WI TCHES M A GA Z I NE
I SSUE #2 JULY 2019
PH OTO BY NICO BERNARDI
I SSUE #2: BODI ES 2
CONTENTS MANIFESTA 04
LOANS TO NEAR- STRANGERS 38
I Do My Hair In My Under wear 06
Body Secur ities (con't) 43
Untitled 44- 45
PAPER SWANS 08
To My Left Fallopian Tube 46
Author ity 09
Office Work 47
She's Not A Str anger Anymore 11
Per fection 51
But Sometimes I For get 52
Body Secur ities 16- 17
An Open Letter to My Younger Self on Her Body 53
A Magical Tr ansfor mation From Girlhood To Womanhood 18
f ur beach body 56
I'm Not A Doctor 19
if ever 57
Middle School Health Class 20
Ice Cube, Potato, Sewing Needle 22
Contr ibutor s 61
Of Your Body 25
You Look Fine//The End 62
Keeping Things Whole 26 per iodt 27 A Timeline For Laur a Mulvey 28 Floating 29 More Than, Less Than, With 30 Things Of Nature 33 2009 PacSun Grey Skinny Jeans 34 Five Foot Three Inches, Shoe Size Six and a Half - or- Speaking Par tway Through 36 3
M A NI FESTA Witches M agazine began as a handwritten idea in the back of an old notebook in October of 2018. I t was born after 2 am, when my cup of tea had gone cold, my graduate school assignments had been pushed to the far side of my desk, and my thoughts were racing like I was living through a fever dream. I 'd spent the week keeping up with the U.S. senate hearing during which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely shared the story of her sexual assault, and then watching Brett Kavanaugh get confirmed as a Supreme Court justice in spite of Blasey Ford's testimony. Sick of sulking in my growing disappointment and anger, I felt compelled to do something, to make something that was overtly political and overtly feminist. The results of Dr. Blasey Ford's testimony had proven to me that women's stories were not valued like men's were, even in 2018, and I wanted to work to change that. I decided that night to begin a publication that centered girls' and women's voices. I scribbled down that Witches M agazine would try to create a space for girls and women to discuss sexism and feminism honestly, to write with nuance, to critique our culture, to mess up and teach each other, to admit our hypocrisy, and ultimately to have our voices, artwork, opinions, stories, and experiences centered, acknowledged, validated, and listened to. With these goals in mind, for each issue of Witches, girls and women are asked to contribute work related to that issue's theme. The title of Witches was inspired partially by the name of season 4, episode 6 of the show Broad City. The feminism we see in pop culture is often fun, sexy, lighthearted, and apolitical, but I think this episode of Broad City, despite having passed through the filter of capitalism, maintains some of the grittiness of feminism as an overtly political movement. The women characters in this episode are powerful and struggling and funny and flawed and resilient all at once, just like the Witches you're about to meet. Feminism is messy, uncomfortable, and difficult. I t is both personal and political. I t's about challenging a sexist culture, not just making individual, empowered choices. I t recognizes the downfalls of the gender binary. I t knows that men are negatively affected by patriarchy as well. I t requires an intersectional approach to be effective. I t is often exhausting and disheartening, but it is ultimately rooted in optimism. Our work in Witches is meant to reflect these values. This publication does not claim to be representative of what misogyny feels or looks like to every woman and girl. As a young woman who is very white, mostly straight, and relatively middle class, I recognize that mainstream feminist movements have 4
historically marginalized women of color, queer women, and transgender women and that I have a responsibility to make space in these pages for girls and women who are different than me. This is an essential element of my understanding of feminism and it consistently shapes the manifestation of my values in the personal, professional, and academic areas of my life. Witches centers the artwork and experiences of girls and women with the goal of challenging existing systems from angles that are actively anti-sexist, anti-racist, and anti-classist. The girls and women in this issue are committed to these ethics, and we are aware of our responsibility to continue learning, challenging, advocating, and growing with each issue. That being said, anyone who identifies as a girl or woman and is interested in sharing work that reflects her experiences within a sexist culture is invited and encouraged to join us. M y greatest hope is that Witches is beginning to create a community in which girls and women share their stories, discover commonalities, and learn from the ways their experiences contradict each other. I hope it's satisfying its contributors and entertaining its readers. I hope queer women and women of color feel welcomed into it and validated by it. I hope men are reading it, too. I hope it's teaching someone something. I hope it's making my parents proud. I f nothing else, I know that beginning Witches made the anger I began harboring after the senate hearing feel purposeful and proactive as my fellow Witches and I took concrete action to contribute to building a culture that values girls' and women's stories more, even if on a small scale. This second issue of Witches is about girls' and women's bodies. The theme was chosen during an era in which the President of the United States faces zero consequences for his many sexual assault allegations and brags about his believed entitlement to women's bodies. We've put this issue together as states are passing legislation placing extreme bans on abortion access. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh? the event that inspired Witches? gave the Supreme Court a conservative majority, an environment attractive to anti-choice state lawmakers hoping for the opportunity to challenge Roe v. Wade. M eanwhile, girls and women continue to fight every day against the pervasive social conditioning that has taught them to hate their bodies and has demonized their sexual desire. At the same time, they face a modern pressure to love their bodies and enjoy their sexuality exactly as is, and they are often damned to feelings of shame if they cannot meet this ideal. The Witches in this issue discuss experiencing their bodies in the midst of all of this and more. Sometimes their experiences are positive. Never are they simple.
I Do M y H air In M y Underwear By Claudia Sousa I do my hair in my underwear. T he first time I did my hair in my underwear, it was after a long stretch of avoiding mirrors. I had spent so many years of my life looking only at my face, sneaking quick glances at my body knowing that if I lingered beyond checking for wrinkled fabric or strained button holes I wouldn?t leave the house. I decided one day after a couple of months of therapy to commit to a journey of self- acceptance. I was nowhere near happy with my body, but the only thing I could be sure of was that I couldn?t continue my life in waves of punishment and shame. Restriction. Binge. Guilt. Rinse and Repeat as needed. And so instead every morning I began to do my hair in my underwear. I made it a point to look at the parts of me that felt threatening. Looking at these parts felt like looking at myself in the eyes. Raising my arms above my head, wrapping my hair around hot irons. Stretching my body up and then folding as I move from section to section. I started to meditate on the way my arms and chest sway while I move my toothbrush back and forth. H ow my stomach feels when I?m leaned over pressed against the countertop sliding off the suds from my face. Soft body against cool marble. Silent observation as stray drops of water cascade down my natural terrain. Carving a path over soft hills and a cracked facade. El Capitan. Denali. Rainier. After some mornings of tears and bitter resentment at the sight of my full form, there was a peace in seeing my body move and take care of itself in faint morning light. Up against the window, my body looks and feels like just another part of the wildness that lives behind the pane. And slowly the rolls and creases and lines became more familiar. And slowly they became less menacing. And eventually they paused in taunting my ability to exist. Sometimes mirrors still hurt. But I do my hair in my underwear. 6
