At a very young age, my thick thighs and legs would attract attention in the dresses and skirts I wore. I didn’t really think much about it. I just knew I was bigger than most of the girls my age, my hips complementing my butt. But it was nothing I cared for or even really paid any attention to at the age of seven or eight. I treated the skirts and dresses like the young little boys treated their shorts and jeans, which is to say carelessly. I used to run, play, skip, and sit like everyone else around me — but that was the problem. My tías would always remind me to sit like a lady, “Siéntate como una niña” they would say, and close my legs together.
Whether they were trying to protect me from someone or something or teach me etiquette, I’ll never know, but little me couldn’t confine to their norms. I loved playing in my dresses, running around and not crossing my legs, because crossing my legs was very uncomfortable!
That was the age I learned I had something of value between my legs; something that was for me only; something I had to protect and my mother was trying to protect, too. She would often remind me to not let anyone touch me there and to tell her if anyone tried to.
I was learning the value of my body, the temple it was, and how it was for no one else but me. But that perspective changed as my body and desires changed. I became curious about my own sexuality; I was curious and in need. I wanted to be touched – with love, grace, and consent.
In relationships expressed with lust or love, I allowed my body to be touched by others. But all of my lovers left me with different emotions and feelings. Sometime those feelings created deeper feelings; sometimes they created anger, pain, hurt. It felt right when they asked how I felt, how I was doing, and made me feel safe. But some didn’t. For some, there was a shift in energy, like they got what they wanted and that’s it. That’s when they left something in me and took something from me.
For a long time, I blamed my body for the decisions I made; for the heartache, and disappointments. It was like my body had allowed those things and not me. But my body was preyed on. The curves, the butt, it was all something that contributed to my “Latinidad.”
The ideas men and women had created about Latina women were depicted on my body. The “Latinas are freaks and have the best pussy” tweets, captions, Facebook statuses, and conversations became more than that; they were desires of me and what my body could do and offered.
My body became seen as nothing more than meat. The value I saw began to disappear. Every time I gave a little or a lot of myself, every time I loved, I was showed I wasn’t worthy of that love being reciprocated. Sex became sex. Everything that could be beautiful about the connection between two people became a moment of pleasure that was too often one-sided. After he comes, he goes. Not once making sure If I was done, if I was good, if I felt good. Why wasn’t I demanding that I got the same pleasure I gave? I was afraid of being too pushy, of caring too much, of being too emotionally involved. My body became theirs, no longer my own.
I wish someone then would had reminded me that my body was more than what could be seen. It was more than the stares and the grabs.
I began to blame myself for what I was feeling, for the lack of honesty with myself about what I wanted and was looking for and what I was running from. My sexuality wasn’t about the stereotypes created of me as a Latina; it wasn’t about what I wanted men to feel or think about me, but what I felt during and after sex.
I got to the point where men were becoming distractions from my previous heartbreak. I didn’t need others to see me as sexy in order to feel sexy and I no longer needed the act of sex to express my sexuality. I reclaimed my body by praising it for everything it is — a home to me and my soul. My sexuality journey has been about rediscovering my body and learning what it wants and needs. It’s been about learning how things make me feel, the consequences behind them, and deciding if that’s what I want, not someone else.