I am a living rebellion. My very existence is a protest. My truth and my life is a provocation, a challenge to these lies that we’re all being fed.
I refuse to allow these deceptions to define me. They cannot, for I denounce them with every breath I take. I mock them with every step I take. I refute them by simply being who I am.
Lies that are subversively slipped into our subconscious minds through the ads that we scroll past on our screens. Lies that, like sugar-coated poison, are sprinkled all around us in our daily lives. Lies photo shopped on magazine covers and lies acted out on our television screens.
Lies by omission, implying that perfection is beauty and beauty is feminine. Lies telling us that beauty is soft and smooth, delicate, graceful, and slightly off-balance. Lies telling us that it’s all about sex appeal, about poise, posture, perfection, and plastic, about being willingly objectified, always willing, needy, and wanting.
I refuse to treat myself like a sculpture that requires the constant application of creams and paint to maintain that one moment, that one aspect, captured in time – that one side of femininity, that one image of beauty that we’re taught to adore and emulate.
I am not a sculpture. I am fluid and alive. I am a kaleidoscope of various hues that transition constantly, that mingle and merge.
There’s no single snapshot that can show who I really am, because I’m so much more than a single moment, a single movement, a single expression could ever convey – so I won’t aspire to that image. I won’t aspire to always be beautiful because that’s not my truth. I am not always beautiful. I am not always anything.
I work hard and I enjoy physical labor. I like to play in the dirt and I love to create and build things. I open my own jars of pickles. My hands aren’t soft and smooth. They aren’t weak, they aren’t always gentle, and my nails aren’t always manicured.
My hands are strong and hard and sometimes slightly calloused. These hands weren’t built to be pretty. They were built to be used. And I use them for all manner of things, not just to adorn with jewels or to lavish a lover.
This doesn’t diminish their ability to be tender and loving. This doesn’t make them less feminine, and it doesn’t make me less beautiful. I reject this notion that a woman’s hands should be soft, supple, dainty, and delicate.
Instead, I will allow my hands to be a living defiance.
I like to go barefoot and splash through puddles. I prefer walking to riding in some box on wheels, following a prescribed concrete path. My feet know the different textures of the land intimately, so they aren’t always soft but a bit rough. It’s not unusual to see them covered in leaves, with scratches and scrapes from twigs and thorns.
They aren’t the kind of feet that are coddled and hidden from the elements. They’re the kind that have walked many miles and will walk many more.
This doesn’t make me less womanly. It doesn’t diminish their beauty. I refuse to abide by this lie that they should always be silky soft and pretty in pink.
Instead, I will allow my feet to be a living defiance.
I am not always serene. I’m not always smiling, comforting, or seducing. Sometimes I get angry and sometimes I cry. Sometimes I’m tired, hungry, sick, or strained. I love to contemplate and study, and I enjoy getting lost in the depths of concentration. My face isn’t always relaxed and open. Sometimes it’s sharp like a hawk and sometimes it furrows with intense concentration.
My face wasn’t made to be appealing, pretty, or seductive. My face was made to express and convey an endless array of emotions, sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Its colors are as vast as those in my soul. My face is not art. My face is my artist’s tool – not the canvas, but the paintbrush; not the poem but the pen.
This doesn’t diminish my unique kind of beauty and it doesn’t take away from my feminine energy. I will not live according to such dishonest standards. I will not pretend that my face should always be appealing.
Instead, I will allow my face to be a living defiance.
I thrive when I can put this body to work. I love to feel my muscles burn and to test my physical limits. I enjoy being active and doing strenuous exercise. My muscles are hard and my body is tough. My curves are not gentle but severe, pulled taut from years of hard work.
This doesn’t diminish my womanhood or somehow cancel out my ability to be sensual or to be submissive. I dispute the lie that a woman should be soft with gentle curves and a statuesque figure. I will not drink from that cup of deceit.
Instead, I will allow my body to be a living defiance.
I will not aspire to the likes of Aphrodite, Venus, and Cerridwen at the expense of Athena, Kali, and Minerva. I am not a goddess of love or of sensuality or even of peace. I am a goddess of all of the above.
I will not abide by these lies that are painted on billboards and starved half to death on our runways. I know better than to believe that beauty can only be found in roses, butterflies, and sunsets. Are not the mountains beautiful as well, with their towering heights and their sharp edges? Are not the wolves and their sinuousness and ferociousness as beautiful as the doves with their soft feathers and gentle coos?
Beauty is not soft. It is not off-balance, precarious in stance or form. Beauty isn’t perfect. Beauty is that energy within, that ever-present potential that arises spontaneously and in a vast array of exciting combinations – not just one form, one image, one ideal, one standard. Beauty is also hard and strong. It’s also steady. Beauty is perfect and imperfect, natural and painted, wanting and fulfilled.
A woman shouldn’t be beautiful. A woman shouldn’t be gentle. A woman needn’t be soft. A woman should be whatever a woman is – from one moment to the next – without the need to hold fast to one prescribed notion of beauty or of anything else.
I am a woman and I am not soft. I am not beautiful. I am not gentle. I am endless potential. I can be both soft and hard, both tender and forceful. I am not just the wind but also the thunder. Not just a trickling stream but also a hurricane. I am all of the above and so much more.
I am a provocation, a challenge, a rebellion. My existence is a protest. And my hands, my feet, my face, and my body – they are a living defiance.
©2017 Cristen Rodgers
Image by Saver-ag on Deviantart
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