I ninth grade I took a trip to Washington D.C. with the Junior Statesmen of America. (Have I mentioned how super cool and popular I was?) There were about seven of us who attended this trip; some of us were close friends and others merely acquaintances. We had been traipsing around the city for two days at this point. Mrs. Stewart had set us free to roam, and on our own we found ourselves at Union Station in search of food.
We rode the escalator down and began to engage in a most important discussion of who liked whom. (We may have been mildly nerdy but we still had our teen priorities in order.) We started with a review of the love triangles, or pentagons and hexagons as they so often were, of the dating world at Springfield High School. I was somewhat interested, but I didn’t participate with such zeal as I usually would since I currently was into a boy who attended our rival high school a town over.
The group diverged in two as we selected our food providers of choice. Myself and three others made our way to line up for pizza as the conversation continued. My mind had entirely drifted elsewhere, until I heard my name. What? Shellie? What about Shellie?
“So I think Scott Peterson definitely has a thing for Shellie,” I heard Steven continue.
Scott? Scott Peterson? But, he’s older than me. And I’m friends with his little sister. No, I have no interest in Scott Peterson. None.
I glanced over to see if I can spot him at the taco joint where the other half of our group went off in search of nourishment, but they were out of sight.
“Yeah, I was talking to him about it last night. He claimed he didn’t, but I know he’s lying,” Steven theorized. “I told him, I said, ‘Scott, why won’t you admit it? You like her, and I mean she does have a nice body!'”
Wait. Huh? Me? We’re talking about my body?
I wasn’t so shocked that someone was describing my body as nice, so much as the fact that someone was describing my body at all. Aside from a few overweight girls in middle school teasing me about my flat chest, I had never heard anyone give an opinion on my body one way or the other, so one can understand my utter shock. Since when was the topic of my body up for discussion? Weren’t there some sort of release of consent forms I had to sign before any male adolescents were able to comment on such subjects?
I entirely blocked out that conversation from that point on as my mind waded through all of these thoughts.
How many others had approached this topic without my knowledge? What did they say about it? Besides, what was there to say about it? I was more or less a toothpick. I wanted to know if other girls knew about these discussions, and what they thought of this. Were they okay with it?
It was the first time in my life I came to be aware that these were things people discussed. I knew they discussed female bodies in the general sense, but I was unaware that my own would actually be up for grabs. I felt as if I were still a child; we were far too young for people to be talking about our bodies. I was not pleased.
*Image from Diets In Review