As a woman, I was always taught since childhood to cover my nudity. I was taught to be uncomfortable and shy when I took my clothes off, because that is what a woman from a good family would do. Wearing shorts made me realise that I had legs and knees too. In most parts of India, wearing shorts and showing legs is considered to be a taboo, let alone wearing a bikini openly on a beach or roaming around freely, braless in your own house. Watching other girls wear shorts often made me feel ugly because I did not realise that I had legs or knees. I feel strangely unaware and unprepared for my own body. Wearing shorts for the first time made me feel beautiful and it made me look at myself differently. In a way, it made me feel like I owned my body. Had my parents not been against me wearing shorts, I would never have derived the sense of pleasure that I did wearing it.
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This is something Now Toronto try to address in their annual Body Issue , where they ask activists, writers and performers to bare all and talk about the complicated relationships they have with their bodies. People of different races, genders, disabilities and trans experiences share their stories as they strip for the camera. It entirely blew my perspective out of the water. You can do what you can do to me, but I will still be here, and in this body, and totally unashamed. To my surprise, the body I hated met the idealized standards of Western feminine beauty. I will stand on those heels, naked, in front of anyone, holding a fan to cool myself off from all the struggles. Making myself beautiful. Standing tall. Enjoy that. I figure I should probably learn to love it the way she does.