As a girl and a woman, my body has been abused and weaponized. I learned to hate it, disguise it, and cover it under a tarp of shame. Women and men have reduced me to just an agreeable face as a means to excise any modicum of self-esteem I managed to scrape together. I have been accused of being a temptress, not for the sake of intentionally tempting, but rather because men cannot curb their own salacious desires and confine their eyes to the woman they wed.
For kinship and friendship, I have shrunk and shriveled. I let my care slack and stopped adorning my temple in appreciation. Instead, I opted to fade like an apparition in an unlovely desert. I simpered to the background with an obedience my soul will no longer oblige.
I think the world enjoys when a woman collapses into herself like a worn, leather bag shoved to the floor. There is whispered delight when a woman slides down the dimmer switch to her inner light, and even better if they can do it for her. But we must not yield quietly.
I am making the empowered choice to repossess my body and bask in all its lumens. I now understand I was not created to organize my body and beauty into a form that is easily digestible for others.
The journey to loving myself calls for full acceptance of the form I was born into almost 30 years ago, not just the parts that people don’t ask me to apologize for. The whole of me is deserving of celebration and adornment.
Now I find myself pausing in the mirror more and smiling as I fall in love with what I see again. My large, eager eyes tell stories each time the curtain lifts. My broad nose, which I have often yearned to sculpt with a blade, sustains my breath. My asymmetrical lips may lean to one side a bit, but they were kind when my voice was just a whisper. I know now that sensuality is not a curse, but a gift of femininity. So I praise the spread of my hips and encourage their soft sway.
I love my being, and that is more than enough.