Weaponizing Women’s Bodies Against Themselves

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is today. As the Secretary-General of the UN says, a devious source of violence against women is power imbalances. One of the biggest power imbalances I see today is the weaponizing of women´s bodies against themselves.

I don´t want an adolescent girl to walk up the CVS counter and go through a little inward cringe because she´s buying tampons. Having a period is not shameful. Is it shameful to buy shampoo because you want to wash your hair? Is it shameful to buy lotion because your skin is feeling dry? Heck no.

I don´t want any postpartum mama to go an OB checkup and get shrugged off when she mentions that she´s experiencing incontinence. No, actually, doctor who hasn´t updated their training since the 90´s, it´s not just a normal part of life after having a baby, and heck yes, you should be offering a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist.

I don´t want anybody out there going for an intense run because you´re just so fed up with everything, even though every time you do that your back gives you pain for a week, so you´re slugging ibuprofen and getting really grouchy. It doesn´t have to be that way. You´re not in a battle with your betrayer of a body. See if you can turn down self-directed anger. Learn what you need to adjust in your breathing and posture so your back will feel great when you run. You can be in harmony within your own body.

Is it shameful that we sweat in an exercise class? No. Is it shameful that there´s pee on our undies after the workout class? No. The only difference is that sweat is a nice, healthy adaptation to the body getting too hot, and pee coming out when you exercise is a common but most likely fixable and temporary situation.

Is it shameful that you´ve got some prolapse going on? No. Your body did what it did to get that baby born. So okay. A prolapse diagnosis is not the end of your active life. You can still pick up your children. You can still move and dance and run and have fun. Just take some time to educate yourself about how to do it safely. You don´t need to sink into shame and depression.

Shame comes from the internalization of societal norms. Come on, people used to want women to feel ashamed if their ankles were visible, or if they went to the store without a bra, or if they drank a beer in public.

Don´t let it get to you, girl. You´re surviving and thriving in a world that needs to make room for your reality.

Even if right now you pee whenever you sneeze, you are still desirable.

Even if your belly sticks out, you´re still a beautiful person worthy of love.

Even if you´re exhausted and your neck constantly aches these days, you are still intelligent, capable, and able.

No matter what, you are still strong. You are still whole.

Your body is not your enemy. Your body is…you. And you love yourself.

Fight back against shame for you and for the other women in your life.

If you want to learn more about the UN´s multiyear campaign, kicking off today, Generation Equality Stands Against Rape, you can read inspiring messages, watch videos from around the world, and get shareable gifs and pics like this Gabrielle Union quote here.