Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Wednesday's Women No. 21

I fell asleep this morning to a dream of my younger self. My young self at the age of 11 before I had breasts and at a time when I still believed I could do anything. No one had put the brakes on my activities at this point.

I was an Amazon who jumped out of trees at wild horses. I wore a mask like Zorro and a cape like Batman and I insisted that they be red like the colour of life. I wielded a sword like Kublai Khan and had a bow and a quiver of arrows like every other fairy archer. No one saw me as anything other than a beautiful child.

I was to be my own person. Just as young and free as I always had been but something got in the way of that. Something that others saw, that I did not yet see, something that didn’t matter to me but mattered to them.

My breasts appeared at the young age of 12 and it changed me in the eyes of others. I went from a girl who could jump out of trees to a woman who had to sit with her legs crossed on a chair. From fun and free to prim and proper all within one year.

I learned at 12 how the division of the sexes worked. How girls could be seen as a thing, an object, someone else’s fantasy, while boys were still allowed childhood invisibility.

I realized even at 12 that it was unfair that I now had to be someone other than who I really was, while the boys around me were still encouraged to be whoever they wanted to be. I was stymied just because I had grown breasts.

I promised myself that when and if I ever had children that if I had daughters they would be allowed to be whoever they wanted to be. And that the minute anyone tried to make them feel like objects and change their reality, I would jump out of trees at wild horses and remind them of the possibility of who they could be.


Dreamers Dream said...

what wise little girl,
grown as a brave woman.
this is wonderful
i don't think i can ever find the right word to describe this little piece.


Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Ahhh, Renee, so well said. I wonder if the same thing still happens to girls in this day & time. I was a late bloomer and I've never been the least bit sorry for it. I'm still have some of the mask-wearing, cape-hugging qualities of old, but they are somewhat hidden away. Seems the closer I get to the outdoors, wildlife, and horses the more is reappears!

Björnik said...

Hi Renee, I just love reading your posts. It's very refreshing to find something written with a heart and sincerety. If you lived in my country then you probably played all the way till college, that is if you have a baby face.:) My mom grew breasts at 16 and had her period at 17. She too loves jumping from trees and riding the bicycle with 4 of siblings aboard.

Anyway, I had to agree with you that some men actually look at women as mere objects of their fantasies. Wish all those young girls have a mom like you.:)

Aleksandra said...

Hvala iz dubine mog srca Renee!Thank you again for reminding me (it means in my language,thank you from the bottom of my heart)you are such a beautiful soul,have a good day dear! Kindness you are, love from Sandra.

Gina again said...

Every girl should have a bit of Batman, Zorro, and Kublai Khan in them. We need these character traits even more after we grow into womanly bodies.

Sarah said...

I guess I was the lucky one! I was the warrior girl all my growing up years! Guess I still am. My Mother made it so, I think. She made sure I was sheltered from the world and allowed to follow my interests. You see she was the girl in your piece- I was the lucky one to be her daughter!! Love, Sarah

Bella Sinclair said...

Good morning, beautiful lady. My long day is ending, and I am winding down. It's past my bedtime, but I just wanted to visit you once again. Today's earlier exchange reduced me to tears, but only because you've come to mean so much to me in such little time.

I was somewhat of a late bloomer, too. Heck, I think I'm still waiting to bloom in many ways. I do remember, however, some early instances of being objectified that have stuck firmly with me over the years. I remember once on the school bus, a boy stuck his hand below me in a very sudden and rude way. I was shocked and wanted to slap him, but I didn't. A few years later, at an ob/gyn appt, the male doctor was examining my breasts. I usually asked for the female doctor, but she was busy this time, so he switched in at the last minute. Anyhow, his examination was completely different from hers. He examined my breasts while I was sitting. He did not ask me to lift my arms or anything. Plus, he was leaning with his pelvis against my knee. I was young and naive and too shocked to say anything. But later, after I realized, I became disgusted and never returned.

I want to teach my girls to embrace their femininity, but not to let it hinder their dreams. I hope I succeed.


glorv1 said...

