How My Sexuality Helped Me Feel Sexy

by: Judy Punch 

Being queer has helped me feel better about my body.
But probably not in the touchy-feely way you’re thinking.  Let me explain.

Exhibit A: My big belly.

I have always had a very defined, not-at-all disguisable belly, and everyone knows that having a flat toned stomach is the only way for female Americans to even possibly be remotely sexually appealing.  Even being the very bright and critical young girl that I was growing up, I was not exempt from feeling my share of the overwhelming pressure that our society puts on girls to be thin.  As much as I tried to simply not think about it–to avoid the profile image of myself in the mirror, to never step on bathroom scales, to try on clothes with M on the tag and just never buy anything—it was an unavoidable fact of my existence.  I was fat.  The girls who were popular and had boyfriends were all thin.  All signs pointed to the fact that my fat belly was a liability to my happiness.

And so began the struggle to be thin—constantly trying to outperform myself in that horribly all-too-common three-ring circus of counting calories, exercising to excess, and self-loathing.  Somehow, despite the fact that my attempts to lose weight were only limitedly effective, in high school a boy started showing interest in me. For the first time I had someone telling me that I was pretty, that I was hot, that I was sexy even. And it’s not that I didn’t believe him. I just always took this to mean that I was somehow sexy to him despite my big belly.  I just could not fathom the idea that the part of my body that I was taught by society to destroy in order to find happiness could be part of my beauty. I noticed my pudgy, fleshy body against his slender buff frame when we had our up-against-the-lockers steamy high school make out sessions, and this juxtaposition just served to make the size of my belly even more striking to me.

In college I studied philosophy.  I became a feminist.  I started to learn how to deconstruct social constructs and how to be extremely critical of the media.  I knew, intellectually, the stake that certain industries had in nursing my desire to “get that fab bikini bod.”  I tried to balance out my media intake by inundating my brain with awesome fat-positive blogs and such.  I’d like to say that this all was the key to my loving my belly, that I was able to intellectualize myself into self-love, but in reality, that’s not what did it.

Here’s what did: Leah.  Right around the dawn of my queerness I was living in a house of lesbians. Up until this point I had continued to date dudes of the skinny/buff/athletic variety, but was becoming acutely aware of my attraction to women.  Not only that but I was becoming acutely aware of my attraction to my roommate Leah.  She was really cute.  She was an art major, she made me smile a whole lot, and she liked going on adventures.  She had amazing lips, fantastic breasts, and she had a big belly.  Soon my biggest fantasies included Leah in a starring role.  I wanted all of her; her belly was very much a part of her sexiness.  And since the first time I got to sleep next to her, I’ve been hooked.

Since dating Leah, I’ve continued to seek out women with well-articulated bellies.  Bellies have even become a bit of an obsession of mine.  In fact I can barely get myself back in the headspace of thinking that bellies are anything but sexy, and it’s because of that that it’s been so easy to make peace with my own belly.  I know that girls with bellies can be very sexy and why should I be any exception to that rule?

Exhibit B: My facial hair.

A combination of high testosterone levels and my Italian heritage have given me the gift of female facial hair.  As soon as it started to grow in, my mother started asking me if I wanted to go get the hair waxed off.

“It’ll hurt, but it’s quick and then it’s over, and you’ll feel so much better,” she would tell me.

“No thanks,” I’d say.  Eventually she started not just asking me but begging me to go.  She was worried that I would get teased and was trying to protect me, but it upset me.

I only care about my physical appearance because I care about my attractiveness, middle-school-me reasoned.  But any potential date I have shouldn’t be so superficial as to let my facial hair detract him.  Having this facial hair will be a way to weed out the boys who are too shallow.  Quite a progressive thought for a middle-schooler, but unfortunately it was not paired with a strong sense of resolve.  Instead it was paired with, dare I say it, denial and a deep-seeded fear of being perceived as less-than-feminine.

One fateful day in the 7th grade lunchroom, a boy came up to me and said that his friend wanted to go out with me.  He then laughed and proceeded to go back to the boy-table from whence he came. The boy-table erupted with laughter, as the various boys snickered and muttered things under their breath.  I caught one word: “Mustachio.”  I laughed it off, but honestly, having it be made known to you that the boys in your grade consider it a joke that someone would want to go out with you is pretty damn harsh.

I continued to protest when my mom insisted that I go get the hair removed, but now my defenses were getting seriously weak.  She persisted.  She ended up bribing me with one-hundred dollars.  I don’t even know what I did with the money.  I probably spent it all on Avril Lavigne CDs and lipgloss.  My mother made me a sell-out at age 12.  And, as we all know, hair grows back, and so I had to continue what I had started.  The next hundred times I went to get an upper-lip and chin wax, there was no cash incentive.

Fast-forward several years and I am madly in love with a trans*woman named Eva.  She is just coming to terms with her trans identity and is very unsure of herself.  I am very sure of her.  I am very sure that she is beautiful and a woman.  That there is a softness to be found in the bony angles of her body.  That there is a pretty cadence in the whole range of her lower-registered voice.  I love her and I could lie in bed next to her stroking her beard for the rest of my life and die happy.

Her beard.

What could be more feminine than the soft hair that I can run my fingers through, growing from one of the most vulnerable parts of her body?

I’ve never been more attracted to anyone than I was to Eva, and yet I’ll admit that I still catch myself inadvertently acting like the serious fuzz growing on my chin and lip is a barrier standing between my potential attractiveness and me.  I do still get the hair removed.  I do sometimes still worry about what other people will think.  But I am learning to be more okay with my facial hair.  I am learning how to not feel like I need to run home to my pair of tweezers every time I catch a glance of the hair on my face in the mirror.  But part of what queerness means to me is that I can give myself time to reflect on that, and to reinterpret over time the values that I have learned to attach to different aspects of bodies.  My queerness gives me a space to embrace the fact that things like big bellies and facial hair on ladies are huge turn-ons for me, and consequently it is also that space that I am using to feel better about my own body.

Judy Punch is a queer kinky poly lady living in and loving West Philly. She has degrees in philosophy and creative writing and tries hard to strike a balance between spending time in the world of academia and the world of the arts.  Among other things, she’s a huge fan of dark beer, logic puzzles, choral music, and coloring books.

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2 responses to “How My Sexuality Helped Me Feel Sexy

  1. Pingback: The Other side of the Broom- Eff your shaming, I’m Sexy as Hell! « thepurplebroom·

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