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What Does The Body Say?

What Does The Body Say\\?

Usually when I meet people, my introduction (even in very personal interactions), I often say that a large part of what I work with and what I am, is the body. My engagement with the body (with all the flesh, skin etc), started a few years ago, during a time when I was also trying to recover from a long period of depression and self-injury. My mind was a mess, after the suggestion of a friend; I started finding meaning in the body. 

We grow up learning and imbibing that the body is something that needs to be controlled, disciplined and kept under the thumb. I also learnt that many things which had to do with the body and bodily desires are to be suppressed and kept buried. Body and bodily functions are uncontrollable, irrational and instinctual (wonder who else has similar epithets awarded to them?). On further thought and reading I also found out that the division of mind and body is similar to that of the division between masculinity and femininity. 

While all things grand like politics, philosophy, science, mathematics and considered to be the domain on both men (cis-gendered of course) and that of the mind. This abstract division somehow creates a hierarchy between different categories. While men belong to the realm of rationality, women are bodily creatures. Women’s (also people on the lower end of the social spectrum) primary functions in patriarchal setups are mostly bodily. They are to do household chores, most of whom need work of the body (yet women are seen as not strong enough physically), to give pleasure to their male counterparts and of course- the reproductive function. Till today women are seen as baby-making machines and that event seems to have a centrality over anything else in their life. 

Engaging with the body and trying to unlearn all those repressive mechanisms that one is conditioned into didn’t come easy and is not absolute either. While I was reading a lot on the body, I also began to work on it in my practice. Which meant that sometimes it was as “awkward” and “weird” as standing upside down and just observing what that feels like. In times of extreme stress, a closed foetal body position helped. I gradually figured that in order to cope in times of extreme anxiety, I needed movement. Even if it meant just crawling on ground to feel stable or stretching to release tension. In a few months, I could see that the way I walk has changed, the way I dress has changed, the way I navigate and move through a physical space has changed. 

I have had a very closed body language since I was a kid; mostly walking with arms closed, minimizing myself in any public space. I was of course also ashamed of my breasts, my buttocks, my thighs which seemed heavier than they should have been, so I spent a lot of my energy hiding them. That didn’t help my self-esteem.

While I am nowhere close to an expert understanding of the body (I doubt if such expertise even exists), I am more comfortable in my skin. I know the clothes I wear reflect my identity and aren’t something I put on just to cover myself. I know that confronting and understanding my own body has also helped me unlearn a lot of internalised misogyny. There is still a long road to go but don’t our bodies deserve love and care regardless of anything? 

AUTHOR-

An_J 

ILLUSTRATION-

Palak Bansal

Daksha Giri 

Note: The content published here is all original created by me.

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