October : Jennifer
When a relationship ends that leaves me shaking after the dust settles and no recognition of the person that is looking back at me from the mirror, a road trip is my medicine of choice. The landscape needs to change so that I can. When I’m in a new place, so different than the daily grind, I can watch people and just take absorb their behaviors as strangers. Lately, my curiosity has been most captured by watching women watch women. I’m an adventurous lone wolf. I like to pretend it’s by nature. However, watching women watch women, I am reminded of how hostile we women are to each other. Maybe my lone wolf ways aren’t so natural.
When a woman walks by another, particularly if the women walks by in confidence, there is thinly veiled contempt in the eyes of the watcher. “Who does she think she is?” “How dare she stand out?” I know what she’s thinking. Part of the reason is because those words have been said to me. The other part of the reason I know is because I’ve thought those thoughts myself.
A very close friend of mine told me she was confronted recently. “You just do whatever you want!” were the words that got spat out at her. It wasn’t a compliment. It wasn’t said with admiration.
A self-directed wild woman is a threat, isn’t she? We as a collective are terrified of that. How easily we blame it on the men. I’m not convinced it’s their fault. Women sure do love to keep other women in check.
There were bullies at my school. I was often the target. When I would come crying to my mother about that day’s cruelty, she told me, “They’re just jealous.” This was not at all helpful in the moment. It is also not untrue.
When you are a victim of the side glare, you have embodied something that is desired. If you are the perpetrator of the side glare, you are experiencing jealousy. And jealousy is an amazingly useful signal. You have just been in the presence of something that you wish you were.
This is not a matter of size or color or fitness level or age. Women have received the side glare at 250 pounds or at 95. Women have received the side glare when tall or short. Women of all skin shades have received the side glare. At 42 years old, I’ve received the side glare wearing my old, patched beaten up cutoffs and thrift store t-shirt. Other women in their twenties, with the media endorsed body shape wearing head to toe designer brands have walked through a crowd without a single side glare.
Women who are the most often the victim of this subtle and powerful female on female aggression all share one thing in common. They do what they want. They exude confidence. They flow through a space with a wild grace. They love themselves. They refuse to be complicit with the abuse of women.
It is easier to witness that moment happening towards another woman than one’s self. In those moments, when I see a woman not understanding her jealousy as a call to action in her own life, I want to take her hands in mine, look into her wounded eyes, and say with all the love I have, “Honey, we all make choices. You can choose to be all that you want to be, too.”
I know it’s not easy. There are so many forces working against you. You’ve been told you’re not enough. You’ve been told you can only love yourself when you’ve met certain conditions. You’ve been told you are only worthy of that badass outfit when the number on the scale fits some standard dreamed up in a marketing boardroom. You’ve been told that you should keep quiet. You’ve been told your happiness depends on doing what you’re told. You’ve been told that life can only be good if you’re in a romantic partnership. I know. It’s not easy.
I know that you have thought patterns that make you terrified that all those horrible things that society, your partner, your ex, your parents, your pervy uncle, media, your kindergarten teacher, your “friends” have said about you are true.
It’s not easy to walk through the world filled to the brim with self love. It’s so simple, though. You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars in therapy. (Unless you enjoy paying someone to listen to you. I sometimes do. It’s a singular pleasure to have someone’s full attention.)
You don’t have to go on a quest to “find yourself” Fuck that noise. You’re not hiding behind a dune or stuffed away in a closet somewhere.
The true victim of the side glare is not the wild, confident women walking through the crowd. It’s you, the one who’s eyes have to keep reminding you what you want so badly with intense staring. Your emancipation from the slavery in which chronic jealousy keeps you shackled begins with these four words:
My body is mine.
Does that feel a little anticlimactic? Is that too subtle? It’s not really something that can be packaged and sold to you, is it? Not a whole lot of bells and whistles on this. Yes, it’s subtle. So is the side glare and yet, the power of the side glare shreds you up every time.
The power of these four words is not to be underestimated.
My body is mine.
It belongs to no one else. It is not to be touched or talked about or treated in anyway that you do not endorse with a full-body yes. It is certainly not to be injured or abused. When we do not claim our bodies, when we do not take back our sovereignty, we become complicit in the abuse that seems to be everywhere.
My body is mine.
Your skin is yours to caress with the world, to massage, to excite. Your muscles are yours to move in whatever way gives you the greatest pleasure. Your hair is yours to buzz, chop, lock, braid, mohawk, tease, color, or wear down to your knees. Your face, your exquisite, one of a kind face is yours to show to the world with pride. Your organs are yours to nourish. Your feet are yours to move across the earth in whatever way gives you chills, whether to dance across the floor or to tickle with mud through your toes. Your orgasm is yours and you will find that the best ideas do not come spilling out from between your ears but peek out from beneath your skirt. Your eyes are yours to take in the world in whatever way you find most beautiful. Fill your ears with whatever sounds you love most. Your tongue is yours to explore all the things you can possibly taste. Your body is yours to take on the best adventures because tomorrow’s body will be shaped by what today’s body does.
Your body is going to age if you are lucky. You are going to wrinkle and be covered in age spots. Your hair is going to whiten. Your eyes ability to see will dim. Yet, if you do what you want with this body that belongs to only you, your old body will still be the victim of the side glare. Everyone will see it: there goes an old woman who does what she wants.
I want a world full of strutting women; fearless females with ferocious appetites for themselves, wild women who take their sovereignty seriously, happy women who meet the side glare with wide, loving smiles. I want a pack of women with swagger, a pack so enormous that there is no one left on the sidelines side glaring in jealousy.
The only price of admission into this pack?
Repeat after me:
My body is mine.
Jennifer is a certified nutritional therapist practitioner, artist, dancer and writer.
She has been in the healing profession for over 20 years. The modalities she has worked in range from massage therapy, yoga, personal training, herbalism, lifestyle coaching, and nutritional therapy. Today, she creates workshops, writes, and makes art.
"I am passionate about empowering people to become their own authorities. It is potent medicine in itself to discover one's own healing potential through practical changes in lifestyle, with food as the foundation. The body constantly amazes me with its innate wisdom. It is never wrong."