Life is not so easy for a fifteen year old. Especially for a girl. What with all the emotion and hormone changes. That’s when a girl becomes disturbed and loses her confidence. I remember the first time when I noticed that I could bleed for five days and not die. It was kind of a shocking revelation, and I wasn’t too happy about it. Next came the sprouting of little breasts. That, according to me, was honestly pushing it.
‘Why was God doing this to me?’
I would look at the boys in my class and wonder why I am different. I did not need breasts. How I wished they would go away, and trust me I did everything possible to stop their growth (not gonna get into those details at present).
Before the advent of my boobies, I used to watch a lot of TV, but I had never noticed the stark difference between the male and female bodies of the TV stars- The BREASTS. It had not occurred to me that even my mom had them. Suddenly it was all I could see. (Talk about selective perception. I was an epitome of it). And then I had started growing a pair too. That was when I began to observe all the pretty ladies who had them as well. Big ones at that. It did give me a bit of confidence, not considerably though.
“I’m not different. I’m not the odd one. All the good looking women too have curves. Thank God!” But honestly, I still wasn’t proud of them.
“Why was I not a boy!” The thought had first time occurred to me then, and would go on to repeat itself in my head for many, many times more in the future.
And to make matters worse, I also had to undergo the humiliation of being molested right when my mind was till trying to process the changes. I still remember that as though it were yesterday. I felt dirty. Like somehow I was responsible for it. Like, since I had a weird, abnormal body, I was bound to attract attention from people who were normal (like the male species). This thought was so evil and so persistent, it somehow influenced me into developing a strong need… A need to hide away from humans, away from the evil eyes. I would prefer disappearing any day to being treated the way I had been. So I would do everything to stop men from noticing me, like stay silent, wear clothes that would not enhance my body, avoid boys at all costs etc…
I did not want to be groped again and having to spend my nights thinking if I was pregnant.
This experience changed everything for me. I went from being extrovert to introvert faster than one changes partners these days. I spent a whole lot of my young years being timid, shy and ashamed of myself.
PERIOD was another thing that could only add to my disgrace of coming to age. We hindus have a ritual, similar to bar mitzvah, where all the elderly ladies of the family get together and celebrate the occasion. Imagine my horror! All I wanted, at that time, was to be left the hell alone. “Let me dwell in my blood, peeepal!” But no, they wanted to celebrate the fact that I’m bleeding. Can it be more embarrassing!
See, I have no problem with the traditions and the celebrations, but why had it come as a surprise to me? Why did I assume it was bad to have periods? That not having breasts was normal? That being a woman was somehow lesser than being a man.
Had I been educated about the relevance of the changes a woman’s body goes through, I would have joined in the celebrations too. Anyway, that had not happened in my case and so I had no say whatsoever with what followed- I was presented my first saree, was dressed up like a grown woman (an anorexic version of my mother), and women brought beakers of water to pour all over my naked, nubile body.
My Question- Why won’t people guide girls and make them proud of their sex and body?
A misinformed child can conjure up things that may be damaging in many ways in the long run. Education is the only way gender biases can be weeded out from its roots.
PS: I don’t have a single picture of my coming to age ceremony. Had torn them off in embarrassment. I wish I didn’t have to.