To All Women

To all women, regardless of your race, biology, sexuality, religion, age, culture, socioeconomic standing, disability, or any other identity marker:

My body has been to hell and back. Like a well-worn pair of shoes, it’s been shrugged on each morning and hung up to rest each night. Like these shoes, it was once new and blank; a canvas not yet decorated and splattered by life’s brushstrokes. 

Despite being much loved by their owner, these shoes grew into her plainest shame. While other girls around her acquired newer, fancier shoes, hers stayed the same. The other girls found heels and straps and pointed toes that gave height, confidence, and a figure accentuated by these shoes’ declaration that they were something to admire. But hers remained her original, though dilapidated, and only option.

Like these shoes, she began to fall apart at the seams. Her tough outer shell which had formerly kept her safe from harm began to disappear. The blank canvas of her skin accumulated layer upon layer of scars, laugh lines, and fears carried in her eyes. People told her she was too boardlike; her face was too cherubic without the goodness, however. But she was still strong enough to manage to hold herself together.

Still the world tore at her mind. She was so excited when she received a pair of those fancy shoes. And she put them on, but when she looked in the mirror, they did not make her sparkle. So, crushed, she hid them in the corner.

The comments began to change. Now she was too wide and lacking definition. It was as if her body had been stretched by time and couldn’t be corralled. And something else even more important changed about those remarks: they began to come from her own head; her own mouth.

As a result, she began trying dangerous things, as they appeared to be the only thing that could quell her pain. It was as if their risk set her alight while simultaneously extinguishing her demons. Like any fire, though, these things left her burned. On top of all those scars, laugh lines, and fears, she now had scorch marks. But she had grown adept at covering all these blemishes, and so she hid these too.

Even still, there remained people who complimented her. She grew more and more baffled as to how this could be with each passing moment. Still, their comments had a gravity that enabled her to sometimes look in the mirror, and for a brief flash, glimpse what they saw.

It became so reassuring to hear these positive words that she began to seek them out everywhere. At first they were honest and true. But soon they became twisted with malicious intentions. Broken as she felt, and tired of walking in those shoes, she settled into the familiarity of those seemingly kind words. The high of her dangerous acts was no longer enough. Here was something that made it work again. For a moment.

She hated those shoes by now. She felt she’d tried everything at this point. New laces, polishing, everything. It was all just a facade to try and elicit those words. To try and catch that flutter of beauty in the mirror.

And then one day, someone asked to try them on. To try her body on.

All of a sudden, all she could do was run. That body heaved and shook with sobs until sleep eventually claimed it.

When morning finally came, she rose and proceeded to stare at her body at length. No matter how hard she focused, nothing stirred. No image came swimming to the surface. Nothing stirred except for a loud, menacing voice. It came from the marks on her body, and screamed that it would no longer be hidden.

It was terrifying. Her vision became clouded by a grey haze. All those kind comments rang false now. Desperately, she turned to the only other thing she’d ever discovered that helped: destroying herself, bit by bit. But it had to be more, more more. Otherwise it wasn’t enough. She had to be less, less, less.

Not long after that, she woke up in the morning and looked for her shoes.

They weren’t there. The grey haze had turned into a dense fog, and she screamed, hoping her voice would pierce it where her eyes could not.

When someone finally came to calm her, she frantically asked them what had happened to her shoes. And quietly, gently, yet condemning at the same time, they informed her that she wasn’t allowed to wear her shoes. She’d worn them to the bone. They handed her a pair of socks and told her she could wear them instead. If she somehow managed to heal the harm her shoes; her body had been through, there was hope she could wear them again.

How do you undo what’s already been done, though?

I’ve figured out that the only way to do so is to care for the broken pieces. To pick them up carefully; cradle them, and hold them tightly so that they might somehow begin to seal back together. To look at them with respect, and pride, and bravery. It aches to see the damage and hate and crave it all at once. To long to shatter yourself even more; to injure yourself with the shards with the hope of having that dangerous high sweep you off your feet again. But you cannot give in. You have to stay strong. It is clearly far easier said than done to try with all your heart and soul and hope against all hope that the pieces will eventually learn to support one another again.

And yet, I am trying. Every day, I am trying.

Someday I’ll realize these shoes were fancy all along; shiny, flattering, and special, just like the others. I just had to look at them the right way. 

With love.

To all women, regardless of your race, biology, sexuality, religion, age, culture, socioeconomic standing, disability, or any other identity marker:

Your body is yours. It is not too fat, too sharp, too curvy, too tall, too flimsy, too scarred, or “too” anything other than too beautiful to ever be anything but unique and resplendent.

Your body is not for others to critique. It is not yours to target, either. It is not for this world to alter as it pleases to make you fit their “standard”. It is not yours to torment, either. It is not for people to use as a devastating tool of shame against you. It is not a weapon for you to inflict harm on yourself, either. It is not for others to take advantage of, violate, or desecrate. It is not an excuse to cross others’ boundaries just as much as it is not something for you to rip apart from the inside and grind your own boundaries into the dirt.

Your body is yours. You are not your body. You are vastly, infinitely more.

But your body is a part of you that you must put on every morning.

Treat it as the beautiful thing it is. Treat it with love.

Happy #InternationalWomensDay everyone ❤

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