The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Dear diary, I think I’m in love…with my body!

Naked Bake Night, Eco House, Sunday, November 15

I like to tell people that I look better naked. There’s something about the curves and indents of my body that work better when seen in the flesh, compared to packaged and wrapped up in pretty clothes. But standing in front of the mirror, preparing to show the rest of the world my better-naked body, I wasn’t so sure.

The pimples on the back of my thighs, the ones you get right underneath your butt? They were a personal affront. The red lines from last night’s “fetish Harris” costume screamed, “I wear clothing that’s too tight on a body that can’t pull it off.”

I thought I looked better naked because usually, while naked, I’m too preoccupied with the activity at hand to actually examine my flesh for all of its oddities and leftover tan lines and stray hairs.

So no, I didn’t go to “Naked Baking” naked. I showed up fully clothed but I walked in to see two girls in no-pants, and one boy sporting an apron and nothing else. I knew them, but not in the kind of way that lends itself to comfortably removing my clothing.

I instantly regretted my choice of attire. I just couldn’t see myself taking off the sweatpants and shirt I’d slipped on over my undies, right in the middle of this kitchen. It felt highly inappropriate, if not downright dirty. So as a compromise, I took off my shirt, and began to bake cranberry chocolate chip cookies wearing a tank top and sweat pants.

Thus began the prolonged strip tease. I put back on my shirt, and took off my pants. And then I took off my shirt, so that I was wandering around in my most conservative black panties and a tank top. And then finally, ten minutes before leaving, I took off that binding last shirt, and bared my lace-covered nipples to the world.

The funny thing is, the cliché is true. Being–almost–naked was liberating. I laughed at the way my ass shook while I stirred the dough—I bent over to get the cookie sheet from beneath the oven and noticed the exact muscles that tense in my thighs in that position.

I wasn’t worried how these almost-strangers saw my body. And I wasn’t worried about how I saw it, either. It was there—part of the decoration. No better and no worse than anyone else’s. I think next time I’ll lose the bra, too.

Fat acceptance Discussion, Younker Lounge, Monday, November 16

I examined my body carefully yesterday when I was preparing to broadcast it to the world at Eco House, but I felt more self-conscious of it tonight, sitting fully clothed in Younker Lounge. I was distinctly aware of the two cookies, piece of cake, slice of pie and three chocolate kisses sitting in my stomach. I felt the waist of my jeans biting into my protruding belly.

I felt fat.

So it was a good thing I was sitting at a fat-acceptance discussion. Except that I don’t identify as fat. I recognize that, to the rest of the world, my body is fine. It is attractive even, for those who appreciate the exaggerated coke-bottle shape.

Yet sitting in Younker, I was fat. Partly because I’ve got the curves to claim it, and partly because of the specific mood I was in. It depends on what exactly is weighing on my stomach and how much I’ve worked out and what jeans I’m wearing—even who I’ve hooked up with lately and how it went.

We talked about this issue—one’s personal-identification versus society’s definition of them. We also talked about how society attaches other stereotypes to fat people, and I realized I subscribe to a lot of them.

In fact, I connect being fat with a lot of things about myself that I don’t like–my lack of self-control, the obnoxious, loud, insecure aspects of my personality and my inability to change my own body.
Fat acceptance is about moving away from these ugly and untrue stereotypes. It’s not about accepting unhealthy and potentially dangerous lifestyles, it just shifts the emphasis from skinny to healthy, which is something achievable at a wide range of weights.

The discussion wrapped up on a note of—politically incorrect—laughter. “In my country if you’ve got curves and a big ass, you’re worth more cows,” called out Nadine Baranshamaje ’11.

Female-identified Masturbation Workshop, Main Lounge, Wednesday, November 18

Masturbation is a touchy subject for me. While male masturbation was a main topic of conversation all through high school, the idea of girls servicing themselves was beyond taboo.

My own hesitancy to discuss masturbation stemmed from the fear of being the only one to do it—the only one who had sexual urges and the only one who was able to express them without a partner.

Turns out, I’m not the only one. The masturbation workshop assuaged all of my high school fears of being deviant or out of the ordinary in any way. By the end of it, I was almost worried that I’m unoriginal in my methods, experience and the supposedly uncommon settings in which I’ve practiced them.

Unoriginality wasn’t really my main concern though, to be honest. Instead, I spent most of the hour and a half discussion wishing desperately that somebody had sat me down for this conversation four years ago.
If somebody had actually discussed masturbation with me, I could have begun the exploration of my body with self-confidence and curiosity, instead of confusion and embarrassment.

We were still embarrassed tonight, but it wasn’t born from feeling dirty or inappropriate. Rather, it was the embarrassment that comes when discussing something that is deeply intimate.

The intimate details of my sex life were aired as we talked about the different things that we did to get off, and I brought up what I thought was a strange turn-on.

Despite the fact that I identify as a straight female, I fantasize about girl-on-girl, boy-on-boy, and occasionally girl-on-boy-on-boy interactions. Not many other girls in the circle related to this, but I did learn that there’s been a whole study on how women get turned on by all sexual activity, regardless of orientation.

I found myself laughing—is nothing I do weird or unheard of? Still, my sexual uniqueness matters less to me than just knowing what I like. After all, as the masturbation 101 handout told us, “It’s important to know what excites YOU.” So, you—go figure it out. And if you already know, practice it.

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