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My Vagina Resists Self-Objectification


This year marked the 20th anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, and local activists were invited to speak about what or why their vagina resists as a part of the performance. I was honored to be invited to participate, as the Vagina Monologues has been an important part of my personal grief process, liberation and celebration of my vagina and my feminine power.

The Vagina Monologues gave rise to the V-Day movement, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls (cisgender, transgender and gender non-conforming). The Vagina Monologues performances raise money for this organization, and V-Day activists work around the world to end harassment, rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery.

I very quickly knew the topic for what my vagina resisted, as I have often been perplexed by the way many of us passionately fight for women’s rights, and yet perpetuate violence on ourselves everyday with our thoughts about our bodies.

The theme of self-objectification, along with my fierce love for Wonder Woman, inspired the following thoughts. I look forward to hearing your reflections. And please share with your friends, colleagues, clients, and all the women and girls in your life who you long to be free.

From the radiance of my heart to the radiance of yours,




Wonder Woman, the most popular superhero of all-time, was created as a symbol for the struggle for women’s rights throughout the 20th century. Her only weakness was that she would lose her strength if a man bound her in chains. As a guide for reclaiming beauty and power, I have observed a pattern in which we as women bind ourselves in chains. And this pattern, this self-objectification, my vagina resists.

Objectification comes in many forms and leaves a deep pain and consequence. We are treated as objects and so we learn to treat ourselves as objects. We become hypervigilant of our bodies, paralyzed by distorted thoughts rather than flowing with the embodied experience of being. We learned that in this object body we had power. Yet this power was confusing. Shame and flesh became intertwined.

If seeing a person as an object is the first step in justifying violence towards that person, then seeing ourselves as an object is the first step in justifying violence towards ourselves.

My vagina resists self-objectification, because I betray myself when I spend my precious time violently judging and breaking my body into parts – belly, thighs, butt, breasts. The violence of my thoughts, and sometimes even my actions, perpetuates the violation, and I am again in chains, but this time, from my own mind. Lost in criticism and shame, I forget the truth of who I am is my soul beauty. My power lies not in my physical body, but in the radiance of my heart when I show up in this world with kindness and love as my offering.   

My vagina resists self-objectification, and so I challenge this culture’s toxic message of valuing thinness and youth as chains that continue to bind me. I resist the oppression of weightism and sizeism and bring awareness to thin privilege. I am free from these chains with my lasso of truth – a practice of radical acceptance and self-compassion, embracing all parts of me.

My vagina resists self-objectification, because through this process, I have seen myself in competition with my sisters. I have judged their bodies to measure my own worth and value. I resist objectifying my sisters and choose to connect Soul to Soul.

My vagina resists self-objectification, because in defense, I also objectify you, and as a consequence am unable to see your beauty and the gifts our connection offers one another.

My vagina resists self-objectification.  And so I take the first step in healing….

To my sisters who I have judged, to my lovers who I have also objectified, to my body who bears the sorrow of this self-cruelty, to my Soul that longs to be free… I say to all of you, please forgive me.

I release these self-imposed chains, reclaiming my power, free to share with you the beauty and wonder of this woman.



Skills: Beauty Lost

From Contributor: Katie Kelleher

When did you stop experiencing your own beauty?

To stop experiencing one’s own beauty is to fall out of love with oneself and one’s own dreams. It is not dissimilar to a little girl parading around in her tiara and frilly white dress, swirling around and painting with the blurring colors of the world in her mind’s eye the perfect, magical wedding day with blossoming flowers, glass slippers and a prince charming; then one day waking up middle-aged and hung-over in a Las Vegas hotel room bound for life by the signature of the Undead Elvis himself to a guy who she can only justify must have looked better in his profile picture.

Okay, maybe that is a harsh metaphor, but is it not true that we could at once simply check in bright and bold crayon the “Yes” box on the “I like you, do you like me?” note-to-self without much care, and now find ourselves looking into the existential and legal constraints on a single-party divorce? What changed?

