Take up space

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been trying not to take up space. At least not too much space. I don’t even think I knew that I was doing this. But it was real. And it’s wrong.

Do you remember the first time you were noticed for your size? Either for being big or small?

I don’t. But I do have many, many memories of all sorts of people placing value judgments about me based on how much space I took up. For most women, and let’s be fair, many men too, we receive so much input about our size and whether or not it’s acceptable. These experiences get filed away in our subconscious and we react to them, all the time.

My experiences with size judgement occurred in all kinds of ways. Sometimes it was a positive comment, which told my subconscious that my size was okay, acceptable, perfect. Other times it was a harmful comparison or just a downright negative comment, which told my subconscious that my size was not okay, unacceptable, shameful. My subconscious is stockpiled with these comments, looks, comparisons, judgments, and emotions.

Every time I was told to “sit here” or “stand there” or “go through here” because I could “fit,” my subconscious got sent a message that my size was acceptable. That I was regarded highly or liked enough because of how much space my body did and didn’t take up.

Every time I was called “tiny” or “too skinny” or “rail-thin” with eyes showing jealousy or disgust, my subconscious took some hits of shame and began to feel like maybe my body didn’t take up enough space.

Every time I was laughed at because of how certain clothes fit my body, my subconscious was jolted with pain, anger, and even more shame.

Every time I was told that my body needed to lose an inch, or firm up, or be something that it wasn’t, my subconscious took notes on the need for exercise and portion control.

Every time I was compared to a friend or a sister or a stranger, my subconscious became abuzz with resentment, because when body comparisons are made, someone always gets hurt.

Every time I was excluded from fun things because my friends didn’t want to be in bathing suits around me or were worried that I’d get the most attention from guys, my subconscious stored sadness and pain that would overstay its welcome.

Every time I was told I don’t eat enough, or I eat too much, or labeled anorexic, or told I had gained weight, my subconscious began to close her doors and retreat inward, because she knew there was no way to win this fight.

It wasn’t until I began exploring yoga that my idea and ideals for body size took a different path. I remember doing a particular yoga video in which the instructor was giving directions for body placement on the mat. And she specifically said, “Spread out. Take up space.”

There was a part of me that recoiled from her words, and immediately felt shame at the thought of “taking up space.” The messages from my subconscious came into view and reminded me that society says that I, as a female, should be small and tiny and barely there. How dare I take up space, as if I could use up too much space that there wouldn’t be enough left over for anyone else.

Well, how dare I let society, or anyone, dictate how I feel about my own body! After all, it is my body. And finally, there was a shift. Not only could I laugh at this ignorant notion, but as I spread out on my yoga mat, I felt something different. I felt pride. In my shape, in my body, in my person. I am a person, and I will take up as much space as I need because I matter.

Here’s me, taking up space and being proud of it. 🙂

Yoga

I will not apologize

Something is happening with women. Something is shifting, changing, rising up within them. Women are looking a little longer at themselves and are liking what they see. They are recognizing a strength, a power, a life force deep within themselves and are using it to light a fire in their eyes. They are showing the world that they are women, they are beautiful, and they are valuable.

Well, the feminist fire within me is certainly lit, and I welcome the warmth.

From the Real Beauty Campaign, body positive photography, girl power songs from Alicia Keys and Katy Perry, the #yesallwomen movement, and most recently, the #ShineStrong Pantene commercial Not Sorry, women are getting the message: It’s time to stop bashing ourselves and others for what makes us women, to stop apologizing for our qualities and quirks, and to start loving ALL of ourselves. Basically, we are women hear us roar!

Here’s my roar:

I’m pretty sure I’ve been a feminist since before I knew that I lived in a man’s world. I was a girl who didn’t much care for gender stereotypes and how I was supposed to look, act, and talk (or not talk). However, as I grew up, I learned what being a woman in a man’s world meant, and I, as so many of us do, developed the apologies deeply rooted in shame simply for being born female.

Lately I’ve been wondering, how much of myself have I felt sorry and shame for? The answer is, too much. And I’m done apologizing for being a woman.

I will not apologize for wearing pink, blue, pants, skirts, or shirts that show too much or too little.

I will not apologize for wearing my hair long, short, up, down, straight, or curly.

I will not apologize for not putting makeup on my face to cover my flaws.

I will not apologize for the dark circles that appear under my eyes.

I will not apologize for my thin smile that decorates my eyes with little lines.

I will not apologize for having arm flab that waves back and thighs that rub.

I will not apologize for having hips and a butt that sway when I walk.

I will not apologize for having a swell in my belly and a bounce in my breasts.

I will not apologize for having rolls, dimples, or cellulite when I move my body.

I will not apologize for wearing clothes that show my figure.

I will not apologize for having skin that’s too white, too tan, or too something else.

I will not apologize for liking the way that I look.

I will not apologize for eating too much or too little.

I will not apologize for belching or farting.

I will not apologize for having hair under my arms or between my legs.

I will not apologize for being a sexual being.

I will not apologize for having sexual fantasies and sexual experiences.

I will not apologize for saying or writing the word sex, vulva, vagina, penis, or anything related to such words.

I will not apologize for sacrificing parts of my life to achieve my goals.

I will not apologize for being successful.

I will not apologize for being educated and intelligent.

I will not apologize for being too quiet or too loud.

I will not apologize for speaking my mind.

I will not apologize for having an opinion and sharing it.

I will not apologize for raising a hand and saying, “Let me finish” when you interrupt me.

I will not apologize for being honest.

I will not apologize for having thoughts, feelings, and needs.

I will not apologize for your reaction to my thoughts, feelings, and needs.

I will not apologize for being an emotional being.

I will not apologize for crying at home, at work, or in public.

I will not apologize for saying no.

I will not apologize for saying yes.

I will not apologize for having a career that fulfills me.

I will not apologize for not having children.

I will not apologize for being independent.

I will not apologize for needing someone to depend on now and then.

I will not apologize for having feminine and masculine traits.

I will not apologize for my power, my strength, and my worth.

I will not apologize for loving myself.

I will not apologize for not apologizing.

I will not apologize for being a woman.

I will not apologize.

I will not.

 

#YesAllWomen

Honest answers to unspoken questions. A beautiful read.

in transit

#YesAllWomen

Because all women have walked to their car in the dark, keys clutched tight in hand, one poking out between two fingers.

Because when I go out to bars or clubs, I have to think about whether what I’m wearing is too suggestive, instead of putting on whatever I please.

Because I feel the need to apologize when I’m not wearing makeup or my hair hasn’t been washed, or when I’m generally looking anything other than flawless.

Because there was nothing I could do about the man who touched me inappropriately in the middle of Gillette Stadium as I waited for my then-boyfriend to come out of the bathroom. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STADIUM.

Because there was also nothing I could do when a man touched me inappropriately in the middle of a crowded street, his arm around his girlfriend. Because retaliating in the way I wanted to…

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