!! This is the first fashion blog I have seen that talks about feminism, body image alongside fashion! Thank you so much!!

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  12. I recently found your blog through Annika and I'm so glad I did. This post is so great and definitely the type of post that keeps me going by reminding me to ignore all the negative/incorrect things society tries telling women. I recently saw that ad too and it was awesome to see people wanting to change the negative connotation of "throw like a girl" and to see young girls being confident in themselves.

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  13. This post and those colours on you are both equal parts amazing.
    xxx

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  14. Whenever anyone said 'you do ... like a girl', it pisses me off because what they are saying is that being a girl is not and will never be good enough, being a girl is always second best and not preferred. Hate it

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