One of the strangest things to me is the way humans obsess over their bodies. We obsess to the point where we think we have a right to make comments on other people’s bodies. It’s a very weird thing and something that I think about a lot. I don’t exercise, but I do yoga every day. I don’t eat healthily, drive thru lines are my best friend most of the time. However, my body only reflects the yoga and not the multiple latenight fast food runs a week. I’m small in stature and tiny in frame, most the time one of the first comments people make about me is how little I am. It’s a thing. I don’t hate my body, that privilege is reserved for my face, but I’m not as into my body as other people seem to be.
When I started identifying as asexual one of the reason I wasn’t believed, especially in the case of men, was because my body looks good. The first time I was told I couldn’t be asexual because it was a waste of my pretty face and nice body, it was by a guy I was attempting to talk to. I liked the idea of him, he seemed nice enough. It was the first time we’d hung out in person and I remember him looking at me weirdly as we waited in line at the movies. When we got inside the theater I asked why he’d been staring at me so hard. He answered with “Its funny, you don’t like sex yet you look like that.” And he waved his hand up in down in my direction, “You’re such a waste.” I can’t even tell you what movie we saw because after hearing him say that, I spent the entire time thinking about it. It didn’t hurt me exactly, it confused me. To him, I was a waste of time. I was also a waste of a good body and a nice face. To him, because I don’t allow people to touch me and enjoy my body physically, I’m a waste of a person. We never spoke again after the movie but it impacted me in a long-term way.
I often think about the way we as a society view the human body. Usually, the human body is viewed as only two things, something sexual and the thing that keeps us alive. What I mean is, if you aren’t talking about bodies in a medical way, more than likely you’re talking about them in a sexual way. The way a person looks has a lot of bearing on how others view them and how they treat them. There are beauty standards and weight standards, best-dressed lists and whole shows that talk down to someone for what they look like or what material they cover themselves with. Every year People Magazine picks a man in the entertainment industry who is supposed to be the “Sexiest Man Alive”. Women in the industry have lost out on opportunities because their face and/or body isn’t pleasing to someone in charge. It’s a society thing I wish we could either do better on or get rid of altogether. Especially when it comes to talking about bodies in a sexual way.
A lot of the time, it’s assumed that if your body looks nice or you get in shape you’re doing it for two reasons, your health or because you want to be considered “sexy”. Actors who do a lot of action films are often required to get in shape, mostly so that when they take their shirt off they look good. It rarely has anything to do with their character needing to be in shape. This mindset has tumbled over into reality(or maybe that’s where it started) and now many keep their bodies fit so that it pleases others. Of course, it’s not always the case but it’s far more likely than not. We are obsessed with how we are perceived by others. We change our looks for others. We twist and turn our general being so that it appeases others.
Also, it seems that many associate how your body looks with how much you have sex. A person who isn’t in shape and maybe has fat or body rolls isn’t looked at in a sexual way. They’re considered unhealthy and disgusting by society and deemed almost unworthy of sex. It’s almost as if sex is a special activity that only socially acceptable bodies should be able to have. So, when you have someone who is considered in shape and has a socially acceptable body but is not in any way interested in sex; people don’t deal with it well. It shocks and confuses them, it’s a backstroke against the norm current we’ve been stuck in for so long. And sometimes it brings out the worst in people.
In my last relationship, the guy I was with told me he was only with me because I have a nice ass. He told me that my interest in writing, my love for superheroes and even the way I prefer to keep my hair short were all things he disliked about me but according to him, my body was too nice for him to pass up. Later, when I disclosed to a different guy that sex, in general, makes me uncomfortable and I don’t like having it, he commented that it was a shame God got my body right but not my mind. Another hurtful comment, another slap in the face. I was once again just a means to an end. I could just say that men are trash but I think it runs a bit deeper than that. The backlash that I sometimes get from men when I tell them that I’m not interested in sex with them or anyone else is really something to behold. The idea of a woman they consider pretty and/or sexy not wanting to engage in intercourse doesn’t register. And because they can’t understand it, they think it gives them a right to literally say anything. I don’t get as much backlash from women but their disapproval comes in a different form. They talk to me like I’m a science experiment. I’ve had women that I barely even know their name, read my two posts about asexuality and then jump into my DM’s grill me endlessly. The constant lines of “girl maybe you just need to find the right dick” or “just be a lesbian, sex with us is better anyway” as if my issue was my sexual partners and not that sex makes me uncomfortable. Others, who at one time I considered friends, often made the suggestion that it was the traumatization of being raped that has set my mind to this way of thinking. They dismiss my claims that just because I willingly had sex before then didn’t mean it wasn’t uncomfortable, the discomfort just got incredibly worse after being raped. The two were not and are still not mutually exclusive.
For the most part, I like the way I look. There are a few things I would change but not much. I like the brownness of my skin, the wideness of my eyes and the thickness of my thighs but there are things I hate about it too. However, I try not to give those things too much thought. I don’t view my body as a means to get sex or a way to catch the eye of others. It’s a vessel that holds my soul and organs in place, it’s the thing that categorizes me as a human. However, when comments were first made about how my body and face is a waste, I found myself separating my mind from my body. I started disassociating anytime anyone showed the slightest bit of interest in me that wasn’t just a friendship level. I started not being able to handle the gripping anxiety I would feel whenever the topic of sex came up, the way my stomach would knot itself anytime I had to try and explain that I wasn’t into sex even though I look good. It’s almost like I should be ugly and out of shape in people’s minds because I don’t want intimacy. It’s a weird social norm to just assume that ugly faced people and nonfit people aren’t engaging in sex. It’s strange how people have a hard time understanding that sex is not a loved by us all thing. I honestly would be perfectly happy if no one looked at me in a sexual way again, even though I’m fully aware that will never be the case.
My confidence in my body, if you can even call it that, clashes with my noninterest in sex and while it doesn’t bother me, it has made me take a deeper look into so-called Body Positivity. Since becoming more in tune with asexuality I’ve noticed that the hand body positivity extends to most, doesn’t quite reach to me. Whether it’s because of the confusion surrounding my sexuality or the underlying belief that you can’t be body positive if the positiveness isn’t for sex-related reasons. I don’t know which one is true or if either of them is true, I just know that when I wear tight clothes and let skin show, it takes people by surprise that I’m not doing these things to gain sexual attention. And for those that already know I’m asexual, my comfort in my body makes them question if I’m really the orientation I say I am or just traumatized. The idea of a woman being okay with her body just because is apparently a new idea that’s just getting its footing.
Identifying as asexual is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with. Not because of others comments, even though those can hurt, but because as much as I talk about pushing back against the social norm, up until some years ago I fully believed all social norms. I didn’t break out of my conditioning until I started having feelings and experiences that no corner of the social norm umbrella could help me with or even relate to. I thought I had been the odd one out before but nothing compared to the ostracized feeling that labeling myself as Asexual has brought. And I don’t mean ostracized in the sense no one will talk to me, I mean it in the terms of feeling like you’re the only person in the world who doesn’t enjoy this one thing that we’re all supposed to love. I know I’m not alone, thanks to the internet, but I still feel alone because everyone around me has at one point or another said something that could have been hurtful. I can chalk that up to my thick skin, which I’m thankful for but I know that there might be other black girls and women out there who aren’t as thick skinned. Really all I want for my writing on asexuality is for my pieces to maybe help another black woman or woman of color realize that the way they feels is okay. If they need validation, I’m here to give it.