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Auntie SparkNotes: A Crippling Fear of Flesh

Auntie SparkNotes: A Crippling Fear of Flesh

If you'll excuse us, we need to go change out of these booty shorts. —Sparkitors

Hi Auntie.
I feel really out of place most of the time, as people are flirting incessantly and I personally think it’s disgusting. I’d rather everyone covering as much skin they possibly can, and it’s part of the reason I wear overalls and a button-down collared shirt, with all the buttons done, of course. I’ve always had nightmares of being seen naked by tons of people, as even one person seeing anything higher than my ankles makes me feel sick to the core. During gym, I insist on wearing sweatpants, full socks, a full-sleeved shirt, and sneakers. I can never go to the pool because the amount of flesh I see there is sickening. In essence, I’m bound to my vision of a fully clothed world, and anything else disturbs me.

My mom thinks I’m just going through a phase—the only thing is, she’s thought that since I was eleven, and now I’m sixteen. I’m pretty sure that’s not a phase. I am pretty normal at home, and I slack a little on the completely uptight person I am, but I’m afraid for the day when my mom will ask when I’ll get a girlfriend. You know how when you first learn about sex, everyone in the room feels all weird and out-of-place? And some feel disturbed a little? That’s exactly how I feel about it even now. I think it’s revolting, and horrifying at the same time. I take comfort in the fact that I’ll never do it, but I get distressed every time I think that I was the product of sex. Half of the time I have to excuse myself from biology class, and my mom had to opt me out of the “family-learning” we used to do at school.

I’ve thought about it, and within the LGBT spectrum, I’m none of those. The question is, what am I? I know I shouldn’t define myself by my orientation alone, but what do I do if I don’t even know what it is and I’m sickened by other people’s? As far as I know, I don’t know anyone else like me. And I’m afraid to read about it because it’s scary. And it’s everywhere. And nobody will know what it’s like to want to run and scream at the sight of booty shorts, and that’s it’s not funny in the least. What do I do, Auntie? What am I?

What are you? Well, first, let me preface this by saying that I mean this not as any sort of insult, but rather as an expression of genuine concern that there's just no good way to phrase:

You're a person who needs some professional help.

But not in a bad way!

Because here's the thing: your situation, even within the exceptionally broad and diverse spectrum that is human sexuality, is awfully unusual. It would be different if you were just apathetic about or completely uninterested in sex, in which case you'd probably fall in with the 1% or so of the population that identifies as asexual—still rare, but not cause for concern. But what you're describing goes beyond lack of interest. You're repulsed not just by sex, but by the human body in general. You're afraid to research your sexuality because it's "scary." And most worrisome, you're grossed out by your own body—to the point of not only sacrificing your personal comfort, but also violating pretty much every rule of fashion known to man. (Overalls and a collared shirt buttoned up to your gills? If Tim Gunn saw you, he'd probably have a heart attack.)

All of which is to say that while you don't necessarily need to define your sexual orientation, you also don't want to let it—and your phobia of all things flesh-related—define you. And when you can't sit through a class because you find basic human biology to be revolting, you've officially reached the point where it's interfering with your life to an unhealthy degree. I mean, let's be real: even if you never become particularly interested in or comfortable with the idea of having sex, you also don't want to fail out of school because you can't hear the word "vulva" without spontaneously vomiting.

So, your next steps are as follows: Make an appointment with your doctor. Tell him what's going on with you. And finally, ask for a referral to a therapist or other mental health professional. (If you can, try to see someone who specializes in sexual disorders.) It may turn out that you've got a treatable issue, in which case you can look forward to a life full of pleasant and anxiety-free beachgoing, among other things; or it may turn out that this is just the way you are, in which case a counselor can help you devise strategies for navigating a world full of flirting, touching, booty-short-wearing people.

Either way, you owe it to yourself to find out. And while doing so might be scary, hopefully you'll realize that it doesn't even begin to compare to the terror of a lifetime in which your own skin makes you squirmy.

Our poor letter-writer is clearly in pain, so be kind when you comment, y'all. And if you've got a question of your own, send it on over to!

Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, sexual orientation, nudity

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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