When I was in second grade I asked a boy if I could play soccer with him and his friends.
He said no.
I asked him why.
He said I was too skinny.
Recently a boy called me skinny.
What did I do?
I didn't cry as I did before.
I didn't wonder what was wrong with me.
Instead, I thanked them.
And praised heavens that finally I was doing something right.
Those hours staring in the mirror with a measuring tape around my waist
And a dissatisfied expression on my face
Finally amounted to something.
I wonder what was the difference between those experiences was.
The same thing had been said. Why did I act so differently?
What had changed?
And I realized it was how the world saw me.
Before I was just a little girl who was satisfied.
The world wanted me to grow big and strong.
To focus on my health.
Now the world wants me to focus on something else.
How small is my waist?
How pretty am I?
How do I look in this?
How do the other girls look compared to me?
Am I the belle of the ball?
Am I invisible?
Am I silent?
Me and my friend were talking.
I told him I was a feminist.
He asked me if I wanted to run the world.
I said no.
I don't want all men to die.
I don't think all men are sexist.
I don't hope girls can take over.
I just want to live.
I want to live without caring about my looks.
Without caring whether I can walk alone at night.
Without feeling that I have to shout to be heard when my brother just has to whisper.
Without worrying that the boy in the hall will knock over my books again.
Or do something worse.
Here's the point of this poem.
A message to all the girls reading.
You are not defined by your looks.
You are not defined by your boyfriend.
You are not defined by your followers on social media.
You are not defined by your father. Or mother. Or siblings.
Because you are defined by only YOU.
What you want to be.
How you want to live.
Who you want to love.
This isn't a man's world. Or a dog eats dog world. This is just a world.
A world I want you to live in.
A world where you shouldn't care about the size of your waist.
Or what others think of you.
Now, this isn't going to happen any time soon.
We can't fix all the problems in the world.
And there will always be racism. And war. And starvation.
And sometimes I worry that this message is trivial when there are other things going on.
But if we can fix something so trivial and meaningless in comparison to what others go through,
Then we've done something right.
I love all of you reading. And have a good day.