**Dedicated to Kylie Faith Reed of America..**
The first time I said the word “sexy” out loud was in 7th grade. I think I was talking about the ponytail that was so far on the side of my head that it touched my ear.
Sexy… I didn’t even know what it meant when I said it. All I thought was that it was the standard to achieve
I spent far too much of my young life worried I wasn’t attractive or enticing or (Heaven-forbid) sexy enough. And from where do these subconscious thoughts and self-criticisms spring?
The remarks I have harbored in my heart since my existence was able to be critiqued. As a child, I expressed my emotions quite boldly and frequently. I was, therefore, dramatic. In middle school, I had a round belly that was typical of a girl who had not yet hit puberty (or five feet tall). I was too naive to think that anyone would sexualize me at the age of 12, but I was scrutinized for not yet having developed the figure of a 20-year-old woman. Although, if I had, I would have been equally (if not more) scrutinized. In high school I was annoying, according to the boys I liked, so I was written off as weird. Annoying was the most frequent adjective used to describe me. And looking back, I am sure that I was annoying. Because I was playing the game. Because boys don’t like smart girls. Because boys making fun of you obviously means they like you.
I spent my life thinking these things of myself, mainly because these themes were encouraged and repeated back to me.
My counselor once told me, “You really aren’t that dramatic, Kristen. You’re actually a pretty logical person and a deep thinker.” That was the weirdest thing I had ever heard. That can’t be right, I’ve based my whole personality on being dramatic and emotional! Turns out it’s true. Traits that never before been ascribed to me, I began to find in myself through introspection.
I don’t consider myself a woman with exceedingly feminine features. I have a very pointy nose and a square jawline, nothing like the rounded, soft oval face of my beautiful sister. I don’t shine with the radiance of my mother’s gorgeous smile. I either ressemble 14-year-old boy or a try-hard Instagram model when I wear makeup.
Notice how this entire post until this point has been about my appearance. And how when I first considered this question–What does it mean to be a woman?–I immediately associated it with my looks. Sigh. It is sad to me that humans have tarred the precious worth of a woman. In so many ways.
Being a woman means realizing my intrinsic value and worth, being formed in the image of God.
Being a woman means embracing femininity and not being scared of my hint of masculinity.
Being a woman means feeling an intuition so deep that it touches my bones.
But being a woman also means having every emotion I express attributed to my period.
Being a woman also means being scared to walk alone for fear of being cat-called. Or scared to do anything alone, really.
Being a woman is so deeply complex. I am thankful God made me who I am. My womanhood is ever-changing and ever-evolving. In some ways I don’t know what it means to be a woman, in part because I don’t fully consider myself one. Even as an adult, most people in my life called me a girl.
Have I not yet earned that precious title? What does it take?
P.S. There’s a lot more I could and maybe one day will write about this, but I wanted to share some thoughts on this International Women’s Day.
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