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I WAS 17

(And all the other times my body didn’t feel mine)

When will this body feel mine?, I had constantly wondered growing up.

It didn't feel mine at 9.

Halloween in 4th grade was trick or treating dressed in a witch costume- clad in

black from head to toe with a long-sleeved dress that reached my ankles. We had

always spent our Halloweens trick or treating in an upscale exclusive gated village

where our rich uncle obsessed with Dracula lived. This was where it started. This was

the first of the countless catcalls and howls and whistles I would later learn to ignore

and turn a deaf ear to. But at 9 years old, I froze.

"Hey there sexy witch"

"Oh yeah, why don't you show us that ass"

"Yes, walk for us baby"

There were some more whistles, some more howls, some more hips thrusting

into the air. And you'd think educated rich boys from an exclusive village would have

some class...

So...maybe it was my fault then. Maybe this body (in the way it was shaped and

molded) made them do what they did. Maybe I was asking for it, walking passed them

like that-like I wanted to be noticed. Maybe they weren't even talking to me- how

assuming of me. I walked away shaking, ashamed and enveloped in self-doubt. I

closed my eyes and wished for another body- one that wouldn't make other boys do

what those boys did.

It didn't feel mine at 14

Boys are dangerous, that's what I learned in high school.

At recess, a classmate told me I ranked #4 on the class' list of biggest

boobs. That person laughed and before I could even decide if it was funny or not, I took

the cue and laughed too.

There were more uncomfortable jokes we had to sit and laugh through. Jokes

about gratifying themselves because of a girl's boobs, or her legs or her lips or her tight


"They want it",

"They want me",

they would say.

But I didn't want it and I certainly didn't want them but voicing out those

objections were met by downplaying retorts like

"It's just a joke",

"Chill out, you're too serious",

"It's just boy talk".

My voice didn't matter. They were going to take what wasn't theirs anyway.

Somehow, the body I use to walk and run and dance and play- the body I use to

care, to love, to breathe was reduced to something they can use to get off. Every

sexual suggestion, every locker room joke tore my body into bite sized pieces fit for their


That was when it started.

I became all too aware of their eyes wandering around my body as if inspecting

what's theirs for the taking- whatever it is they can use for later. I started to walk faster

around them, and I hunched my back in an attempt to hide my breasts. Hypervigilant

habits I wouldn't have unlearned until much later on in the future.

Boys are dangerous- something that has held true long after high school.

It didn't feel mine at 17.

College had me parading around a new found confidence and sureness of self. I

was studying in my dream university, I had a booming social life with one alcohol filled

night after another, and I had even gotten myself a boy.

He was 21 and was my first real boyfriend. Teenage recklessness and

impulsivity threw all rationality out the window.

At the back of the car in our garage, he smashed his lips on mine. And just like

how it was with everything in the relationship, I was young and naive and was railroaded

into following his pace.

This is too rough, I had thought to myself but just as quickly dismissed those

feelings. He's older so he should know better about how these things go. I followed suit

as I always did. But then his hands started to roam.

I said "no" and shook my head and tried to push him away. But all my "noes"

seemed to fly above his head because he proceeded to jam his hand into my pants. It

hurt. My head started spinning and I had stopped pushing back and before I knew it, he

was done touching me. He kissed me goodnight and left, as if everything was normal;