content warning: misogyny, body horror

when i close my eyes, i am a sugarsweet barbie girl. i am rainbows, and sunshine, and fresh-baked cookies. your morning toast buttered just right.

i am a waist the size of a thimble. i am smooth legs, and clear skin. all the things i want so desperately… and just wasn’t made for, in the end.

so honey, come on. just put down the dress already. and shut your fucking mouth. because maybe it makes you happy. but no one loves a happy girl. so smile for the camera, and use nice language. let it happen. watch from far, far away.

and if you were made in his image, you’re not doing a very good job of it, are you? you slob, you idiot, you lazy little bitch. with your chubby cheeks. and your frizzy hair. you know smart girls don’t wear lipstick.

so i’m your little child prodigy. so i am quiet, and obedient, and just. like. you. i’m your perfect little pretty girl, with her makeup done just right. i’m your future bride. i’m your housewife-in-training, just looking for the right guy…

and so i let the hyenas descend. i let them eat me alive. put their hands on my shoulders, and their expectations on my back. i let them cackle, as they sew up my mouth and mount me, like a trophy on the wall.

and i stay quiet. but i see it all.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent my whole life being told, by someone or other, that what I am is just… not quite good enough.

Sometimes, that person is myself, to be honest. Sometimes, it’s quiet, and confusing–and I don’t realize that anything is wrong until I find myself cycling through this stupid logic, again and again, and again.

I just hate the way I don’t feel safe in my own skin sometimes, you know? I hate how when I look at what to wear in the morning, I’m already shooting myself down–because if I show more than an inch of skin, I have to brace myself for the possibility that someone might hurt me, in some way or other because of it. And I have to accept those consequences. I don’t think, logically, those things are likely to happen–it’s never happened before. But I’m so terrified of them, almost instinctively. It gets paralyzing after a while. I’m constantly five steps ahead, thinking through everything I say through the lens of if someone could use it to hurt me, or make me feel like nothing. Like I’m not safe in my own skin.

But everyone has a different opinion, on what kind of girl I should be. Their put-together fashion girl, with her makeup and clothes. Or their busy schoolgirl, too focused to care about her appearance, fixated on her career. Empowered, but only when it won’t make anyone uncomfortable, and constantly ready to be whoever else you need at a moment’s notice. Or their housewife, who makes dinner, who has kids at a sensible age, and stays at home. Who folds your sheets, and smiles sweetly.

But why can’t I be all of those things? Why can’t I like clothes, and makeup, and work hard, and also bake cookies? Why do I have to constantly jump between these stupid, impossible expectations, remaking myself into something palatable to the people around me. Why can’t we just… be what we want to? Period, regardless of gender–without having to constantly conform to someone’s vision of what is right and okay.

Because it’s messed up. And exhausting. And it makes me angry.

I don’t know where that started–and I don’t know where it ends.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what to say, any more than you do. But… I guess, if my younger self were to read this, I’d tell her, as cheesy as it sounds, that your happiness and well-being is worth far more than the satisfaction of anyone around you. No one gets to make you in their image.

Since this post deals with some heavy content, I’m linking some international resources. Hang in there, and… try your best to take care of yourself.

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