This I Believe

Filicia - Sandy Hook, Connecticut
Entered on May 29, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Growing up, physical affection was solely reserved for home. I grew up with my dad, and since age ten I helped to raise my three younger siblings, with no mother. This forced my dad into a situation seeking for help – with only one responder: a Brazilian based church. This meant a whole new culture for me, where physical affection is widely common. Kisses on the cheek and hugs at hellos and goodbyes are just common courtesy. My family and I were quick to adapt to this kind of lifestyle. That sense of physical touch has pushed into all crevices of our lives, whether it tends to be appropriate or not, and by this I mean the public display of it all.

My little brother, Ethan, likes to hug and attach himself to others like a bug, especially in school. His teachers find this an act of perverseness. They closely examine him and say that he, like my other ten-year-old brother, must have Reactive Attachment Disorder. Something must be wrong they claim. But, I would rather him hug a person, than to go about such affectionate desires through negatives such as violence.

These simple happenings have a term: PDA. PDA is an abbreviation of Public Display of Affection. A touchy subject amongst many cultures, it has become a more obvious prominent subject in the United States. We as Americans cringe at the sight of it but are intrigued. We just can’t help but look and want to gossip about it, yet all this excitement is over a mere natural occurrence in human nature: physical affection. We all need it. I believe it is one of the basic human needs of the spirit. Let’s face it: it’s one of the five senses of the human being.

So why is there such big fuss when someone decides to share such physical affection in public?

PDA in society is becoming more common but seems to be restricted to Eminem’s “Shake that Ass” Hollywood glam, more an utter denouncing of women than a form of physical love. It seems that it is commonly referred to as “hooking up” and is accepted only in the form the celebrity fairytales. Often referred by all the bad names a girl could possibly be called, I have chosen this unfortunate fate because of something I strongly believe in. If I choose to hold my boyfriend’s hand and sneak him a quick kiss before departing, I believe it is solely my choice to show a bit of affection. I am not falling short because I am comfortable with sharing an act of something so private to most, but I’m being content with the affectionate person that I am.

When will we all learn to be comfortable around PDA? Probably never, but I believe I have the choice to express it if I want, sparing myself the judgments.