For most of my life, I’ve been disappointed to be living in a female body. It has only seemed like a test I could never pass.
For context, I’m cis-gendered, white, and heterosexual. I don’t speak for the full, vibrant spectrum of female experience. I can only speak for myself: a gal born in the early 90s, raised in a small town in a culture of Evangelical Christianity.
Growing up, I learned that a female body must be precisely managed, like the gardens at a royal palace. It must be reined in, covered up, controlled, or altered. This was in contrast to the freedom male bodies seemed to have. A female body was not desirable to look at in its natural state, never mind what it was like to live inside it.
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There were unspoken rules about which areas of flesh could be exposed, and it was more than just the obvious bits. Any visible décolletage, torso or thigh was a problem. The combination of these rules with the garments available to teenage girls in the late 90s and early 2000s made buying clothes a nightmare. Everything was either too tight or too loose, too long or too short. Sometimes things were too sheer; the sun might shine through and betray one's anatomy. But why these sections of skin were different from the rest was not clear.