The Burden of a Body

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I felt so melancholic while reading Caridad Souza’s “Missing Body.” On the one hand, I was so amazed to find a testimonia that talked about the internalized disdain one can have for the “latina” parts of one’s body (curves, breasts, legs). But on the other hand, I was so disheartened by the fact that this is such a common occurrence for Latinas.

I have struggled with body image issues for my entire life, especially during my adolescence. I lived in a predominantly white New Jersey suburb, and I found that I was often fetishized by my white girl friends. They would comment on my breasts so often, usually leering in jealousy, but making me feel like such a freak. I was ashamed by the womanhood that had presented itself to me and everyone else through my hips; as they widened, so it seemed did the chasm between me and my self-esteem. I wanted to be thin and featureless, a true androgynous entity.

And I tried so tirelessly to achieve that image. I started running every day, I used my phone to count calories, I wouldn’t let myself eat in front of others. I became so ashamed of my body that I tried to whittle it down into nothingness, in the hopes that men would stop leering at my figure, that girls in the locker room would stop commenting on my breasts, so that I could fit in like all of the other white girls in size 2 jeans.

There’s no real moral to that story. I still struggle with food, honestly, and I am certain that a lot of it still carries over to my college experience because I go to school in such a predominantly white college town. I experience the same inability to look at my body in the mirror on most days like Souza. It was only until recently did I realize that my relationship with food was less a study in vanity as much as it was an attempt to suppress the parts of my body that gave away my “otherness”, my latinidad. I still feel an uneasiness about eating on most days. All I can say is that I’m working on it.

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