I d eci d ed to d r aw th ese af t er a t y p i cal ar t sy T u m bl r gi r l p ost ed a sel f i e i n a m i l l en n i al p i n k ?baby gi r l ? t an k t op . Sh e w as r eal ly p r etty, tal l , sk i n n y, an d of cou r se (i t i s T u m bl r ), w h i t e. I st i l l m ad e m y car toon u n r eal i st i c, bu t I d eci d ed t o ad d h i p d i p s, th i cker th i gh s, an d d ar ker sk i n t on es. W h en I p ost th i s tr i p l i cat e, I alw ay s p ost t h e d ar ker sk i n n ed d r aw i n g f i r st. I th i n k t h at t oo of t en , bl ack w om en ar e an af ter t h ou gh t. T h ei r sk i n ton e i s r ar ely av ai l abl e i n m akeu p sh ad e r an ges, an d i f i t i s i t's alw ay s t h e l ast f ew sh ad es (f or ex am p l e, col or 1 w i l l be i vor y, an d col or 12 w i l l be t h e d ar kest sh ad e). T h i s p atter n i s r ep eated al m ost ever y w h er e i n t h e beau t y i n d u str y. I k n ow i t seem s a l i t t l e su r f ace t o sp ecu l at e, bu t w h y i sn ?t i t th at af ter al l th ese y ear s, m or e br an d s d on ?t p u t d ar ker sh ad es f i r st? W h y d on ?t bl ack w om en or w om en w i t h sk i n d ar ker t h an tan get t o be f i r st ? M ay be l i ttl e th i n gs, l i ke tr ai n i n g y ou r br ai n t o see d ar ker sk i n f i r st, m i gh t m ake y ou r eal i ze h ow of t en bl ack w om en ar e p u sh ed t o t h e si d e. BY N AO M I PAJA RI L L O 7
PA PER SW A N S By A l ex a M au zy - L ew i s y ou r h or oscop e p r om i sed th at th e n ew y ear w ou l d br i n g y ou a sw an m ad e ou t of p ap er . I t ook a cr u m p l ed r ecei p t an d googl ed ?h ow t o m ake a p ap er sw an ? becau se i t sou n d ed so n i ce. i t ?s f u n n y h ow th i n gs can ben d so m u ch f ar t h er t h an y ou u su al ly t h i n k t h ey can . even w h en th ey tear , th er e ar e w ay s t o h i d e, t r an sf or m , m ake i t beau t i f u l as i f i n t en ti on al . w r i n k l ed an d f l i m sy, i t st i l l l ooked al i ve. l i ke w h en I sp en d m y d ay s ty p i n g w or d s i n t o boxes. A n d i t?s al l sh i f t , ty p e, en ter , r ep eat , sh i f t t y p e, en t er r ep eat . st op . si p . sh i f t. A n d I w an t to k i l l m y sel f to m ake i t st op , bu t ou r l abor i s th e w ay w e l ear n to d ef i n e ou r selves. even w h en i t ?s si ck ly w i th st i l l n ess. t h i s i s m y exch an ge f or ex i st en ce. A n d I cal l i t p assi on . I p r i n t ou t p ap er s an d th i n k abou t f ol d i n g t h em i n t o p ap er sw an s becau se n ow I k n ow h ow. m ay be th r ow i n g th em ou t of a w i n d ow of a m an h at t an h i gh r i se an d w at ch i n g t h em f ly i n to u n su sp ect i n g h ead s. w ou l d som eon e p ay m e f or on e? i f I p u sh ed ar ou n d a car t f u l l of p ap er sw an s on t h e su bw ay ? som eti m es I w i l l w al k ar ou n d u n t i l m y f eet bl eed becau se t h i s i s w h at I w an t to d o w h en I d on 't w an t to th i n k an d th i s i s h ow t o n ot t h i n k f or f r ee. m y bod y, cl i ck i n g an d sh i f t i n g, i t 's th e on e th i n g I ow n com p l et ely. A n d I cal l i t m i n e. t h e bi r d s an d I k n ow w h en i t i s ti m e t o eat , bu t t h er e ar e d ay s w h en I on ly h ave a f ew p en n i es r at tl i n g ar ou n d i n m y br ai n . A n d I cal l t h at r est r ai n t . t h e k i cked d ogs an d I k n ow w h en th e sk i n can ?t bear t o be t ou ch ed an d an y f i n ger l ook s l i ke a l i t m at ch , bu t I l et y ou tou ch an y w ay. A n d I cal l i t p r ogr ess. I k n ow w h en y ou w an t m e an d w h en I w an t to f eel w an t ed . A n d I cal l i t l ove. m ay be th i s i s t h e f eel i n g th ey say h ap p en s w h i l e y ou ?r e d r ow n i n g. w h en y ou r bu r n i n g cel l s st op scr eam i n g an d ju st say h ey i t i s w h at i t i s. l i ken ed t o ser en i ty. I alw ay s th ou gh t th at w ou l d be th e n i cest w ay t o go. A n d w e cal l i t cal m . I f l atten ed ou t y ou r sw an r ecei p t t o see h ow m u ch I h ad sp en t at CV S. t h e f r agi l i t y of ex i sten ce can be ter r i f y i n g. bu t i t?s f u n n y h ow th e bod y can ben d so m u ch f ar t h er t h an y ou t h i n k i t can . th er e ar e so m an y w ay s to f ol d , to cr ease, t o t ear , t o cr u m p l e. t o becom e m or e u n r ecogn i zabl e th e cl oser y ou get t o h ow y ou began . 8
Authority By Tori Thomson Hi, I?m one of the 30 million people in the U.S. who struggle with disordered eating. Here are some quick facts: - Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with one person dying every 62 minutes as a result of disordered eating. - Eating disorders are highly comorbid with mood disorders like major depressive disorder. - The prevalence rate of anorexia among young women has been on the rise for the last 50 years. - W hile eating disorders affect boys and men as well, the rates are anywhere from 3 to 10 times higher for girls and women, depending on the diagnosis in question. Despite the striking and alarming facts above, the majority of people I know have an extremely limited and often biased understanding of what eating disorders are and how they affect people. Folks are quick to dismiss eating disorder stories unless they are sensational. If you aren?t on death?s doorstep, what?s the big deal? W hy can?t you just get over it?Isthiseven real? W hen I sat down to write this, what came out was an exhaustive narrative of every painful experience I?ve ever had living in my body. A blow-by-blow of my eating disorder, its causes, and all the ways it slipped in and tainted every good, bad, or mediocre thing that?s happened in the last 15 years of my life. Someday I might finish that narrative and put it out into the world because it?s important to me to share those experiences. But it became clear to me as I was writing that part of what I was doing was trying to prove that I had been ?sick enough?through those experiences to be a qualified speaker on this topic. ?Listen to my voice because I know what I?m talking about. SEE?! THIS IS REAL!? 9
W omen don?t assume people will listen when we talk. Even when we talk about our personal experiences, the threat of someone swooping in to explain to us how surely what we meant was thisis always looming. I once had an argument with a man about an event I was present for. Despite the fact that he was not present for this event, he continued to attempt to explain my own experience to me and insist that I was wrong. My repetition of the statement ?I W AS THERE?was not admissible as evidence in this conversation. W hat I saw, heard, and understood using my human eyes, ears, and brain was not sufficient to defeat the opinion of a man who was not there. The ignoring and outright silencing of women?s experiences is nothing new. As a straight-passing cis white woman I?ve faced a much milder version of it than the more extreme and violent forms that exist. Still, it doesn?t come as a surprise to me that I?ve been conditioned to assume no one will trust my expertise, even when it comes to my experiences of my own body. As I write this, the fight for reproductive freedom is in full swing across the country. Overwhelmingly, the folks making decisions that restrict this freedom are cis men. Men who believe that they have the right to wield authority over bodies that don?t belong to them. To explain to the owners of those bodies that what they want is wrong, what they believe is wrong, that they themselves are just plain wrong. So right now, instead of trying to prove myself as an authority on the incredibly dangerous effects of a cultural obsession with thinness that ruins lives and kills people in service of maintaining control over women?s power (whew), I?d like to state something for the record. I am the sole authority on my body. I am the only one who can reliably relate my body?s experiences. W hen I talk about what my body has been through, I am never wrong.
