A Love Letter to Your Body
I am a sexuality educator in India.
I’ve taught sex-ed in juvenile homes and observation homes.
And I’ve taught it in rural areas as part of after-school programs conducted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
No matter where I teach, I’ve noticed that even though a lot of people have preconceived notions around what young people should know about their own bodies, most kids have a lot of the same questions and needs about sex and sexuality.
I love talking about sexuality and creating space for young people where they can talk about these issues.
And most of the students I have worked with had never had a sex-ed lesson before.
At first, it was difficult to teach young people about sex. I would try to talk about body parts – but they would tell me I was talking about “bad things.”
So we would begin by speaking about topics like gender, relationships, and the body.
Then more questions would come: “Can you get pregnant from kissing? What’s oral sex? If I pull out, it’s safer, right?”
Some students would drop out of the lesson because they or their families were uncomfortable. The class size would start at 50 and by the end of the semester, it would be much smaller.
I was recently asked to share a personal story about the sessions I have taught. Reflecting about some of the sessions I have conducted and the modules I have authored, I realized that my favorite sessions have been when I asked my students to write love letters to their bodies.
They would resist at first. “I’ve never thought a single good thing about my body – so I don’t know where to begin.”
When they did manage to write something, most of the love letters would be an apology — An apology for putting their bodies through pain or for comparing it to other people’s bodies.
One student I worked with even came out to me. He said the program helped him to understand his own sexuality.
Just because someone is from a rural area doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to love their bodies or to experience sexual pleasure.
As Bell Hooks, a black feminist scholar once said – “One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others.”