I think that I am tired of this, I tell myself as I watch her swirl her purple fingernail in circles on the table and refuse goldfish crackers for snack.
Her mouth is shut now but just a moment ago she was spilling with stories of girls named Arya & Hanna–two girls who only come to her by way of the TV screen.
She is ten years old and looking to Aria & Hanna as role models. The Cookie Cutters of What She Should Be. Arya is 17 and sleeping with her high school English teacher. Hanna looks as though she has been cut out carefully from a catalog. Perfect clothes. Perfect skin. Perfect size.
Ten years old and already I want to hold out my hand and tell her to spit it out. Please, spit it out. Spit out the lies the world wants to feed you and just eat your goldfish, baby.
Yes, I am think I am tired of this.
Tired of a band of girls with Operation See My Hip Bones as their next endeavor. Tired of a culture that feeds its young with skinny tips & “how to please your man” rhetoric. No wonder we are hungry, starving for something more than this.
& I’ve been there. Wrapped & Wrapped & Wrapped by a world that would only want me if I took up less space. I spent an entire year dreading the door of my own apartment because to open it meant to walk outside. To walk outside meant to face the world. To face the world meant to move into conversations where I was expected to speak. And I was always afraid that someone would look at me, stare me up and down, and tell me that I was not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough.
But funny how it never ended when the door of the apartment slammed at night. It only started when I roamed into the kitchen, long after the moon had pulled blankets over the eyes of its children, to fill bowls with ice cream & cake & peanut butter & any ingredient that I could find.
It had only just begun when I sat on my kitchen table shoveling numbness into my mouth and let the tears dance wild on my cheeks. Oh, I still ache over the emptiness of it all. Oh, I still cry for the girl who always believed in other people’s mornings but never her own.
I have come a long way. I have battled with my body & a world that whispers lies upon my lovely handles & freckled forearms. But I remember clearly the day I woke up and said out loud, “You cannot stay here any longer. You cannot stay here any longer.” Put down the spoon. Put away the carton. And move.
Because if we always stay then we never move.
And if we ruminate on body fat and smaller thighs and tiny arms then we never see the miracles of life that already glitter the palms of our hands. That our lungs take air. That our feet get us there. That our fingers tap on keyboards and suddenly we are talking. That with just an “@” I can find you, roaming somewhere in your own networks, and we can find a way to push through this. Together. I don’t care that we’ve never met. In fact, I have never cared.
That we serve the world better in Larger Proportions, out of our boxes and the bindings of other people’s beauty definitions. And if we’ve got a dream- a Keep You Up At Night Dream- then there is room to make it happen. To make it more real than the leather of his jacket on the night he wrapped you in it and called you his “daisy.”
Because you are delicate like that.
You are beautiful like that. You always have been and you always will be. And your limbs– well they are perfect. Your words– I want to hear them more. Your thoughts– make them sing, baby. This life… well this life is only a one-time thing and I don’t want to wait until the close of it to see that it never had a thing to do with thighs or legs. It never really mattered how little of space we took up in our jeans. I cannot help but think we’ll get asked the Other Kinds of Questions as we stand beside a gate that brings us into fields that know no heartbreak or the calorie counts that create it.
“Did you spread your arms out as wide as you could?”
“Did you wrap them tightly when another needed you most?”
“Did you dance in the Today you had? Did you save Tomorrow for its own mystery?”
“Did you do something that mattered, really mattered? And was it outside of yourself?”
I want to answer Yes. Already, my mouth is watering to answer Yes.