Maybe I peaked in childhood.
This was a massive problem for me growing up.
Ashamed of being female. Up until I was eleven years old I loved makeup and perfume and I used to play dress up with my mother’s clothes, wear her jewellery and even her makeup when she wasn’t looking. She always knew, of course. Mothers do, don’t they.
When I was eleven, nearly twelve mind, I started developing tiny buds on my chest. I also started gaining a little weight, namely on my behind and thighs. I wore large T-shirts to cover it up and stopped wearing the dresses my mother used to buy me. I hated them with a passion, even though before that age I would chose them myself.
I started wearing jeans and T-shirts to cover up the boobs, and when I started my period, I cried for days. I prayed and prayed and prayed it would go away (thank goodness it didn’t, what a ridiculous thing to pray for!) and I started feeling disgusting.
Physically disgusting, like there was something wrong with me. Sanitary towels were something I hated, I used to stuff them in my mother’s wardrobe as though they had nothing to do with me. I turned my nose up at makeup and I even stopped brushing my hair because my hairbrush was pink. I even developed a manly gait where I would hung up my shoulders and swagger a little, to show that I was tough.
I wanted to be tough and strong. I played all sorts of sports and forced myself to watch football (even though I actually couldn’t care less about the sport) and was really scornful to girls who giggled too loudly or looked too girly. There is nothing wrong with playing sport, of course, but for me it was excessive and sweaty, and a way to prove I was not feminine at all. This lasted until I was about seventeen; all through high school (college in the UK) I wore oversized hoodies and boyish jeans. I would never accessorise and never made any effort with my hair or face.
I looked like a potato, in all honesty. It was beneath me to make anything of my appearance. I suppose even if I had wanted to be boyish I could have at least brushed my hair and chosen nicer looking clothes. I looked like a tramp more than anything.
I was not comfortable in my own body and I hated my boobs.
The thing is, inside and underneath all that I was actually very girly. Once I became more comfortable with being a female I started wearing makeup and girly clothes and enjoying my feminine assets.
I don’t know why I was ashamed before. Thinking back on it, I think that it stemmed from this idea that I had that women were silly and frivolous and weak. I don’t know why I thought that – my mother is an exceptionally strong woman, and she always told me I was beautiful and taught me always to be myself and stand for my rights and the rights of others. My grandmother suffered horrendously at the hands of her ex husband but came out of it with her head high, albeit with a broken heart. She independently bought her own house in the eighties, and worked so hard to make sure her kids got an education at a time when lots of people didn’t really go to university, was a mother and a father to her children (a really tough job) and when she died left behind a strong, empowered legacy.
I still don’t love my own body, but I love dressing it up and wearing nice feminine things. Also I am a great fan of bras and I love my boobs, which is a good thing because they got so much hate before
Have any other females felt this way? Do you know why one would feel this way going through puberty? If you do, please share!
Disclaimer: I am in no way at all saying that females should not or cannot be boyish. Some do and rock it really well, and go them. I am just detailing my personal journey with this issue.
You know, I forgot I turn 22 today!
My mum texted me yesterday saying ‘How are you Mrs 22??”
I racked my brains for a bit thinking, why on earth would she write that? Then I realised of course that she was the one who birthed me, and it was almost my birthday.
My husband doesn’t remember, though! I sat back and thought about it for a bit, and realised it actually doesn’t faze me. I know he loves me, and not remembering the date I was pushed out into the world kicking and screaming doesn’t make any difference to that fact.
Or does it?
I guess a tiny part of me would like him to acknowledge the fact. I know he has a million and one things running through his mind, though, so it’s ok. It’s OK. Okay. There.
Also today I was craving chocolate and my little sister in law who is eleven knocked on my door just now and came in with a pretty teacup filled with Cadbury mini eggs. Which I thought was darling of her, and she deserves a big hug and a kiss from yours truly.
Anyway. I don’t know why I wrote this post. March 30 has always been a special day for me, because it’s just so symmetrical and in my diaries over the years it signified many growth milestones. Each March 30 was more dignified than the last, and each March 30 entry had better spelling than the last. Is it vain to pore over my own history like that? I don’t know.
