The thing about being a young woman, or an older woman, a mature woman, or, a young girl

Is that everyone thinks they have a say in what you do, how you dress, what you can and cannot say, what your body looks like, how you choose to spend your time

Like, “why are you so angry?”, “why don’t you smile?”, “what’s wrong?”, “why are you so serious?”, “where are you going?”, “where do you work?”, “how much do you make?”, “what are you doing with your life?”, “do you have a boyfriend?”, “WHAT! You don’t want to have children?!”

Most days, I don’t even know if that’s my true answer anymore. I just do it to get a rise out of people. Because out of all the wonderful things I have achieved, not achieving “children” and “a family” is somehow the most important.

Then, there is the “seriousness” of my face. I was maybe 13, or even younger, when an older woman told me I should smile more as I cleaned up after others at my parents’ restaurant.  I looked up at her confused. Man, maybe something was wrong with me. Maybe I should smile more.

You see, it’s not just older men, mature men, young men, or, little boys that tell you to smile more

It’s everyone.

Because everyone feels so entitled to your body all the time, like, “you are so skinny!”, “don’t you eat?”, “comes bien poquito!”, “how do you eat so much and not gain any weight?”, “I’ve never seen you as fat!”

Yes. These are actual comments people make. People. Everyone.

Because for 25 years I have seen the eyes of strangers scan me from head to toe, sometimes pausing to stare at some places longer, taking more time at others, staring a little too long

fuck you, for thinking that my body or my face is yours to judge.

I have been so intertwined in the confusion of what it means to be little girl, a young girl, and now a young woman.

It’s like, at one point I felt confused because I liked the attention from men, I craved their glances and their admiration, and then I felt shame or self-doubt when I somehow didn’t “meet their beauty standards.”

Why? Because I NEVER WILL. I will never be your cookie-cutter version of standard beauty because my nose and hands are my dad’s and his are his grandmother’s, so I have my great grandmother’s nose, and for some people, that’s not beautiful.

And I have my mother’s butt and people felt like they can freely comment on it all my life, and because for a long time as a teenage girl, I thought this was the only “positive” quality I had.

Because my face is round, and asymmetrical, and I have a slight lazy-eye, and my hair is poof-y, and I’m not that tall, and I constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY find flaws in my whole PHYSICAL BEING every time I look in a mirror or at a picture of myself.

And then I hate myself. Because I come to believe that I cannot be beautiful.

And yet, I still care. I care because sometimes I like to pick out a nice outfit that I feel pretty in, that hugs my body in all the ways I want it to be hugged

Or because I put on eyeliner and lipstick and I do my hair.

And just when I think it’s over…. it’s not.

Like, “Why do you look so cute today?”, “who are you going to go see?”, “Who did you get ready for?”, “ugh! You’re so pretty!”, “Did you get a boyfriend?”

As if whatever I do can’t ever just be for me.


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