So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

18 July, 2007


I had a disconcerting experience a few years ago.

I happened to glance at a mirror and realised, suddenly, that my body looked like it belonged to a woman. Which, well, it hadn't before, really.

It took me until my mid-twenties for my hips to broaden out that much. I think I'm done with that skeletal shifting now, but that's still something like twenty-fiveish years without hips like that and fiveish with. And yeah, I had one of those broad leather belts that's supposed to enhance the roll of those hips. so the concept of having hips and knowing how to use them isn't alien, but I bought it when I was eighteenish or twentyish and it doesn't fit anymore. (Not due to belly. Due to bone.)

It's still kind of disconcerting. Every so often I just get stuck with this sort of "Where did that shape come from?" staring. It's not a dysphoric reaction, precisely, so much as a haunting sense of the unfamiliar. Perhaps enhanced because adjustments to bone structure seem so much more out of the ordinary than changes to flesh, so much more unanticipated.

The most recent one of these got me thinking about the concept of the ideal or at least the expected body. All the stuff I got instruction on, health-wise, talked about the teen years as the maturing-to-adult-body thing, with maybe a few minor things that extended into the twenties. I can track my expected span of puberty by the years I was on medication to keep my endocrine system on normal parameters -- I went clinical at the beginning, and stopped needing the meds by the then-current diagnostic standards by the age of seventeenish. There was notable skeletal development.

But that never toggled over to 'woman's body' in my teen years. That level of development puttered along quietly in the background until it ambushed me in a bathroom some ten years after I figured I was pretty much done.

How many people's bodies sneak up on them like that? I'm not even talking about the crazed stuff about weight and what it means in surrounding culture, but that's a part of it. I'm not even talking about transness, but that's a part of it. But really, the process of being embodied is full of subtle change and manifestation of change, and how many people does it sneak up on? Is this more a comment on how hard it is to pull out distinct factors in gradual change, my own personal obliviousness, or some of the weird contexts created by a culture steeped in body-shame and body-denial?

How many women (as a for example that struck me this most recent time) got tackled by their hips when they weren't expecting it on an early, vulnerable morning and wind up obsessed with what that means about the breadth of their backsides?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not nearly so drastic as skeletal structure, but I believe my facial hair's rate-of-growth saw its greatest increase during my mid-20s, much to my annoyance at the time.

(Had to go from shaving every 3-4 days to shaving most days. :)