I just remember small Len who kept looking down at her feet to see if they were any further away from her, and little Len who swore vehemently she would never become a ‘teenager’, and small Len who scoffed at the thought of boys and told everybody she would live in the countryside one day with animals and plants and run in the fields and lie amongst the wildflowers and adopt children and always always always play. She would never stop playing and laughing.
She was naive, and sometimes disillusioned, but she always saw life as an adventure and a happy place, and every month she had a ‘best day ever, even better than the last best day ever’, and she discussed how one can measure a ‘best day’ with her friends who, in those days were kindred spirits, and I don’t know what happened to her. She has vamoosed. She vanished and in her place is a girl who mopes a lot now and complains and is often sad.
So all the March 30s are little glimpses into what she became, and perhaps little motivations as to how she could go back.
Sometimes I wish she never grew up. Horrendous things happened to her and it was all my fault and I am so sorry, but I think I ruined her forever.
As I wheeled by bike
Out into the wonderful outdoors
Fresh, cold wind on my face
Up my ankles
Fanning my cheeks
I heard the trees swishing their bare branches
The birds tweeting
The hills rolled away in the distance
I climbed aboard
I squeezed the handlebars
And I thought to myself
Goodness gracious me
I am twenty two in 26 days
TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD.
Only eight years or so,
Until I am thirty.
When you reach thirty, folks,
You have hit the point of no return.
You’re a true adult,
The truth is, folks
I still feel twelve.
I still feel six
Looking down at my feet
To see how far off the ground is
And wonder if I’ve grown a little
I still feel small.
When I look at my feet,
It is only to have adult thoughts
And lament about my long toes,
The coursework that I have to submit,
Or the bills I need to sort out,
Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it happened.
I don’t know when I went from hiding between the clothes in a supermarket, or jumping over the cracks in the pavement which were really large crevices filled with gnashing crocodiles, to trawling miserably through the same shops that I used to make magical playgrounds out of.
When I went to the hillside park of my childhood the swings were old and rusty and too small, the playhouse desperately needed a lick of paint, the grass strewn with cigarette ends and bottle caps.
Where was the vibrant green hill of my childhood? Oh, it’s just a small mound with more sand than grass.
The glorious forest of trees I used to wander through, my head craned, fascinated by the canopy high high above, is just a tiny thicket, its ground peppered with unsavoury adult things that I now know the meaning of. I look down now, not up.
Walking at night was an enchanting adventure, all the shadows seemed blacker somehow, and moved when I walked. I felt so deliciously vulnerable, safe in the knowledge that my parents were with me so I was protected. Now it is all dark alleyways, and every stranger is a potential attacker, heart quickening as I hurry along, desperate to finish my business and get safely home.
Even my childhood home is different. My old reading nook is too small, it’s only an alcove that could fit a skinny child.
I don’t know when I stopped running everywhere. Running down hills because my legs would swoosh so fast and the scenery would blur, picking all the daisies, the climbing frame becoming a castle, turning strangers into evil sorcerers and playing hide and seek with them while they walked on, oblivious. Discovering secret tunnels full of prickly thorns, that were just gaps between thick holly bushes. Always, always always finding the most fun way to get to places, catching flashes of my parents as we darted through bushes and happening upon little trails through the trees. Walking past people’s front gardens and sniffing their roses, and dreaming of the colourful arrays they had nodding at passers by.
Now I hurry on by, maybe admiring the flowers a little, but never with the radiant reverence of my childhood.
The world is still the same, folks, but the colourful film of innocence has been lifted from my vision, and everything underneath is drab and grey.
When did this transition occur? For I don’t remember it. I remember vehemently saying that I would never be as boring as the adults, but here I am, walking not running, stepping not skipping.
I miss the magic so so sorely. I try to conjure it again sometimes, when I am playing with children. Try to see the lions approaching through the trees, the swings turning into swift hover boards, the daisies twirling their pretty white skirts tinged with purple like small fairies, but the images fizzle away so quickly.
Do you remember the moment you transitioned? Or is the moment elusive to you, a slow and painful death of the allurement of life.