SHE'S NOT A STRANGER ANYMORE
BY KRISTINE ALACH
By Rachel Dean There?s something unique about the sensation of wanting an unattainable thing? desire suspended in anticipation, actively charged? the world is full of variable futures, anything might happen. As a child, I wanted a pony with such fervor that I read hundreds of horse books, fell asleep dreaming of horses, taped posters of Andalusians and Appaloosas to my bedroom walls. But the unattainable becoming attainable? the sought after thing surrendering itself? interrupts the delicious expectation that accompanies not having, similar to the way all spiritual gurus wager that humans?perpetual drive to buy more things? shoes, clothes, cars, houses? makes us blind to the wealth we have in the present, numbs us to the lessons learned from having to want and wait. Had I gotten a pony eventually, owning the pony couldn?t have competed with my more perfect expectation of one day having one. I would have had to clean up after it and learn the complex habits of taking care of a large animal; I would have had to do real, unpleasant work. It is sometimes easier to live with want than to live with the fulfillment and consequence of want. When our desires sit on fat, distant horizons it is easy to love them, to pine for them? they are blurrily out of reach. *** At dinner a few weeks ago, I admitted to my parents that I was afraid of getting older. I have come to like my body, finally? having replaced my old hatred and distrust of it with something more manageable. Now I fear that soon I?ll lose youth, and then what? What currency will my body have? I am interested in what it means to harbor lusts and desires in a slowly-going physical form? in a body that has an eventual and inevitable expiration. How do we live, how do we say yes to our wants, how do we say no to them when they are selfish, how do we know the difference between a brief craving and a genuine and lasting yearning? Does the difference even matter, if life is short? *** The phrase ?history of the body? has entered common language as a signifier for the body?s cataloged experiences. For as long as I can
remember, I have wanted to understand my ?relationship to my body,?? explore its history through writing essays. In college, and then in graduate school, when I explained to professors that I wanted to interrogate this very theme through a series of ref lective narratives, they looked at me with practiced compassion. I imagined they?d accepted many young women into their offices, who begged license to ask and then answer this question. Maybe they were tired of it. It?s too generalizable, they said. What do you actually mean? *** They were right, in some ways? ?relationship? and ?body? are abstract terms, vague in both intention and effect. But I didn?t yet know what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it. Nor did I understand why I was so infatuated with a seemingly unanswerable question. Why had I spent so long fearing my body? and why did wanting to hurt my body, and wanting to satisfy it, sometimes feel like the same pursuit? *** Growing up Catholic, I was taught that separation from the physical body was a virtue of the highest order; the transcendence of physical desire, moving beyond it in favor of adopting the spirit as a guiding compass, meant that a person had reached a closer relationship with God. Holiness, of course, was the end goal of Catholicism?s relentless shaming? if one simply understood their true nature, they could begin to accommodate badness and predict sins before they were committed? a kind of religious conditioning. Like Pavlov and his famous salivating canines, but instead of dogs drooling at the ticking of a metronome, it was humans hearing the thunderous voice of God? shame?s catalyst? and responding accordingly. A more admirable conditioning, but obedience and subordinance just the same. But it was difficult to discern whether my relentless guilt was a product of patriarchal cultural contexts, or whether it was inherited, at least in part, from Catholicism?s narratives of evil women. Maybe the two are similar? sides of one coin that is constantly and eternally flipped. There was Eve, Delilah, Mary Magdalene. The countless concubines and whores of scripture. Women reduced to their bodies, because their bodies were agents of sin, the vessel they had surrendered to, which inevitably distanced them from God. Men, too, were condemned in the Old and New Testaments, but rarely because they had made a physical transgression.
Theirs were of a higher, perhaps more cynical, order? collecting taxes from the poor, ignoring God?s weighty call, denying him in times of crisis. I struggled with feminine biblical narratives for so long in part because I have always been a vastly impressionable person. I will read an article, or a book, or listen to an intelligent person speak, and I am very easily moved. So, rather expectedly, Bible stories terrified me. They felt true, mainly because I had recognized these impulses in myself already, even as a young girl. I pined for things with such obsessiveness that I sometimes imagined I might manifest them myself, like some kind of dark arts conjuror. I wanted a horse. Then I wanted beauty. Then I wanted a boyfriend. Then, later, I simply wanted? everything, and everyone, who looked at me. *** Of course it?s not surprising, then, to admit that I entered young adulthood suspicious of my body. I engineered a very exhaustive system, in which I warred plaintively with myself over the flexibility of ?moral? codes, and then made the choice I had always known I would make, the one I wanted to make from the beginning. Only after, once pleasure had subsided, did I consider the consequences of my choice? more accrued time spent in Purgatory upon my death, or worse, an eternity spent in Hell. As a child, I had been taught that only the Virgin Mary visited those in Purgatory; she was the only one who could barter on their behalf? the Saints had no jurisdiction, no real power, in that in-between place. Saint Faustina? a nun and mystic of the early twentieth century? had had a vision of the Virgin mercifully visiting the collected masses. She wrote that the Virgin had dipped her veil in the coolest water, and let it drip onto the exposed tongues of the suffering, who longed with unabated fervency to join God and his good people in Heaven. This is one case where I believe the fulfillment of want must trump the wait for it? to see the Virgin Mary, descending from heaven to visit you in your agony, would be ecstasy of the highest order. These reported stories, however frightening, were also tantalizing. To a shameful girl, the existence of an all-forgiving Mother who intervened on behalf of the sinful seemed fated, perfect. Again, I wanted? to believe, to be believed, to be the epitome of feminine goodness. ***
I like to tell my college students? new and embarrassed writers? that a compelling want is the marker of all good writing. Give your narrator a handy desire, make them greedy, and all your readers will understand. Writing my own desires has acquainted me with them; has required me to face my shame and my craving? never mutually exclusive? with more honesty. Now that I know my body better, I am interested in giving it what it wants. Because I spent so many years unfamiliar with myself, now I am in pursuit of impulse. Selfishness. Is that an appropriate response to years of abstinence, to years of shame? Maybe not. It is easier, as I have said, to acknowledge all the paths I may have taken, to observe them lustfully from afar, rather than to have followed each one to its end. In many ways, hurt is always attached to want, and I have so many wants, that how could I sustain the disappointments that accompany their fulfillment? I may want to follow every person home who looks at me kindly, who listens to me kindly, but this does not mean I should, does not mean I ever should have. *** In many ways, at 23 years old, I am trying to reconcile the experiences I did not have with the ones I want to have. To repeat that old cliche? I am not the girl I once was, though sometimes I wish I could be her. Lately, I have been thinking ceaselessly about mortality, and how living in a wanting body is a constant reminder of life?s limits, of the impending arrival of a near or far off death. I am afraid of age; I am afraid that I will get old and no one will look at me, or want me, and that my own want? drowned as it was in my best years? will be useless. As a teenager and a young adult, I?d often joked? to myself? that my raging hormones, my lusts, were a vestigial organ. I was doomed; I?d never put them to any good use, because I couldn?t. Years later, I am jealous of girls, turned women, who listened to their bodies, who loved their bodies, who have stories to tell and listeners to oblige them. Who loved and did not question that love. It?s as if I exist at the fringe of a glorious melee? the careful romance observer I always was? never able to say I?ve been there, I know what you mean, only able to listen and nod politely. Is it strange to covet other people?s stories?
