how old were you when they told you that your body was a temple you weren’t allowed to let other people into? that your hallowed soul would somehow rot and grow mold if you let another human being’s breath caress the tops of your shoulders, the curve of your neck?
because i was seven. my father said, “your body is a gift, save it.” i am not an object. i am not an object.
“it’s good to cover up.” no. i cover up mistakes, i cover up failures. i am not either one of these, and it has taken me years to train myself out of believing it. if i must lay eyes on every whitehair chest of lobster-red old men in their wrinkly skin and saggy swimsuit bottoms, you can handle my spaghetti straps, my dresses above the knee, my shorts, my v-neck tee.
“what will people think?” well given that when i dress modestly i’m seen as a prude and a frigid bitch, i’m going to assume they’re thinking something insidious. the happy thing is: their thoughts don’t change my reality. i am not defined by them. you can’t tell me who i am. you don’t own this. you will never own this.
“leave something to the imagination.” your problem is the reality of my body, and i’m not sorry. you hate that you can’t imagine me flawless, no scars, no scabby shins, not a real human. in your head, you photoshop onto me large breasts that stay perky without a bra, hips without stretchmarks, a spine without freckles. but i am real, and these are all beautiful, and you should feel blessed you look upon them.
“no man wants a woman like that.” that’s fine with me. i don’t want a man who judges me for showing off my body. in fact, some of us don’t want a man at all. sadly for you, i don’t dress to impress strangers. i dress because it’s summer, and i’m hot, and i don’t just mean the temperature. and for the record? when i do dress for my man in skimpy little booty shorts? he doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with or without it. he loves me for who i am and not the purpose i serve as an object.
and i am not an object. i am not an object. you don’t get to sum up my personality based on my clothing. you cannot hold a book and look at the cover and tell me the whole story. you cannot look at me and know anything. i am not just a book. i’m a nation of libraries.
i do not become unholy for a strapless dress. i do not lose myself for daring to wear a skirt with a slit up the leg. “ladies, your body is sacred, make sure you dress in clothing i personally find demure and satisfyingly modest” sounds a lot like you think you’re a god and only you can determine whether or not i'm worthy of eternal damnation.
i got news for you, buddy.
i’m a goddess. i don’t ask for permission.”
— Let me dress for the weather without comment. I don’t care if you “don’t like the packaging.” I’m not a package, and even if I was, it’s not to your house I’ll be showing up. // r.i.d