When I was in Grade 7 a boy in my class looked at my legs, skinny and scabbed and bruised by the outdoors, exposed by a pair of shorts in the heat of early summer.
He asked me why I didn’t shave them.
I turned bright red, felt shame.
I went home that night and shaved off the blonde fuzz that was so humiliating.
When I was in Grade 9 I bought a crop top and wandered the neighbourhood, perfectly flat belly exposed, testing the value that being sexy would add to my worth.
I grew out my hair, popped in some contacts.
I learned to put on a show, my actions monitored constantly by the director in my subconscious – how do I look to them?
Add a swing to the hips, a smile to the lips, a downward cast eye when your head should be held high.
(Beauty must suffer, after all).
Where did this come from, this knowledge that to be “enough” you must be pleasing?
Why was I convinced that my worth came from my lips, and my hips? My hair. My eyes.
I wasn’t very good at being that girl, I wasn’t raised to minimize myself. I was raised by women who shouted from rooftops, who demanded respect.
And yet I knew that my worth was from how pleasing I could be. Pleasing to look at, pleasing to speak to.
One day I wasn’t pretty anymore. My body shifted, morphed, dissolved.
And then I had no worth left at all.
I could never be enough.
I am enough.
(Tell me I am beautiful, go ahead.
I won’t hear it).