CLUTCH Vol. 5: My Body is Not a Wonderland


I am, in every sense of the word, a klutz. It's difficult for me to avoid physical objects and navigating through the world is a constant struggle for me. You may say that I am physically unaware and that I live in my head rather than though my body. Two weekends ago, as part of our weekly Clutch workshops, we explored the body. More specifically, the body as prize, possession and art. As a pre-cursor to our body moulding workshop with Tim Manalo, he invited us to the last of a series of monthly discussion sessions on Filipino readings, facilitated by Christine Balmes. Appropriately, our reading for that session was titled "The Filipina's Breast", written by Nerissa Balce. It is certainly a powerful title. When I first read it, immediately I was struck by feelings of sexual shame and embarrassment as if the spotlight was on not even two, but one breast, and it was mine.

Now extrapolate this situation and imagine being a Filipino woman in the year 1914. You've been going about your daily life until one day, a photo is snapped in front of you. And not just by anybody, but by a member of a group of foreigners on a mission to colonize your homeland. You are not just seen, but preserved as a still image. How do you feel? Objectified? Helpless? An urgent desire to cover up? Yes to all, but most of all, probably an intense sense of self consciousness and awareness.

Last week's body moulding activity has done exactly this. It has made me become more aware that this part of my body does exist. It’s as if the moulding has affirmed its existence and yes, at first there may have been fear and shame. But these feelings were slowly stripped away by a newfound appreciation of the art and the wonder that is the body. Stripping away the fear and shame took courage. When it came to moulding my breasts, I had two choices, to look at it as being "exposed" and "naked" or to look at it as being "free" and "confident". I chose the latter. It's my hope that this workshop will help me become a little bit more self and body aware and then maybe I won't run into things so often.