Ellen Sheehan is a transition year student in Eureka Secondary School, in Kells County Meath, Ireland. She wrote this piece on her blog about how people react to the clothes we wear. Please follow Ella’s blog at https://unspokenbutdefinitelyfelt.wordpress.com/
I had and always will be the girl, who thrives off the idea of beauty. Who loves the idealism behind makeup and fashion. Of course as little girls we have always been taught ‘the pursuit of perfection, is a contraction, we, as human beings are imperfect’. Yet show me a magazine that hasn’t thought me to “love myself”on page 3 thanks to a celebrities cellulite, and “change myself” on page 5 thanks to a new diet and fitness plan followed by that same celebrity.
I am not here to write about the problematics of modern day beauty culture. Because frankly, we will never like ourselves with the help of 100 pages, a glossy cover, and photoshop.
I am writing about what happened to me, what has happened to you, and what will happen to at least 1000 girls all over Ireland today.
‘Today I am going to feel perfect”
I started with my eyebrows, followed with concealer. Foundation followed with contour. Eyeshadow, followed with lipstick.
I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, I looked great. Yes I am allowed (and so are you) to think you look great. But never more than great, though, you don’t want to give off the idea you actually love yourself or anything? (what a crazy, arrogant, and deluded thought, thinking of yourself so highly?)
Next, came the clothes. I didn’t want to just look great. I wanted to look more than great.
I found my tartan A line skirt, and a pair of black opaque tights. I sat on my bed and gradually folded my tights up past my calves, over my thighs and eventually to my waist. Followed by my skirt, struggling past my hips, and gliding past, my slim waist.
I ran around my room, half naked, with my skirt and tights. Until I came across a bag, untouched, in the corner of my room.
I knew I was going to wear it. It was cream, sparkled when the light flickered, and tight.
And it was a V neck.
Or so what you mistook, as an open invitation to gawk at my chest.
I put it on and fixed it accordingly. I looked in the mirror. I looked sexy. I looked attractive. I looked amazing.
But one thing I definitely looked like, was asking for it.
Sadly, you know what I mean when I say “it”. In our world, I am now looking, asking and begging to be, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and/or raped.
But, that day, all I truly was looking for, was just to feel perfect.
And I did. Until you.
I got out of my car, and began making my way out of the car park, and put on my black blazer, trying to hide the enemy. My chest.
At first, I grabbed the attention of you. I was walking down the stairs and I caught you staring. At first I shrugged it off and pretended I didn’t notice.
Second came you, I was walking on the path with the wind blowing in my face, and through the constant chatter and atmosphere of Dublin city, you still found the time to openly stare at my chest. I fail to remember you even looking at my face. Thats because you didn’t see me you saw breasts.
I wrapped my blazer, fully around my bust. Because it wasn’t enough to close it with a button. I felt that I had to close my self off, to the world incase “I gave off the wrong idea”
I went for something to eat in a cafe. When I got asked if I wanted to take off my blazer because of the heat of the cafe, I said I was freezing.
I wasn’t freezing. I was embarrassed.
When I finally couldn’t deal with the heat, I took it off. And for a moment no one was around and I didn’t care. I was talking, laughing and momentarily forgetting about the consequences for trying to feel perfect. It felt nice, to not feel objectified.
When I left the cafe, while carrying the blazer in my hand, I stepped into the shopping centre, where the eyes of men and women failed to reach my face but only the recognition of my body. I returned my blazer to the former position and tried to go about my day in peace.
This time, I was looking, asking and begging not to be sexualised.
I was made to feel like I should hate my body. But I didn’t and I don’t. What is ironic about breasts, ass and anything associated with femininity, is that society idolises them, praises them and glorifies them. But the second you stomach the confidence to be that little bit sexy, you’re looking, asking and begging to be, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and/or raped.
But I wasn’t asking for it. And neither was she.
Right now I feel enraged and empowered. Enraged, because you and society stole my sense of inner perfection and confidence. Empowered because I have attempted to show my objection towards you and societies sexualisation of my body.
I am 16 years old, and yesterday I experienced what countless females experience on a daily basis all over the world.
And if I was truly asking for this to happen, if I was truly asking to be gawked at by your oppression, then if this happened to your daughter, why would you blame that man on the street and not her?
Because I am that girl, I am somebodies daughter, and you were that man.
Forgive me, if I am being critical, but I imagine the burning question of this piece is,
‘But how tight/low/revealing was the top though?’
The answer? Not enough to be made feel like I was looking, asking and begging to be, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and/or raped.