Everyday the human body is under attack, under scrutiny and under investigation. The media and the patriarchal hierarchy society that we are victims of train us to shame our own bodies. Fashion, the beauty industry, media portrayals of success, television and film and our government support and play on our insecurities and especially target women, the LGBTQ community and more specifically trans people feel the pressures of body image issue everyday. Throughout this writing I will explore a few different ways that we all as humans endure and suffer from body image issues and in part 2 of this topic I will explore how body image effects trans lives and explicitly how it effects me in my everyday life.
Khloe Kardashian and even Wendy Williams have both been targets of media scandals in the past where their womanhood and cis identities were attacked. I came across an article online and the heading read “Is Khloe Kardashian a man?”. The article went on to say “she’s really big and wears those 7 inch heels. That’s a sure sign of a tranny.” There are two major issues; the first problem is language. There seems to be no distinct understanding that there is a difference between “a man” and a “tranny” and the term “tranny” itself which is actually a trans person. Society tries to shame trans identities by using words like “tranny” or referring to trans women as men, reinforcing the notion that trans identities are not real. The second issue with the statement from the article is that it encourages the belief of being a woman of a certain height and deciding to wear tall heels or anything deemed “extra” your identity is then questionable and you are not cis enough so you must be trans. Wendy Williams has endured so much harassment about her cis status that she’s made a public statement to abc news saying she understands why her identity is being questioned. She shares that because she’s tall, has strong features and wears wigs she’s always endured verbal harassment. The constant harassment and policing of her identity pushed her to make a public announcement to confirm she is cis. Our society urges us to believe that strong features and height on a woman is not beautiful or unnatural therefore her womanhood needs to be questioned.
On Americas Next Top Model as well as Million Dollar Matchmaker there were two women called out and interrogated about the authenticity of their breasts. In a nation that demands perfection we purposely try to discredit those who alter their bodies in their own search of perfection. I’ve always truly loathed the question “Are your breasts real?”because the opposite of real is fake. Simply because someone decides to have breast augmentation doesn’t mean that their breasts are “fake” because they in fact do exist so they are real, augmented or not. What is the benefit of gaining that sort of personal information do? Their breasts are already different and it’s not likely that they will change them so why ask? How does how many or how few surgeries a person has had determine their womanhood manhood or non binary status? The only purpose behind these questions is to attempt to scrutinize a persons identity, and letting that person know that they are not perfect as their bodies are not their own and therefore up for public debate.
Breasts are not the only thing in question and deemed as ‘fake’ I have often had my hair questioned. I love a versatility of of hair styles and I have worn a countless number of weaves, a few wigs and my natural hair throughout my lifetime. People often assume that no matter what my hair looks like that I’m wearing a wig. I can recollect the very day several years ago when I went to a salon and received my first Brazilian blowout with my natural hair and later that day when I went to work my manger questioned if I was wearing a wig, it was neither a wig or weave it was all my hair. And more recently someone made a comment about me sleeping in my wig and after telling him my hair was not a wig it was a weave he grabbed a fist full of my hair on the scalp of my head head and pulled at it telling me he was “just checking”. Even someone I met for the the very first time said to me “I like your wig”. And when having causal conversation with someone I’d only met twice she spoke about wigs and referenced me pointing to my hair. Where do these assumptions come from? For the record I do want to state that I am not upset nor do I hold any type of animosity at all with any of them but it’s not appropriate to assume anything about another persons being because in this specific case they were all wrong, I was not wearing a wig. Because of what they said to me it began to cause me to question my own identity and way of being. Is there something about my natural hair or weaves that look “wig-ish” or was this simply something they assumed because I was trans and trans identities are often associated with the idea of a costume (a false identity) that included a wig. It’s important that we take responsibility for our use of language and how we inquire about another’s identity or being because we can cause insecurity where there was none.
Stay tuned for part 2!
Next Topic: The Body Image issue pt. 2 of 2