Body

I look at myself and I do not like what I see.

In the mirror there is a girl who seems only

half as pretty as everybody else, twice as

tall and with a nose that was never broken

but is jaunty enough to look it. I see a body

that can do things but will never look good

doing them, legs too long and a torso too

flat, as if this mismatched body could ever

be something to admire, I look more like

something Doctor Frankenstein built from

corpses of all shapes, sizes and skin tones

because the different shades of pale on

this pasty body would take too long to count.

I know now that in this world it is more

acceptable to resent what you see in the mirror

than it is to look at yourself and feel love, as

if I can coordinate outfits, match my dresses

with my shoes but I will never know what to

wear with happiness or what handbag I should

pair with a decent amount of self-esteem I do

not know who told me but I remember being

told that my body was nothing something to be

appreciated. My body was to be hidden until

some boy buys me a ring I do not like and asks

me a question that I do not want to answer and

once I am trapped in some façade of love, only

then, only then, can I even take a look myself.

When I go to places where I know men will stare,

I bring a scarf. I wrap it around my head and across

my shoulders so it falls across my chest, covering

up anything that says ‘woman’ or ‘sexual’ but that is

the way I was taught, I know all the ways to not get

raped that there are in this world but I will never be

safe until somebody tells a boy all the ways that there

are in this world how not to rape and let me tell you

there are far fewer ways not to rape, let me give you

the list:

  1. DON’T DO IT.

I have never felt a greater fear than sitting in a taxi, even

though I’m the city I grew up in, the only place I’ve

ever known. I sit in the back as this stranger-man drives

me and I put one headphone in so I can hear anything

that goes on. “So pretty” he says, “where are you from

beautiful” he says, “you have boyfriend” he says, all I

want is to go home but instead I laugh sweetly and nod

yes, because you never know what will happen if you say

‘no.’

This body refuses to be shared, this body refuses to be

shared because words like ‘slut,’ words like ‘whore,’

worlds like ‘skank,’ exist on the face of this toxic earth,

manifesting in mans control over the damn female body

to the point where my own breasts are an excuse for

harassment, it is my fault that fat deposits reside on my

ribcage and for that I am sorry, but I am not.

Until the day comes that any woman can walk down

any street in any degree of undress with no fear, I will

not rest, because if any man can walk topless, any woman

will one day walk topless, if any man can stagger home

barely conscious without fearing for his life, any woman

will one day get home without fear and I hope that day

comes soon.

Soon.

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