When I was eighteen, society told me
“You’re not the right sort of girl -
Your belly’s too round
And your hips are too wide
Sure, your bust isn’t bad
And yes, your legs are quite long
But not long enough
To extend your meagre height.
For this offence
We will deny you stylish clothes in your sizes
But there’ll be plenty of bows and ruffles
‘Cos fat people love bows and ruffles
Or at least, we think they do
We don’t actually ask the fat people
Or even care what they think
Because we don’t want THEM to look good.
Our torture rack is the one
That shops put the magazines on:
You will be constantly reminded
Of how your stark refusal to starve yourself
Or to exercise until you collapse
Or to simply have better genetics
Renders you inferior to those we choose to honour.
Look how perfect they are, and weep.
Then again, we treat these people like objects
And you don’t want that, do you?
So go ahead – don’t dress up nice
And instead, bury yourself in books
And call yourself an intellectual
And claim you’re above all that.
Plus, there’s your so-called “mental issues” –
Just defects by any other name.
(Well, we mean, given you’re a woman
In a patriarchal society
There’s a good chance you’ll be objectified
And belittled and ignored
And otherwise disrespected anyway -
But hey, them’s the breaks.)"
Church hardly helped the problem.
God’s representatives insisted
That I mustn’t dress for the male gaze
Or flaunt myself like a wanton whore
To tempt them away from righteousness.
At the same time, I must be modest and obedient
Because men were my superiors.
The fact all priests were men wasn’t relevant.
So, I did what society said:
Covered up my body in baggy clothes,
Sharpened up my mind
To disguise my figure’s defects.
Read all I could
Studied all I could
Learned all I could
And yes, I genuinely loved it –
But my reflection still caused me to cry.
When I turned thirty, I finally realised
I didn’t give a flying fuck what society thinks.
Other rebels had risen up with me.
Fashion makers finally found the extra fabric
They had apparently been lacking all these years.
Bigger bodies braved and conquered the catwalks.
We chose nutrition over narcissism, fullness over fear
And dressed to the nines and gave each other high-fives
To please ourselves, and not the paparazzi.
We had just as much right to be beautiful.
My lipstick is my badge of confidence, not my mark of Cain.
My high heels are not the hooves of Mephistopheles
But the strut in my stride, the swing in my step
And the height I need to tower over anxiety.
I wear them for me and nobody else,
And if you long to catcall or judge me a harlot
Maybe put yourself in a woman’s shoes before you speak.
If God cares more about my heels than humanity’s horrific suffering
Then frankly, I have little heed for His priorities.
You can still discuss Shakespeare whilst wearing a skirt
Or even babble on about Barthes in a bikini.
It’s not mind over matter, for although mind still matters,
I don’t mind about my matter anymore,
Because every molecule of my matter matters too.
This is my metamorphosis.