DRAWING BY NAOMI PAJARILLO PHOTO SERIES BY NICO BERNARDI
I ask ed a f ew of my f ri ends i f I coul d ph otograph th e parts of th ei r bodi es th ey w ere most i nsecure about i n an attempt to recl ai m th e th i ngs th ey f i nd most di f f i cul t to accept. Th i s i s K ri sti ne, w h o tol d me sh e's i nsecure about h er stomach . Pl ayi ng of f of M azy, th e dog, w h o's i nsecure about h er ow n stomach j ust a bi t, got both of th em smi l i ng and bl i ssf ul l y at ease. 17
A M agical T ransfor m ation From Girlhood To Wom anhood By Victoria Lindenmeyer At the age of ten, I was given a book on how to take care of my body when it came time for puberty. From the moment it was gifted to me, I was told that my growing body was a thing to be kept secret. It was required that I bury the book deep down into my backpack so no curious boys could find it. T he puberty book became a mysterious legend that the boys would talk about in the playground, and the girls would shamefully avoid or ignore. When it came time for our lessons, we were all forced to sit inside and learn how to clean our bodies while they got extra recess time. I remember spending hours at home, staring at each page, examining each figure. O ne page in particular, which showed images of how breasts will look through different stages, caught most of my attention. N ot only was it the first time I saw breasts other than my own (and probably my first sexual awakening, but I?ll save that for another time), but it got me excited for my future, for when I?d finally become a woman. Every time I?d take a shower, I?d look down and see if they got any bigger. I would thinking, ?O nce they are big enough that I can?t see my feet, I will be a woman and a man will want to be with me.? Was that not the ultimate goal? For a man to choose a woman to date and potentially marry? For some reason, starting in elementary school, that was my priority. Slowly but surely, my body began to grow and change, but not in the way I was told or expected. What I thought would be a magical transformation from girlhood to womanhood ended up being a horrific mutation of the body. M y pores began to erupt in painful red bumps, so I slathered my mom?s foundation over them. I grew taller than anyone in my grade, which made school dances a thing to fear. Long purplish-red lines appeared on my stomach, hips, thighs, and arms. Worst of all, these lines covered my breasts, growing longer and wider every day. I panicked, flipping through my book to see what I did wrong to deserve these. T he images of breasts I knew so well never showed this, my teachers never told me about this, none of my friends were talking about this. I must have not cleaned my body enough, or maybe God was punishing me. I spent countless nights crying over what my disgusting body was doing to me. What upset me the most was that no man could ever love me when my greatest assets were marked with grotesque marks I could never remove. Instead of becoming a beautiful woman, I became a monster. Time went on and, with that, the stretch marks faded away. N ow, I am left with faint lines that remind me of this past. I wish I could say that they are now a symbol of empowerment, something I am proud of. But I would be lying. Although they may not be symbols of power, they no longer affect me as much as they used to. Instead, they are my timeline, a collection of memories that without, I wouldn?t be who I am today. 18
?T he facts show that people w ho are raped? w ho are tr uly raped? the juices don't flow , the body functions don't work, and they don't get pregnant.? - H enry A ldr idge, N C St ate R ep., R epublican When Senator Clyde Chambliss, a Republican of Alabama, was asked if the law would allow for incest victims to obtain abortions, he said, ?Yes, until she knows she?s pregnant.? Does life begin at concept ion? ?The egg in t he [IVF] lab doesn?t apply. It?s not in a woman. She?s not pregnant.? -Clyde Chambliss, AL St ate Senator, Republican ?From what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare... If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.? -Todd Akin, MO State Rep., Republican
?I?m not a doctor. I don?t k now.? -Dan Flynn, Texas State Rep., Republi can Prominent pundit Ben Shapiro confidently conflates the concept of ?six weeks of pregnancy? with ?a six-week-old embryo.? Samantha Bee: Have you thought about regulating the safety of
back alleys? Because that?s where a lot of women will be having their abortions now. Dan Flynn, Texas State Rep., Republican:
I don?t believe that. I just don?t. I just don?t think that happens. 19
I ce Cu be, Pot at o, Sew i n g N eed l e By Gr ay son D al e For ty tw o y ear s ago I got p r egn an t . W as I car el ess? You k n ow I w as. Jeez, I w as 16 y ear s ol d . D i d I k n ow bet t er ? O f cou r se I d i d . D i d I th i n k i t w ou l d ever h ap p en t o m e? N ot i n a m i l l i on y ear s. W e l i ve an d w e l ear n . Som et i m es w e?r e l u ck y en ou gh t o l ear n f r om t h e m i stakes of oth er s, som et i m es w e?r e n ot t h at l u ck y. I h op e som eon e can l ear n f r om m y m i st ake. T h i s i s m y st or y. W as I i n l ove? I th ou gh t I w as. I t w as t h e 70 s. Ever y bod y w as h av i n g sex . T h e bi ggest w or r y abou t h av i n g u n p r ot ect ed sex w as ven er eal d i sease. Str ai gh t u p , or d i n ar y sy p h i l i s an d gon or r h ea. N ot h i n g an i n jecti on of p en i ci l l i n cou l d n ?t h an d l e. Yes, I h ap p en ed to ex p er i en ce th at l ovely sex u al ly t r an sm i t t ed d i sease f r om t h i s l ove of m i n e, w h o con v i n ced m e h ow d i f f i cu l t i t w as t o t el l m e h e h ad i t, an d h ow sad h e w as, u n t i l I bel i eved i t w as m y f au l t h e w as sad . N ow th at?s l ove. I gu ess I w as on e of th e ?u n l u ck y ? on es. O r m ay be I w as ju st l i ke ever y on e el se, gr ow i n g u p w i t h n o r eal com m u n i cat i on w i t h m y p ar en t s, even th ou gh m y f r i en d s w er e alw ay s jeal ou s of t h e r el ati on sh i p th ey th ou gh t I h ad w i t h m y m ot h er . M ay be becau se sh e w as obl i v i ou s to w h at w as r eal ly goi n g on i n m y t een age w or l d . M ay be sh e ju st d i d n ?t get a ch an ce t o ch eck i n on m e. M ay be I w as ju st y ou n g an d i m m at u r e, l i v i n g i n a f am i ly w i t h m an y secr ets. I su r e m an aged t o acqu i r e a f ew of m y ow n . Real ly i t w as ju st su r v i val . W ou l d I h ave gi ven u p m y v i r gi n i t y so y ou n g an d so easi ly i f som eon e i n m y l i f e h ad t ol d m e t o w ai t ? N ot w ai t f or ?th e on e,? bu t to at l east w ai t u n t i l I w as m at u r e en ou gh t o m ake d eci si on s based on m y f eel i n gs an d r ead i n ess? T r u th i s, I ju st d i d n ?t ever say n o. I t h ou gh t gi r l s w h o w an t ed boy s t o l ove th em h ad to ?d o i t .? A l l of m y f r i en d s w er e ?d oi n g i t .? Even on e of m y best f r i en d s got p r egn an t . I gu ess t h at cou l d h ave been t h e af or em en ti on ed ?l ear n f r om t h e m i st akes of ot h er s.? W h at I d i d l ear n w as th at i f y ou got p r egn an t y ou cou l d go t o Bi l l Bai r d an d get an abor ti on , l i ke goi n g t o t h e m al l t o get y ou r ear s p i er ced . For th e r ecor d , I d i d n ?t get m y ear s p i er ced at t h e m al l . 22