I was always a tomboy when I was young. There was a time when my cousin and I would play little ladies drinking tea. I liked the idea of running around acting crazy better, I still do. Me, I was a late bloomer. Have a great Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

What a great memory you have a an amazing ability to share it. My early teen years were so sad, I don't remember my feelings about blooming.
Thinking of you, Love, Barb

Daria said...

I too developed my breasts early and I didn't like it. My period came at 12 ... I was way to young.

It took my innocence away.

lakeviewer said...

You consciously changed all those expectations that have crushed our girls. There is a wonderful book on this subject,Reviving Ophelia, by Mary Pipher, Ph.D.

We ought to have a special day, each week. dedicated to issues affecting young women. I spent my entire professional life advocating for them. There is a lot to be done, more now than ever, even in developed countries.

Shelly said...

Very well written, I think the sentence: “I learned at 12 how the division of the sexes worked. How girls could be seen as a thing, an object, someone else’s fantasy, while boys were still allowed childhood invisibility.” is so profound and wonder - is that the starting point of looking and judging ourselves as we think others do? Had we as little girls not been stymied would we this day be walking around more comfortable in our skin just like our sons, fathers and husbands are?
I love the picture, you are the Amazon who still jumps out of trees at wild horses … I for one believe you can do anything.

Julie said...

Bravo!!! So true!!! How was it when it happened to your daughters? How did you fight for them, and was it successful, or did society win out?

Ces said...

Hah! I had no breast when I was growing up. I did not own a bra until I was 19 and even then it had nothing to hold. I only weighed 90 pounds. I was not anorexic I was just thin. Then at 26 I reached the 100 pound mark, I got them just in time for my marriage the following year and oh my God! I loved them. I love my breasts, even up to now, even when they look like a mother’s breast. I was thirteen when I found out I could no longer “play with boys” I was playing on the sand pit building a city out of cardboard cars and houses that I designed and colored. I carved the streets from the sand hill. Then I ran inside the house and told my mother. She said I can no longer play like I used to play, crouching in the sand, climbing trees, I protested. Then every month I became very ill and bedridden with pain that sometimes I missed school and my mother would just sit by my bed rubbing my back and abdomen and running her fingers through my head and pulling my hair very gently until I would fall asleep. Somehow I did not hate being a girl. She said I could still be myself, strong and brave and ambitious that I did not need men to complete me but men will like me and want me. She said that was fine as long as they complimented or enhanced me, no subjugate or control me. My friends started getting cancer of the breasts. They are all beautiful. One asked me what she should do the moment she found out she had cancer. I did not know what to say. I just cried with her. I told her I did not want her to die. She had surgery and lost her hair and still she was beautiful. She survived and one day she came to work all flat-chested and bald wearing a head cover. She said it was hot. I told her to take it off but she was afraid to offend people. Offend people! Nonsense! I had my hair cut very short that people thought I was a boy from behind, sometimes they called me sir and I would turn around and they see my face and apologize. So I would say, are you apologizing because I am a woman or because you thought I was a man and that made them ill at-ease and embarrassed and they would walk away. I thought we should not have breasts if they would end up giving us cancer but then what about life? Should we not live because we will die anyway? I do not want you to die. I have not touched your hands but you have touched my heart.

Renee said...

Shelly, once again.

You are so intuitive and I believe that is exactly the time.

Love Renee

Anonymous said...

alright amazon mama.

studio lolo said...

Dear Renee,

My wise Winnipeg Warrior friend.
Your daughters are so lucky to have you. I know they know that.

I didn't have breasts until I became overweight. I always thought "cleavage" was one of our presidents :)

I do know what you mean though about puberty changing a young girl's life while the boys continue their masquerade.
Nothing has changed.
Everything has changed.

You're a fabulous writer with such wisdom to share.
Thank you!

Mickey said...

You are so smart, the way you write is so amazing that your reader gets what you are saying and can find themselves in your post. It is so true that having breasts and periods changed everything at that time and I totally agree with what Shelly said ; that had we as girls not been stymied would we be more comfortable in our own skin today.

