International Women's Day
My posture wasn’t always like this.
This is a posture born of shame.
For taking up space.
For being too big.
I, like most, learned that good girls don’t take up space.
Make ourselves small.
We make space.
We hold space.
We are space
Our bodies are for others.
We learn this lesson young:
Our bodies are not ours
And they are rarely safe
From the scrutiny of others.
We are for consumption.
For others’ pleasure.
My body is here for others’ pleasure.
We learned there are good bodies
And bad bodies.
And most of us heard messages
That our bodies were not the right kind of body.
Too short. Too fat. Too skinny. Too flat. Too buxomly. Too dark. Too old. Too hairy. Too flabby. Too big. Too queer. Too disproportionate. Too tall. Too hippy. Too curvy. Too masculine. Too teethy. Too disabled. Too soft. Too hard. Too loose. Too hangy.
And from there
We could only deduce that
We are not enough.
Not skinny enough. Not tall enough. Not white enough. Not blonde enough. Not pretty enough. Not smiley enough. Not young enough. Not fuckable enough. Not able enough. Not fit enough. Not feminine enough.
Not loveable enough.
I remember many of my “not enough” lessons.
One when I was 12.
Wearing a tight white floral shirt with overalls
In the library trying to hang out with my crush
Who critiqued my body
I felt the sting of shame
And rounded my shoulders to hide my imperfections.
My body was wrong.
This was not the first, nor the last time
I was told my body was wrong.
As I grew older, my body changed.
And with those changes came more scrutiny.
And more eyes.
Eager to devour
And so I shrunk a little more
To keep myself safe.
My body was not my own.
It was something to be had.
I learned what it meant to be a woman.
To quiet my laugh, to not be too jarring.
To second guess myself, to not be too confident.
To make myself smaller, to not be intimidating.
To loosen my boundaries, to not appear too bossy.
To deny myself pleasure, to not lose control.
Good women have control.
To put others’ pleasure before mine, because my needs are not as important.
To be agreeable, to be liked.
To stifle my desires.
As I grew older
My body bore the burden of others’ struggles
And my own heartbreak.
And so I shrunk a little more
Under the weight.
One day, I grew tired of the weight.
Of making myself small.
Of putting others’ needs before mine.
Of denying myself.
It became apparent that I either learn to love myself
Or lose myself
And so began the journey.
To remove the weight
And take back
What was mine.
One foot in front of the other.
Inch by inch.
I have only just begun
To truly understand my power.
To realize that I am divine.
Now I understand why they tried to dim our light.
Because we are dangerous
When we know our worth.
When we laugh boisterously.
We are dangerous when we know our worth.
When we seek pleasure.
When we quench our thirst.
See, to love ourselves is the ultimate rebellion
Against all that we have been told.
And so rebel, my dear,
Reclaim that space
That was always yours
Before you believed you didn’t deserve it.