I f ou n d an i ce cu be, a p otato, an d a sew i n g n eed l e an d p i er ced t h em m y sel f . A n y w ay, back to m y stor y. I k n ew I w as p r egn an t t h e f i r st t i m e I h ad to get ou t of bed i n t h e m i d d l e of t h e n i gh t t o p ee. I r em em ber th e n i gh ts I l ay i n bed d r i f t i n g of f t o sl eep k n ow i n g I sh ou l d em p ty m y bl ad d er bu t ch oosi n g t o w ai t u n t i l t h e m or n i n g. Fu n t i m es. T h en th er e w as t h e m or n i n g si ck n ess, w h i ch f or m e w as 24 h ou r s a d ay. H ow m u ch n au sea cou l d be bl am ed on p r egn an cy h or m on es an d h ow m u ch on st r ess i s u n cl ear . H ow m an y d ay s w as I p r egn an t? I ?ll say 22. I m i gh t be of f a d ay or t w o so I ch ose 22 becau se th at?s a good n u m ber . Bu t I k n ow w h i ch t i m e w as w h en th at sp er m an d egg u n i t ed . M y boy f r i en d w as p r ett y ex p er i en ced . H e w as good l ook i n g, an d f r om a m u ch r ou gh er tow n t h an m i n e. H e u sed t o h i t ch h i ke t o m y h ou se, a good 25 m i l es aw ay, at t i m es w i t h a St ev i e W on d er or Peter Fr am p ton al bu m u n d er h i s ar m . I w ou l d sm u ggl e a bed sh eet ou t of th e l i n en cl oset , h i d e i t u n d er m y coat , an d br i n g i t i n t o t h e w ood s to f i n d a secl u d ed sp ot t o d o i t . O u r on ly f or m of bi r t h con tr ol w as w i th d r aw al . H e boast ed abou t h ow h e n ever got a gi r l p r egn an t. W e l ef t th e sh eet i n th e w ood s becau se I d i d n ?t w an t t o get cau gh t br i n gi n g a d i r ty, l eaf y sh eet back h om e. Bu t I d on ?t t h i n k an y on e w ou l d h ave n oti ced . (T h er e w as al so a sh or t age of sp oon s i n m y h ou se. D i d I m en ti on m y br ot h er s d i d d r u gs?) M ov i n g f or w ar d . A f ter a h ar d w i n t er of h i t ch h i k i n g, m y boy f r i en d m an aged to get a r eal ly ol d r ed st ep v an u p an d r u n n i n g. I r em em ber th e tw o bu cket seat s i n t h e f r on t an d t h at t h e back w as r u sty an d gr oss. I r em em ber 3 sp eed s on t h e col u m n an d r ever se w as ?sh ot.? I r em em ber i t w as r eal ly h ar d t o p ar k . I t w as ti m e to ch r i sten ?bi g r ed ? an d bef or e y ou k n ew i t I w as st r ad d l i n g m y boy f r i en d (w h o l oved m e so m u ch t h at i t m ad e h i m sad t o tel l m e h e gave m e V D ) an d su d d en ly T H ERE W A S N O W AY W I T H D RAW A L W A S GO N N A H A PPEN I N T H AT PO SI T I O N . FU CK K K K K K !!!! I p r ay ed th at I w asn ?t p r egn an t . Bar gai n ed w i t h God on so m an y l evel s. Bu t I w as p r egn an t . Ex act ly 2 w eek s l at er I d i d n ?t get m y p er i od an d h ad to get ou t of bed t o p ee an d I w an t ed t o p u ke 23
ever y secon d of ever y d ay an d m y boobs h u r t . Bi l l Bai r d h er e w e com e. W e n ever d i scu ssed t h e p ossi bi l i t y of h av i n g th e baby. I d on ?t r eal ly k n ow w h y. Som et i m es I t h i n k i t w as becau se I alw ay s w an ted h i m t o l ove m e. Pr obl em i s I d i d n ?t l ove m y sel f . N ot en ou gh . I ?m t h an k f u l I d i d n ?t h ave t h e st r u ggl e of t r y i n g to cr eate a f ai r y tal e l i f e w i t h t h i s boy f r om a r ou gh t ow n w h o p r obably d i d l ove m e i n h i s r ou gh w ay w h i ch w as n ot en ou gh l ove. Si n ce h om e p r egn an cy t est s h ad n ?t h i t K i ck st ar t er y et , I h ad n o w ay of con f i r m i n g m y w or st f ear u n t i l t h e of f i ci al ex am at Bi l l Bai r d ?s. Su r e en ou gh , PO SI T I V E. Fu ck , t h i s i s r eal ly h ap p en i n g. T h e d oct or i s h er e on T h u r sd ay s, p l an on bei n g h er e al l d ay. $180 w i t h ou t an est h esi a, m or e w i t h (h ow m u ch m or e d oesn ?t m at t er ). I h ad t o bor r ow i t f r om a f r i en d w h o h ad a r eal ban k accou n t . I t t ook m e 9 m on t h s t o p ay i t back . T h er e w as cou n sel i n g, t h er e w er e ch oi ces an d alw ay s t h e op ti on to ch an ge y ou r m i n d . T h ey m ad e su r e ever y gi r l l ef t w i t h som e f or m of bi r t h con t r ol . Rh - n egat i ve bl ood m ean s an ex tr a $20 f or th e an t i bod y sh ot . W e d i d n ?t h ave $20 . W e d i d n ?t h ave $1. T h er e w er e n o d ebi t car d s back t h en an d even i f t h er e w er e w e d i d n ?t h ave an y sav i n gs. T h e w om an th er e w as so k i n d an d u n d er st an d i n g. T h ei r sol u ti on w as to keep h i s l i cen se u n t i l w e m ai l ed a m on ey or d er f or $20 . I w asn ?t ol d en ou gh to h ave a l i cen se. T h e p r oced u r e w as m y p u n i sh m en t . I bel i eved I d eser ved i t . I t w as over i n ten m i n u tes, abou t t h e sam e am ou n t of t i m e i t t ook t o com p l i cate l i f e. I w i sh I h ad som et h i n g p r of ou n d t o say. I d on ?t . T h i s i s w h at m y bod y, m i n d , an d sou l w en t t h r ou gh w h en I w as 16, an d I ?m su r e i t h ad a h u ge i m p act on t h e w om an , an d m om , t h at I am tod ay. L et?s be r eal i sti c, i f Bi l l Bai r d w asn ?t av ai l abl e I w ou l d h ave f ou n d an i ce cu be, a p otato, an d a sew i n g n eed l e.
Of You r Bod y By Sam an t h a Su p sk y Dear M om , Th an k you for l en din g m e you r body. I don ?t k n ow h ow you did it du r in g th at scor ch in g su m m er of 1995, sittin g by a pool you cou l dn ?t swim in (doctor 's or der s), you r feet su bm er ged in ice. I was r el u ctan t to l eave you r wom b, per h aps k n owin g th e wor l d ou tside of it was n ever goin g to be as com for tabl e as it was with you . Bu t I l eft. Even tu al l y. Two week s l ate, sor r r r r yyyy. I gr ew u p. M y body took for m . Som etim es it was cool (boobs) an d som etim es it su ck ed (bel l y), bu t h er e I am today in th e body of you r body, an d al l th e bodies befor e u s. I took pr ide in bein g th e fir st. I?ve em br aced th e ol dest sister l ife an d al l th at com es with it. I?m th e big sister ,m y ego wil l accept n oth in g el se. I n ever th ou gh t twice abou t h ow per fect ou r fam il y dyn am ic is. An d th en I fou n d ou t th er e was on e befor e m e. A gir l , you in sist, al th ou gh th er e?s n o way we cou l d ever k n ow. Th e tr u e pion eer of you r r epr odu ctive or gan s, an d per h aps th e disadvan taged on e wh en you exer cised you r r igh t over th ose sam e body par ts. Th er e?s n o way we cou l d ever k n ow. Al l I k n ow is you r l ove for you r ch il dr en . Th e su ppor t you pr ovided u s wh il e we sh ar ed a body an d al l th e year s after. Th an k you for th e space you cr eated, for u s to th r ive as fr ien ds an d fam il y. Th an k you for exem pl ifyin g fem in ism for m e, teach in g m e to h ave agen cy over M Y body. You r dau gh ter s n otice wh at you ?ve don e for u s, so th an k you . Love, Sam 25
Keep i n g th i n gs w h ol e Tod ay f eel s l i ke a Su n d ay, a sof t br acket i n t h e t u m u l t of th e w eek . I am w ear i n g m y m ot h er ?s f ace, a beau ti f u l p l at e cr acked i n h al f , on e h an d on t h e h u m m i n g d i sh w at er , t h e oth er f eel i n g m y m ot h er w ou n d . T h e m u f f l ed t h u m p i n g i n si d e th e r i bs h i t s th e p an e of t h e l aced w i n d ow, an d I cl ose m y ey es t o bl i n d th e ech o. Soon , th er e w i l l be br eat h bl oom i n g ar ou n d , an d f ace, p l at es an d gh ost bi r d w i l l gai n tex tu r e, a st an d i n g p r esen ce.
