I've become a connoisseur of buttocks at the gym. Some are round and juicy. Naked and dripping wet from the showers, they really do resemble fruit. They look like apples, prunes, raisins, and even grapes. Women's naked bodies look very different stripped of the sexual content, the male gaze. At first I was afraid to strip down, hating on my body, which so many women are taught to do. I didn't mind exposing my breasts, but not the whole package. No, no, no. So I always wrapped a towel around my waist. But now I don't give a shit who sees me. We are all women. We all have breasts, hips, hair. I'm part of a naked community of female bodies, and I like it.
Naked children run around, pregnant women, athletic women, thin, tall, short, round. Some stand on the scale, some are blow drying their hair, some have just come from the pool with a faint reek of chlorine. I stood naked and chatted with a woman, equally naked, who writes educational policy. She's a swimmer, long and lean. I sat across from a woman in the sauna doing strange breathing exercises. Her torso was convulsing. It looked painful, but she was blissful. I sat next to another woman and puzzled over the perfect spherical shape of her breasts. Then I realized--- the perfection was man-made.
Without the male gaze, our bodies are the instruments of our lives. This may be true of men as well, but I can only speak from my experience. Growing up my body was an object and I learned to treat it like one. In the past ten years, however, I've been working very hard to establish a different relationship: to fine tune the mind-body connection to a different signal.
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