Fellas, you’ve been warned. If the thought of a woman spreading her legs to get her goodies inspected by a doctor makes you squeamish, then this post is not for you. Avert your eyes, put down the phone, or for the love of God, click on something else!
Okay ladies and brave men, I must say, I truly love the way Europeans react toward human bodies. It’s a little bit like, “Yeah, you have a body, I have a body, we all have bodies, now go drop your pants and let me see what’s goin’ on down there.” Seriously, though. I have learned to love myself and all my jiggly bits more than I ever imagined since moving to Germany and it has everything to do with the culture here.
In the States, we are taught to be ashamed of our bodies. We should cover them and be modest because when we show skin, guys will only think of one thing: sex. Our bodies are so completely sexualized that showing them off makes us shameful human beings.
Not long after getting married, my husband and I were vacationing on the Canary Islands. Our first day there, I sauntered to the beach in my modest, one-piece bathing suit and a pool skirt to boot! After a while, I noticed that literally every single woman within my line of sight had on a two-piece. From young girls to old women, fat, skinny, and everything in-between, they ALL had on a 2-piece suit, and some of them had their tops removed. Suddenly, I was the one feeling awkward for covering so much of myself. In that moment, I understood the European message: Your body is not only about sex. It’s just a body. We all have one and there is NO SHAME in that! I now proudly wear a high-waisted 2-piece, just in case you were wondering. 🙂
Going to the doctor in the U.S. also serves to teach body shame rather than body love. You’re led to a room, asked to undress, and you’re given a paper shirt with Velcro in the front, and a long paper blanket to cover your legs. You’re left alone in the room in order to disrobe, and the doctor will knock to make sure you’re well-covered before entering. The message is clear: Cover yourself. Your body is shameful even in the eyes of a doctor. The doc comes in, opens just enough of the shirt to do a breast exam, and then she does the pelvic exam. All the while, you remain as covered as possible, and for me, it’s completely horrific. These visits leave me feeling violated and dirty, and for DAYS before my appointment, I’m plagued with knots in my stomach and feelings of total unease.
In Germany, however, there’s a big difference, and frankly, it’s delightful. I realize I probably lucked out a little by finding such a phenomenal doctor, but the whole experience ensured that I will never again dread these visits like I have in the past. I was led to the doctor’s office where the doctor herself came in to talk with me for a few moments. Her office was beautifully decorated, dimly lit, and cozy-warm. When she was ready to do the exam, she asked me to go to the changing room and remove my pants and underwear. Then I walked across the room to the exam table in nothing but my t-shirt and bra, and you know what… it was FREEING! Her lack of concern with helping me cover as much of my body as possible made me feel like I actually didn’t HAVE to be ashamed. She is a doctor! Mine was probably the 20th vagina she’d seen that day so why should I waste time covering my legs?
When that part of the exam was over, I went back to the changing room, put on my pants, and removed my bra and shirt. Then I walked back across the room shirtless and she did my breast exam. The whole experience was the best I’ve ever had when it comes to these kinds of visits, and frankly, I hope I never have to get another exam in the U.S. ever again!