BY CL A RA BU RGH EL EA
BY NAOM I PAJARILLO 27
A T i m el i n e Fo r L au r a M u l v ey By H ad l ey D i on I f I w r ap p ed m y br east s I n bar bed w i r e D r i p p ed bl ood I n stead of sex ap p eal W ou l d y ou f i n al ly aver t y ou r ey es Ei gh t W h en t h ey w er e ju st bu d s I w or e cr ossbod y bags D i ggi n g i n to m y st er n u m Ju st t o p u t on a sh ow W atch i n g boy s w i t h p r ep u bescen t stach es L i ck t h ei r l i p s Ey es l i n ger i n g
T h i r t een I w oke u p w i th h i p s Som eon e cal l ed m e p ear sh ap ed A n d I cr i ed Becau se n on e of th e gi r l s w i th boy f r i en d s L ooked l i ke f r u i t Fi f t een L i n d say got f r ee l ava cake Fr om a sw eaty gu y at D om i n os Ju st f or sp or ti n g a p u sh u p br a T h at ?s w h en I k n ew M y ti t s ar e th e m ost i m p or tan t p ar t O f m y p i n k tool k i t Bett er th an an y oth er gad get T h at h el p s w i th a scr ew So I st ar t ed to l et th em sh ow L ow cu t H i gh sp i r i ts Ever y boy w i l l ask y ou to d an ce
Beh i n d t h em T h ei r f at h er s w ou l d com e i n t o f ocu s Com m en t i n g on h ow f ast I w as gr ow i n g D evel op i n g ah ead of t h e cl ass
U n t i l y ou sk i p a d an ce O r th at f r at p ar ty W h er e y ou r r oom m ate en d s u p i n th e I CU Bl ood on h er sh oes
T en I got m y p er i od I n an el em en t ar y sch ool bat h r oom stal l Toi l et p ap er p ad d ed L i m i t ed Too u n d er w ear Cam i l l e l au gh ed w h en sh e t ol d m e I cou l d get p r egn an t n ow
N i n et een I tr i ed to scr u b th e r ed ou t of h er f r ock Bu t w e d eci d ed to th r ow i t aw ay Sh e sai d ever y th i n g w as r u i n ed I st u p i d ly th ou gh t sh e m ean t th e d r ess W e st u f f ed h er u n d er w ear w i th ti ssu e Bu t n ot becau se of n at u r e?s w ay T h er e?s n oth i n g n at u r al abou t I n v ad i n g a st r an ger ?s bod y
W as I f eel i n g m y f i r st ever cr am p s O r w er e t h ey ju st k n ot s of sh am e I becam e col d t o gr ow n m en Bu t t h ey n ever st op p ed l ook i n g Even w h en I w or e t ow el s at p ool p ar ti es I k n ew h ow easy i t w ou l d be t o r i p th at cover aw ay
For an en ti r e d ay I h el d h er v i ol ated bod y i n bed M y sh ap e i s sof t A sof t th at boy s w an t to r ou gh en W an t to scr at ch an d bi te an d ch oke Bu t to h er th e sof t f el t l i ke m oth er ?s 28
l ove M y bod y f i n al ly ex p l oi t ed f or al l th e r i gh t r eason s T w en t y - o n e I f I w as M ed u sa I ?d h ave t o h i r e a m ai d To d u st al l t h e st at u es i n m y l ai r I sh r ou d m y br east s an d cu r ves i n m y st er y ?Excu se m e, i n w h at ai sl e ar e t h e p otat o sack s?? I r ath er h ave n o sex ap p eal T h an be sex u al i zed A gai n st m y w i l l For a cu p si ze O u t of m y con tr ol T w en t y - t w o O n l i n e t h ey f eti sh i ze M y st r et ch m ar k s PAW G N ow m y bod y bel on gs t o t h em L azi ly st r ok i n g t h ei r d i ck s T h ey i m agi n e m y t h i gh s W r ap p ed ar ou n d t h ei r w ai st s W h i l e I i m agi n e M y t h u n d er t h i gh s W r ap p ed ar ou n d t h ei r t h r oat s T h er e?s n o saf e w or d t h i s t i m e T w en t y - f o u r I ?ll ser ve y ou m y f l esh w h en I f eel l i ke cook i n g A n d i f t h e k i t ch en i s cl osed You ?ll sl eep on an em p t y st om ach I ?ll sen d y ou p i ct u r es O f m e bar e W h en I w an t // N ot w h en y ou ask I k n ow y ou l i ke i t T h e sel f i e m y can v as
M y bod y a l an d scap e You ?ll d r i n k m e i n w i th on e si p Bu t on ly becau se I h el d th e cu p To y ou r l i p s Ever y su p p l e i n ch Reser ved f or m y ow n f i n ger s To tr ace i n th e d ar k A n d f or l over s T h at m ake m e see l i l ac W h en th ey su ck m y cl i t A gel ess T r ead l i gh t ly W i th y ou r h an d s ey es d i ck s T h e sk i n y ou w an t so bad To su ck l e an d r u b I s m y ar m or A n d m y ed ges ar e k n ow n to sl i ce I d i d n ?t get bor n ou t of st ar d u st For a sl op p y d r u n k To p u t h i s h an d s on m e I w i l l cal l y ou r w i ves I w i l l d ox y ou r son s I w i l l bu r n y ou r f r at er n i t i es d ow n A n d d an ce i n th e ash es w i th m y si st er s
D RAW I N G BY K RI ST I N E A L ACH 29
M O RE T H A N , L ESS T H A N , W I T H
BY KALEY ROBERTS 83 pounds. It?s rare to feel first so much more than, and then immediately and as a result, starkly less than. Standing on the scale, that happens all the time. That was the first time, at 83 pounds. Anything sub-100, it?s hard to imagine a girl caring, contextualizing, even knowing scales are meant for stepping on. But my friends knew, my mom knew, and my friends?moms knew. So, confident, happy, 8 years old and a girl, I took the inaugural step. Clueless about how never-ending the path it put me on would be. My friends suggested it. They were a pair of athletic tom-boys, compact and at least a year behind me in body development (this would be confirmed, four years and three diets later, when I went bra shopping with my mom: embarrassed, alone, first). 30
Maybe they knew they had less to fear, or maybe this wasn?t their only scale experiment. W hen they stepped on first? 63 pounds? and second? 65? it was still just that. An experiment. It wasn?t until the needle bounced to a stop at 83 that it evolved into a reaction. ?Oh. Well you?re probably just full, or something.? ?You don?t look that much bigger than us.? ?Try again tomorrow, it can?t be right.? But something had changed. I was more than? 18-to-20 pounds more than, to be exact? and by that same difference, I was less than. In the implicit beauty contest of life that we all somehow understood before graduating elementary school, I was a loser. A big fat loser, it seemed, as reflected in my friends?apologetic eyes. That changed quickly, but never in a way that felt final. Never in a way I could trust. After Googling how to lose weight on our family desktop, and then immediately also Googling how to erase browser history and wiping both searches to a place where my parents couldn?t find them, I started only eating half of every dinner. I threw out full lunches my mom packed for school without even peeking into the crumpled paper bag they came in. I became a runner. A magazine cover congratulated Jennifer Hudson for her ?Amazing!?40-pound weight loss; she did it by limiting herself to 1,200 calories a day. I learned to estimate calories for the types of food an 11 year-old in Connecticut could get her hands on? GoGurts, cafeteria cookies, grilled cheese? and did the same. I grew into an encyclopedia of diet facts: an average female should be 100 pounds at five feet and five pounds more every inch after that. If you think you?re hungry, try drinking a full glass of water before eating? often our bodies mistake thirst for hunger. A person notices their own weight loss after two weeks, but it takes six for family and friends to see it. By the time I was a high school senior, I had a wealth of knowledge from my own diet history, too. Carb-cutting is the most effective for quick weight loss, twice-a-day work-outs are a necessity before prom, starvation only works in doses. Rice cakes over bread, handfuls of peanuts over meals, coffee as a diuretic. I was nauseous, but I was thin! 31
