Today it was 800 degrees in DC. I’m a dog-walker, so I spent all day outside baking in the searing sun and steaming like a pork bun in the humidity. By 4pm, I was so hot I decided to bike back home shirtless. My girlfriend gave me a cautious look when I stripped off my shirt, and mumbled that she “hoped nobody would be an asshole.”
On the three mile bike ride home, I got quite a few stares, a few grumpy looks, and a whole gaggle of teenage boys shouting “Eww,” and “Put a damn shirt on!”
I expected worse, honestly.
This is what I look like shirtless:
Yeah, I’m a little chubby. Yeah, I have huge mastectomy scars. Yeah I’m kind of pasty and my idiot surgeon made my nipples super uneven and I don’t shave my armpits. So what? This is my body. There’s nothing wrong with it. It is not offensive, and it’s not ok to tell me to cover it up (we are obviously not talking about me baring my genitals, that is still illegal.)
I don’t know whether the people who spoke to me or glared at me or stared at me were upset about my scars and belly or whether they were upset that I was transgressing gender expectations (although whether they thought I was a shitty man or a shitty woman was unclear), but either way, we need to stop thinking there’s a right and a wrong kind of public body.
I’m not talking about what’s illegal here (and the statutes related to public nudity are actually pretty open to interpretation.) I’m talking about how we treat bodies in public. There just are no wrong bodies.