Ever since I can remember, I have been the smart girl.
When I was little, I enjoyed it.
It gave me a sense of security, of confidence in my identity. It made sense.
It didn’t seem weird to me or bother me that people put me in a box. Because it was the smart box. And I liked being smart.
In middle school, everything changed.
All of a sudden girls were wearing bras and putting on makeup and flirting with boys.
All of a sudden boys were “hot” and girls were “cute,”
except for the ones that weren’t.
I was confused.
I wasn’t happy and secure in my box anymore. Because it was clear that being smart was no longer enough.
Now I had to be pretty. And I had to like boys. And I had to wear cute clothes.
And I had to stop making boys feel uncomfortable by being smarter than them.
I had never felt pretty before. I didn’t know how. All I knew was what I saw broadcasted around me: pretty meant thin. So I became thin.
And then I got to college.
And it was okay to be smart again.
I don’t worry as much about being thin anymore. I was able to get over that.
But apparently I’m supposed to watch what I eat and stay away from the Freshman Fifteen… while “letting go” and “having fun” all the way to getting trashed every weekend.
And I’m not supposed to play too hard to get, to be “a challenge,” but not too much of one.
And when I do let someone in, I’m not supposed to take it seriously. Because “it was only a hookup, be reasonable.”
It’s only my body, no big deal.
But I can’t have too many hookups. Because you know what that would make me.
So let me see if I’ve got this straight:
I’m supposed to be smart, but not too smart.
Beautiful, but attainable.
Healthy, but not worrying too much about my body.
Not a slut, but not a prude.
Skinny, yet voluptuous.
Motivated, but not overly-ambitious.
Independent, but accommodating.
Successful, but not intimidating.
Confident, but modest.
Proud to be a woman, but not a feminist.
Good on paper, and good in bed.
Human, and yet perfect.
Well, fuck that.
The messages that our world sends to young girls on their way to becoming women are confusing, contradictory, unreasonable, and ceaseless. It is time that these messages came to an end. Or were replaced by new ones.
I am woman.
I am flawed.
I am intelligent.
I am capable.
I do NOT fit in a box.
And I am beautiful.
I am one woman.
I am every woman.
I am the women in your life.
Encourage me to be who I am.
And respect who I choose to be.

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