My reaction to our experiment was victorious. My mom caught on? by the time I left high school, I stopped trying to hide my compulsiveness, because it was feeding my skinny success. W hen she realized I wasn?t just doing any one diet (a prom diet, a graduation diet, an 8 year old trying to lose a casual 20 diet), she quit engaging me in body talk and coined a new catchphrase: ?You have more important things to think about than your weight.? She repeated that for four years. Through the Freshman 15?s gain and loss, across study abroad binges and over my sorority sisters?similar struggles. And then heartbreak happened, and she stopped needing to. Grief is a pretty all-consuming emotion. My head throbbed with shock and sadness and new realizations about life and how little of it is ever in human control. For the first time since the scale-path began at age eight, I went weeks without thinking about my body. In those same weeks, I lost 12 pounds. And then I was finally skinny, in a way I could trust. The implicit beauty contest was over and people I knew and people I didn?t know assumed just by looking at me that I was doing really great. The scale was smiling at me, a champ, my friends?eyes were no longer apologetic, and we all lived happily ever after. Except it was the least happy I?d ever been. All three eight year-olds knew, when we set the scale experiment in motion. We were whispery and rushed, sneaking in and out of the 63-pounder?s mom?s bathroom. There was something inherently wrong about the scale before any of us took that step, and we felt it. A negative, unique, pungent energy? weird, for an inanimate object. For a while, I thought we were just nervous because we recognized that scale-steps were an exclusively mature practice. But it was more than that. In our simple state of mind, we sensed the fakeness of the implicit beauty contest that the scale represented for our 32
moms, our older cousins, our future selves. The lie that governs that contest ? if you are beautiful, you will be happy? didn?t fall for me until I confronted it head-on. Grief-struck and underweight at 21: ?I am asbeautiful asI?ll ever be. Why aren?tI happy?? Turns out, happiness doesn?t hinge on less thans or more thans. Happiness is just about being with.
DRAW ING BY FALLON W ILSON
20 0 9 PacSu n Gr ey Sk i n n y Jean s B y Su m m er Rae
This image still haunts me 10 years later. The most vibrant memory I have of hating myself and my body during the turbulent period of puberty involve a pair of grey PacSun skinny jeans. Low rise, tight as possible? this was the mid 2000s; high waisted mom jeans were not even a blip on the radar of denim. You wanted them below your belly button, tight, and pairing perfectly with the 4 layered tanks you wore on top (most of them also bought from PacSun). Middle school was ruled by my uniform, except for one day a month? Dress Down Day, the time in every young Catholic school girl?s life when she could break out the UGG boots and Abercrombie polos and pretend she went to the ?normal? public school down the road. 34
I remember the day I noticed all the girls were wearing these new skinny jeans tucked neatly into their sheepskin knee-high boots, while I had on straight leg bootcuts from Sears. I went home that day and begged my mom that the next time we went to the mall we could go to PacSun and try on this new kind of jeans, I just had to have a pair and couldn?t be the only one without them. Finally, some time later, we ended up there. I found the grey skinny jeans I had seen on my friends and took some into the dressing room. I remember the first pair didn?t even go up past my knees. The second, higher, but still no dice. I started to panic. The size numbers started to go up? 7, 9, 11, a far cry from the 0 and 3 I knew other girls were wearing. Looking back now, those are completely fine sizes, but to me in that moment I thought I was the fattest, ugliest person to ever walk into a suburban mall. That night I sat on my mom?s bed and cried harder than I ever had before. A pair of jeans had completely broken me. I couldn?t believe how horrific I was, that I couldn't fit into a pair of pants like the other girls could. I let a pair of fast fashion jeans single-handedly ruin me and my self-confidence for weeks. Sometimes, even now 10 years later, I need to remind myself that women?s clothing sizes are completely made up and don?t determine my worth as a human being. I would be lying if I said that I don't still cry sometimes in the dressing room when I have to go up a size to get the button to close over my stomach. My struggle with my body and clothes will probably be something I deal with forever, and that?s okay. If you?re wondering, I did end up finding a pair of skinny jeans to wear on dress down days. They were dark blue, and from the SO brand at Kohl?s. I remember being so happy they fit and looked good on me that I wore them home and did a fashion show for my dad, and I proudly cried out that ?I could wear skinny jeans like the other girls do.?
Fi v e Fo o t T h r ee I n ch es, Sh o e Si ze Si x an d a H al f -or Sp eak i n g Par t w ay T h r o u gh By Lydia Renfro W h en y ou ?r e el even , y ou th i n k y ou ?r e bet ter th an y ou r si st er becau se y ou k n ow h ow to m ake ad u l t s sm i l e w i t h y ou r p ol i te m an n er i sm s. You r ey es ar e h azel w h er e h er s ar e on ly bl u e. I t ?s p l easu r e, l ook i n g d ow n at y ou r sh i n t agged w i t h a f r esh ban d - ai d , tu r n i n g y ou r cal f ou t to l ook at i t f r om t h e si d e. You h ai r ach es f r om th e f oam cu r l er s y ou r m oth er p u l l s t i gh t agai n st y ou r h ead , bu t y ou ?ve n oti ced al r ead y h ow y ou r ey es l ook l i ke w h en y ou w ear gr een s an d p u r p l es. At tw en t y - t w o, y ou ?ve l ear n ed to d r i n k w h i sk y n eat an d y ou gi ve or al t o an at tr acti ve m u si ci an . You scof f at t h e em oti on s y ou f el t i n h i gh sch ool an d can ?t w ai t to sh ar e y ou r n ew ly p r i n t ed p r i n ci p l es on bl ogs. H ot of f th e p r ess ar e y ou r ver y ow n , ver y n ot- y ou r - f am i ly ?s, beliefs. You r sh oes ar e d el i cat e i n a w ay th ey cou l d n ?t be i f th ey w er e a si ze seven . You r i d e th e m et r o so ever y on e can ap p r eci ate t h e Fr en ch l ook y ou ex p er tly execu ted w i th y ou r Ru by W oo l i p st i ck . W h en y ou ?r e t w en t y - ei gh t, y ou th i n k y ou ?r e a f u l ly f or m ed ston e u n t i l an u n l ooked - f or m an p r esses y ou r br east w i th h i s t h u m b i n gen t l e ad m i r at i on ? an d y ou f i n d ou t y ou r f l esh i s d ou gh . H i s p r i n t s, d eep as caver n s, t w i st i n t o secr et p l aces l u sh f or p ossi bi l i t i es. You r m akeu p bag i s
n ar r ow i n g d ow n , r ep l aced by sk i n car e k i ts w i th n o oi l or al coh ol i n t h em so as n ot to i n f l am e th e r ed n ess on y ou r ch eek s. I t f i n al ly f eel s saf e to cal l y ou r sel f a w om an . You w i l l n ever be f i ve f oot ei gh t l i ke y ou r m ot h er , bu t i f y ou d on ?t ch oose w r on gly, y ou w on ?t be a p assi ve- aggr essi ve bi tch at f or t y - seven , tak i n g ou t bi t ter n ess on ch i l d r en w h o h ad n o say i n bei n g bor n . You r br a n eed s w i l l ch an ge an d y ou r tast e i n T V m i gh t r egr ess a l i t tl e. Bu t l i ke I sai d , i f y ou m ad e th e r i gh t ch oi ces th en y ou ?ll w an t t o h ave sp i ked sel t zer s w i th y ou r d au gh t er s an d n ot f eel em bar r assed to tr ad e m en str u ati on stor i es. A n d y ou r ey es w i l l st i l l l ook th e sam e th ou gh y ou ?r e col l ecti n g m or e l u m p s ar ou n d th e r est of y ou r bod y. W h at h ap p en s at ei gh t y - t w o? You cou l d d i e. O f can cer or h ear t f ai l u r e or n at u r al cau ses. You cou l d m ay be l i ve i n a san i ti zed bed an d r em em ber th e n u r se?s n am e becau se i t ?s on a p i n an d f or get y ou r h u sban d ?s gr ave. You cou l d si n g Jean et te M acD on al d son gs an d r er ead p ost car d s. I f y ou ?r e l u ck y, y ou ?ll h ave w h i t e h ai r . Bu t seei n g h ow y ou alw ay s m i ss con n ecti n g f l i gh ts, y ou r h ai r w i l l m ost l i kely t u r n gr ey. Ju st r em em ber , gi r l : i t d oesn ?t m at ter m u ch w h at y ou d o at ei gh t y - t w o i f y ou ?r e th e sam e p er son y ou w er e at el even . A l so, r eal i ze: y ou ?ve w ast ed y ou r l i f e i f y ou ?r e n oth i n g l i ke th e gi r l y ou w er e at el even . So go f or t h an d do.
