Do you remember the names you called me as a child? You called me an ugly parasite, a weird child, a “thing” with no love to be given. You made fun of my big eyes, my sharp teeth, my so-blond-it-was-white hair, my preoccupation with things that flew and fell. I wanted to feel the warmth of friendship, the blanketing comfort of acceptance, the touch of a hand that wouldn’t recoil - but it seemed like the kind of wish only a million shooting stars could possibly hope to give. I would go to the dollar store and pick out jewelry to drape over the girls in my class with their shimmering bronze skin and twinkling eyes. I drew pictures for anyone that made a request, laboring over them and forgoing my homework. I chased the boys on the playground, hunching over with my hands on my thighs because they never stopped running away. I just wanted love, any kind at all.
When I was a teenager, suddenly all of you thought I was beautiful. I wore sheer stockings, short sundresses, and strappy sandals. I put glitter on my clavicle, and painted my wide mouth a murderous red. I winked at the men on my walks downtown, exposing my throat as I laughed so that you’d imagine biting it with your teeth. I was just as vulnerable then, as I was when I was a young and unloved child. I thought I had to be the object of your desire. And then I was hurt, and bled, and screamed in silence.
It took me many years, and so many burned journal entries, to put my truth down. It took drowning in bottles of whiskey, and eating everything for weeks on end, and then eating nothing for weeks. It took sleeping with faceless men, hoping that they would worship my body. They never did; they never even called me again. It took adoring my love handles, my big thighs, my stomach that was no longer flat. It took taking back my goddamn power.
That power is not hers, his, yours, or theirs. This power is, finally, mine. I will post my photos in leotards and corsets without your permission. I strike poses with my legs wide and my sex hair wild. I write poems about erotica and love. I do not need your adoration. I do not need your love. I will write, rejoice in beauty, and love myself.
I have taken back my power.