Kelly Kilmer said...

Brave, wise warrior woman, you are.
i love this post...thank you. thank you. thank you.

Karin said...

oh Renee can I relate to this one!! i love it - you take me right back to that free, tee climbing, strong athletic girl I was...

Dawn said...

You are so wise, I love what you say!
I was fortunate (although I didn't think so at the time) my boobs started to develop about 15 and stopped at 16, they forgot to grow anymore so I had little boobs. I hated the fact that I had nothing there to make me feel grown up, to feel like a woman. So I thought forget about it (for a while anyway) and carried on being a tom boy, loved to play football with the boys,they looked on me as a friend (probably due to the fact I had no boobs)
As I got into my 20's I wanted boobs and then in my late 30's I got them, a 34c - no more little 30aa's for me. Now I feel good...boobs and women huh!

Delwyn said...

Good morning Renee

I have been thinking about your post whilst I have been away doing my obligatory office work in his 'empire'...

I can't remember ever talking to my girls about the expectations of women and think that perhaps the best way girls learn how to be capable, independent women is through example. I have never thought of myself as anything other than someone with the same rights and opportunities as men. I know that statement is idealistic and not always apparent in the real world, but that has been my modus operandi and I think my girls have taken its message as a given.

Alice said...

I hated that when it happened to me. I was eleven and really wasn't prepared for anything to change. My mother and older sister were both much later in 'blooming' so they hadn't thought to prepare me at such a young age either. Suddenly things like my extensive collection of dungarees and my Action Man were referred to in the context of lesbianism!

I do think it is so sad that if you look around a toy shop now, here at least, girls aren't gravitating in the least towards the toys that 'do' stuff, or make stuff, or cars or diggers or slime or anything fun. They go straight for the pink. It's getting worse by the year... I try to get my youngest sister interested in other things but I'm too late. At almost five she is a fully-fledged Princess...
Don't it make ya sick eh?

:) hope you're doing well

Alice xxx

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

Your post reminds me of how young girls (as young as three years)in China used to have their feet bound because small feet were a sign of feminity in their culture.

We have come far, but not far enough. Strong mothers who love and respect themselves will ultimately raise daughters who feel the same, and raise sons who will respect women for who they are.

Good night, Renee:)


Zom said...

I think the hormones effect us too. Apparently we become a bit more compliant with the estrogen and other hormones. It all changes back after menopause though. We become warriors again.Yippee!

Tessa said...

Always so beautifully written, sometimes controversial, often humorous, occasionally tear jerking and even frightening but always, in all ways, so thought-provoking and utterly memorable.

PS. I still jump out of trees at wild horses - boobs an' all!

Taylor said...

Aunty Renee,
I need to give my mom more credit than I do! She must have done something right because I never stopped cape wearing, tree jumping, arrow shooting and painting my nails too. I also don't remember every being turned down any opportunity that my brothers had been offered; perhaps I was given even more.
On the contrary, I also never grew these "Ste. Marie" boobs that I thought through visual I was promised!! Heck, to date my 12 year old cousins are more developed than me!! Perhaps one day...
Sidebar: I also stayed home from school the first time I had my period b/c my mom was already at work and I was left to tell my dad I got my period. This was a man who was an expert at raising 3 sons and JESUS did this throw him for a loop!! hahaha. Great man!

love you, loved the post.

loved these comments
"that had we as girls not been stymied would we be more comfortable in our own skin today."

"Strong mothers who love and respect themselves will ultimately raise daughters who feel the same, and raise sons who will respect women for who they are."

kenflett said...

breast or no breasts, put on your cap, slip a mask over your face, and jump on your boy when he comes home from work.

Anonymous said...


It is haunting how you can describe such complex emotions. For many girls getting breasts means they can be girls no longer but objects - forever!


pRiyA said...

Ever since you've posted this and I first read it, I can't stop thinking about this.
I am glad that I have finally found that mother WITHIN me who is as protective as the woman in your post and who allows me to grow into who I AM and not what i am 'meant to be'.