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How I Carry Toxic Masculinity in my body

“You got ya mama pussy!” the man shouted at me as he rode past on his bike.

A bike-by slur. So courageous of him.

I laughed in the moment because 1) my mama wishes she was stacked like I am and 2) I knew I had won a battle that I had recently undertaken.

Let me backtrack.

My hips, my butt, and my walk were a big source of embarrassment for me when I was younger. It was always a tell-tale sign that I had some “sugar in my tank.” Many of the adults in my life scolded me for walking like a girl (forgive me, this was the late 1900s) – in fact, most of my mannerisms were policed to the point where I learned to always hold myself tightly. I lowered my voice, I firmed my wrists, I cut out all forms of natural self-expression.

Never slip up. Never give way. Never give them something to jump on. It was an all-consuming mentality that forced me to retreat into myself just to survive. I was never living fully in the moment or fully in my body. I was always living in my head because that was the only place I could truly be safe.

I still live with the consequences of this battlefield of an upbringing today, but one of the ways I’m healing myself is by unraveling all those years of locking my body into a heteronormative cage.

Fortunately, I never got to the point of causing real damage and chronic pain, but there are those who aren’t so lucky.

These days I’m letting myself move in all the ways that I wasn’t allowed to as a growing child. I let my hips sway. I let my butt naturally stick out the way it wants to. I actively do (and teach) exercises and stretches that will allow me to move the way my body always wanted to.

So, thank you random man on the street for noticing the work I put in. I’m glad it stirred something in you.

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