For me, it was an affair with self-doubt. No matter where I was in life, everything was beautiful so long as I could still believe in the hopes and dreams I had for myself, and in my potential to claim possibilities. Somehow, the process became daunting, and I began to lose that faith, to see the beauty in where I stood and the direction in which I headed. Self-doubt slipped in, whispering in my ear, and began to feel like a safer partner, its sole charm being the reassurance that without the belief in beauty, there is no disappointment. I began to believe this more and more as I drifted further from my true self.


All parts are welcome and come together to create your unique beauty.

Long backstory story short, following a bit of a mental break, I spent pretty much the entirety of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 bouncing from one psychiatric hospital to the next, with brief punctuations of having a go at residential treatment centers and a few short stops home, perhaps granted out of mercy so I could wash my clothes and pay rent for the essentially abandoned studio apartment I was haunting.

As a direct result, I was “let go” from my full-time job (I imagine the scene in Titanic, stiff hand shaking me off and me sinking to the bottom with a face left frozen and emotionless from icicles and, perhaps in my case, a touch of electric shock therapy. But hey, who wants to be the dead weight on a life raft, I suppose). My savings quickly dwindled down to pocket change and lint, and desperation took hold. My daily pumping out of job applications turned from carefully selected qualified positions and respectful letters to desperate pleas and the scrounging of whatever basic skills I could tap into (I have two hands with only one crooked finger, can I do your yard work? I have been eating and feeding off plates I washed myself for 20 years with only one cat dead of mysterious circumstances. Can I scrub your dishes? And so on…).

To compliment some PRN work I eventually found at a substance abuse rehab and make up for what still lacked in the bill department, I took on whatever random opportunity presented itself. I even once was paid to help a guy with warrants escape over state lines, and another time made twenty bucks for showing up at a guys house, ringing the doorbell, throwing a shaving cream pie in his face (conscientious of any possible food allergies), and walking away. You can meet some VERY interesting people through Craigslist. Anyway, back to the point: my most recent gig is in making furniture. I take broken pieces of old furniture that has been discarded without any sentiment by the previous owner, broken hubcaps I find abandoned on the side of the road, scrap metal and wood that was set to be burned, empty or cracked glass bottles, anything really; I clean them up, cut or bend them into shape, put them together in some new way and create new life and purpose. I cannot even begin to tell you how humbling and rewarding this has been for me. To take something old, used, broken, discarded and forgotten and turn it into something beautiful has helped me regain hope and purpose, even for myself. It felt as if my very life and any aspirations had cracked and crumbled to a million broken pieces, then left abandoned in some psych ward or other as the world carried on. I lost my sense of self, felt damaged, unwanted, without meaning. But now I know I can be rebuilt, remade into something even better, more unique, perhaps made more beautiful than before because of the cracks and scars, the marks of life history. Your pieces can tessellate, and even the ones you believe beyond repair, ugly, useless are needed to make the whole. Every piece can play a role in your new life. I am beginning to believe in this, and I hope you can, too.

ThinkingKKAbout the Contributor: They call me Katie Kelleher, but my Native American name is “Hey You, Get Off Our Reservation.” The Chief  (of police) himself gave me the name, so I guess I am a pretty important person. It was just a little wordy for my now Asheville, North Carolina driver’s license. I am originally from New Orleans, and then landed in a number of other locations dotted along the Gulf of Mexico until attending college and playing soccer for East Mississippi. I transferred to Brevard College here in the mountains, graduated with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and Physiology, and have since remained in the area black-hole-suctioned by a love for the beauty of it and the exploration and recreation it offers. Since immersing myself into the depths of anatomy, chemistry, biomechanics, and late night coffee runs, I have since utilized my degree as a pretty little pattern of letters inked onto the tops of pages that go seemingly unread which I hand out to people from whom I want to earn money. Otherwise, my life seems to have taken me in a different direction, now having worked in disaster response and relief, at a psychiatric residential treatment facility for children of trauma, a therapeutic boarding school for girls, and a substance abuse rehab for teens and adults. A few more blind curves have recently led me to pursue art in many forms and recycled-material furniture making. And now, it is time perhaps for a little writing.

Image: Repurposed renovation by Katie Kelleher. You can find more of Katie’s art works of repurposing at Follow the Art Strings