Over the course of my life as a woman, I have been constantly and continuously told, taught, and treated as if the way that I look, my visible, physical body, is an offering to the world. That my face and demeanor be pleasing. That my physicality be both beautiful and desirable. That I be open and inviting to those who find *it* attractive or comforting, and amenable to sexualizing and fetishizing *it* in a multitude of ways. That my physical presence measure to an expectation of how I should look and exist, both in the world and for the world.
As a result, the world has taught me that my body is not necessarily me, unless the me that is who I am fits within the societal rules imposed on my physical appearance and actions. It has taught me that my body is not allowed to be merely an outer result, manifestation, or expression of what exists inside – organically, naturally, and unencumbered by the expectations and unmet needs of others.
The world has taught me that the part of me that is seen should be an it not a who, a product not a person, a branded billboard accounting for the likes and dislikes of the target demographic for mass consumption. The world has taught me that I am not my own.
But I have also learned. I have learned that I do not have to play by those rules, bend to those whims, or fit inside of those boxes. I have learned – in large part, thanks to many brilliant, bold, kind, and courageous womxn with a vast array of backgrounds, identities, and intersectionalities – that who I am, how I exist, and how I engage with the world can be entirely of my own making. That there is space for me, for us, in the manner which we choose to be seen and met, if we demand it.
On this International Womxn’s Day, sending love, strength, and light to all the womxn, everywhere. Demand to be seen as you choose to be.