As a woman, I have one thing to say:
I’m tired of having a body.
I’m tired of having to pick it apart. Of looking in the mirror and noticing its every flaw. Is it too thin? Is it too fat? Is it muscular enough? What do I want it to look like? Can I achieve that? Is it enough? Will I be pretty if I eat a second helping for dinner? Will I be pretty if I don’t eat at all?
I’m tired of having it looked at by disgusting men who don’t even realize that there’s a person inside it. I’m tired of having it looked at by old men who think they’re being sweet by calling me a “pretty girl” over and over and over again, as though that’s all I am. I’m tired of having it looked at by young, attractive men who think that they have a right to it just because they are young and attractive.
I’m tired of having to guard it from harm. I’m tired of that even being a possibility for me. I’m tired of walking home at night and worrying about it being violated. I’m tired of fearing a man’s blow, because I know that my own wouldn’t even compare.
I’m tired of having to worry about whether its presentation is sufficient for others. I may feel completely comfortable in that low-cut top, but that isn’t really the issue here, is it? No, the issue is whether or not I’ll be taken seriously by snotty, pig-headed bigots who think that everything they need to know about me is found in my cleavage. The issue is what the masses will be thinking if they do find me raped and beaten in the morning, because all it would take is the wrong skirt draped across my body to make them say “she deserved it.” To make them forget that there’s even a person inside that body at all.
I’m tired of needing to decorate my body in ways that make other people comfortable, not me. I’m tired of being turned away from jobs that I am perfectly capable of doing just because my body isn’t to their liking – it’s much too pierced, much too tattooed, much too revealed, as though any of that indicates the sort of person I am. As though any of that means anything to anyone but me.
I’m tired of people looking at my body and thinking that they have a say in what it does, as though this body – this mass of flesh and bone and blood that I inhabit – belongs to anyone but me.
This body is its own kind of beautiful and it has its own kind of strength, and that remains true whether I have chosen to decorate it with jeans or nothing at all. It remains true whether it is fat, thin, muscular, tattooed, pierced, modified, natural, unshaven, touched, untouched, pleasing, or displeasing. It remains true because, above all, this body is mine, and it has worth because of that.