Title inspired by a line from "My Parents Warned Me About This"
They tell me, “You’re just growing into your body.”
But if I’m really being honest, I’m not growing into my body, I’m growing out of it. The more dawns I see, the more birthdays that pass, I realize these thighs, these hips, these ribs, these lips, do not fit me. My body does not fit me.
I have been lying to myself, telling myself that this is what fits, that this is normal. That my hair is okay, that my eyes are alright without eyeliner, that yes I don’t have to wear tights.
Because, if you want the truth, I kind of do.
I wish I didn’t have this waist - a perfect hourglass figure, they tell me, you’re so lucky! they tell me - because it defines me and I do not wish to be defined. Because my figure and my chest should not be all that I am when I choose to wear a dress.
I wish I wore eyeliner - putting on makeup makes me feel composed, gives me a chance to collect myself, try to fit the pieces back together, hides the bags underneath my eyes that hang there like crescent moons.
I wish I had tights - I do not like my odd knees, my calves, my thick thighs, I am short and stocky, I should be okay with this. But I just want to wear tights.
The thing is, my body does not fit me. Some days, I layer on sports bras until my ribcage is flat, until my lungs have no space but at least I don’t have the chest of a girl anymore. Some days, it fits me just right but then my hair falls down my back again and I suddenly can’t breathe.
Most days, I just throw on a t-shirt and shorts, change kneesocks until I hope I don’t look like myself anymore. No, I’m not trans. I’m just genderqueer - whatever worth labels hold to my mind.
Some days, I cringe at the mention of “she” - I don’t know what fits, just not that. Maybe “they”, but how can I say that? Yes, sexuality is okay now in my society- except for separate romantic orientation and asexuality. Lucky me.
But gender? Gender is a taboo topic. Gender is male or female or trans. Gender is something I’m not supposed to touch. To my people (my society, my friends, my family) I should be safe in my identity as a girl. To them, I do not get to choose my gender.
I keep promising myself, telling myself, that when I have graduated college and gotten a job, that when I am an adult and safe and secure, I will change myself. I will change myself to be who I really am. I will make my body accurate.
But I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Because my hair is a shield. So pretty! they say. So long now! they say. How do you manage? they say. My hair makes me typical, makes me female, makes me pretty. My hair makes me invulnerable. My hair is a shield.
So how am I supposed to deal with wanting to chop it all off?
I hate it. If I’m being honest, it’s more trouble than it’s worth, it’s not “pretty” enough for me. Why is this the price I pay for societal security?
Let’s not even mention my build. I have grown up surrounded in all these statistics, drowning in them, waist-deep. I must slog through them to accept myself.
Taller women make more money and are respected more.
Prettier women make more money.
Men do better in business.
How do you think this makes me feel, as a short, somewhat-okay-looking, assigned-sex-female?
It makes me dislike who I am, but this is my body and my mind, and I would think that my ownership of myself would mean that I deserve to feel right in my skin. I walk around like a skeleton bending down to try and fit into this flesh.
It feels like living with your feet squeezed into the wrong sized shoes - one too big, the other too small. Except the feeling encompasses my entire body. This is not me - the cold, sick emotion in my gut as I stare at myself in the mirror. All I know is that this body is one that does not grow with me - if I could, I would smooth it out. Make my sides a bit straighter. Make my lips a little flatter. Make my shoulders a bit wider. Make myself a little taller. Make my legs less chunky, make my hair less long, make my hands less short, make my chest more flat-
Make myself fit.
But that's not how this works. It's not like I'm asking to smooth out my flaws. Everyone has something they don't like about their body. But this is different. This is my skin becoming too tight over these bones. This is realizing that you are not only a girl.
I wish I could wear different clothes, pipe up about cutting my hair off, ask to be called "they/them".
But they'd probably still only tell me, “You’re just growing into your body.”
I'm genderqueer and I’m scared. God, am I scared.
But this body is not mine.
And that scares me more.