L OANS TO NEAR STRANGERS By Jaclyn Griffith On a Thursday night in the spring, I carve out two hours to get ready for a first date. This is typical for the occasion. I need time to shower, shave, moisturize, do my makeup, dry my hair, curl my hair, f loss only the teeth that show, and chew a piece of gum but spit it out before I arrive. Femininity is oppressive, I groan to myself as I pluck a half-inch-long black hair out of my left nipple. Personally, I wouldn?t choose Wild Colonial, a try-hard dive bar on South Water Street in Providence, as a location for a first date. It is simple to say the bar?s harsh lighting and clientele of primarily middle-aged men don?t scream romantic, but more damning than the subpar atmosphere are my past experiences at Wild Colonial. To remember these prior visits is to watch former versions of myself stumble through my nascent romantic endeavors. These memories remain vivid a year later, and even two years later, because the scenes are raw, and my vulnerability is vast, as if I?m the protagonist in a heavy-handed indie coming of age film. The audience members cringe at my choices and circumstances, desperate but unable to pull their eyes away from the screen, as they hope I will escape unscathed. In one of these memories I am newly 22, disoriented by my recent move to the city, missing the confidence I had in college, and spilling my glass of Downeast Cider as I set it down across from my very first Tinder date. I jump to grab a thick stack of square, white napkins and plop them on the spill, wiping with nervous, shaking hands. All the while I am keeping up small talk, terrified of awkward silences, and regretting using so much hairspray, because I can tell my hair isn?t moving when I turn my head, and that must look strange, I figure. I am at Wild Colonial not because I genuinely want to meet this man, but because I believe that going on a Tinder date is the right thing for a normal person my age to do. I make a lot of choices I think I am supposed to make during this time, regardless of what I really want, which is precisely how I find myself pointing at the tattoos on the arms of this guy I was never attracted to, listening to him explain the significance of each image, and wishing my body would vanish into thin air. A year later I visit Wild Colonial a second time, for an after-work happy hour that I spend trying desperately to get the attention of a guy whose feelings for me are consistent only in their inconsistency. I go home with an emotional hangover and lie face down on my living room floor with my headphones in, while he heads to the airport, en route to a vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend. Despite a year passing and my meeting many more romantic prospects in the meantime, all of whom I?ve since lost feelings for, my memories do not feel distant. But this new guy seems promising, and different than the others, so when he suggests we meet up at Wild Colonial, I suppress my memories of melodrama and hope that this time, beneath the harsh lighting and between the groups of older men, I?ll find what I?ve been looking for. My hope is quickly justified when I learn that my date is sarcastic in the same way that I am. We laugh a lot, and he?s smart, and I agree with most of his very niche opinions about music and politics. He talks more than I do, so by default I 38
resign to asking him a lot of questions. He doesn?t try to correct the disparity. Still, I start to form a crush on him as we talk about Carly Rae Jepsen?s EMOTION album, about Cory Booker?s potential and f laws, about Simone de Beauvoir?s construction of gender. ?This is the same thing I wore to work today,? he tells me, about halfway through the date, when I say I like his shirt. I suppress an eye roll and f lash back to plucking out my nipple hair. ?We have a pretty casual dress code in the office.? My elbows are planted on the high-top table between us, one on each side of my second Downeast, and I am talking with my hands, as I always do. He leans his face closer to mine, smirks, and starts imitating my expressions, copying my demonstrative tones and restless movements. I can tell he likes me more than I like him, which in turn makes me like him more. When he talks with his hands like me, our fingers tap together. ?I swear I?m not making fun of you,? he says. ?I?m just trying to be cute and f lirty and I really want to hold your hand.? I smile and reach my hand across the table between us. He takes it and gently holds on. My hatred of Wild Colonial begins to soften easily, like turning down the smooth dial on the car radio down until the song fades to silence. This happens mostly because he holds my hand while we walk through the parking lot to my car. He keeps looking at me, trying to make eye contact, but I am too distracted to meet his gaze. A group of bikers is behind us, all of them smoking cigarettes and talking, and I can see the light above them f lickering out of the corner of my eye. Its yellow hue comes and goes unpredictably, stark and saturated like a paint swatch, an artificial imitation of a color found in nature. A couple that looks a lot like us walks past comfortably and the woman smiles at me like we share a secret. I follow her eyes with mine but don?t smile back, convinced there is a difference between us. Untrusting and unsettled, I hesitate like I do in grocery stores in southern states, where strangers greet me like they know me. The cars on South Water Street zip by on my right, the drivers rushing to make the light before it changes back to red, so desperate to get to their destinations that they are quick to push and give up grace but not quite willing to break the law. ?Hey,? he says to me, coyly, and stops walking. He puts his other hand on my waist and kisses me once. My brain finally dismisses its distractions when I am struck by how quickly and aggressively this man has stuck his tongue in my mouth. I drive him home, just around the corner, and put my car in park blocking the end of his driveway. Within a minute he kisses me again, and his tongue is down my throat again, and he is leaning over the console, his body above mine, his hand gripping my thigh and pulling me closer to him. My glasses get pressed against my face and fogged by his breath. He struggles to dodge my scarf and seatbelt as he tries to kiss my neck. My nose ring nearly falls out. I pull back. Immediately he asks, ?Am I encroaching on your personal space? I?m sorry.? ?No, it?s okay,? I say, unsure if I mean it. ?You?re just very eager.? In a split second, I need to decide if I?m enjoying this, and I?m torn. This is what you?re always craving, I think to myself, remembering many midnights I?ve 39
spent staring up at my ceiling, swallowing melatonin and wishing it were Xanax, swiping through dating apps and wishing a man would prove he wanted me like this one is now. I tell myself I should be grateful for the attention. It?s better than nothing, I think. Don?t be such a hypocrite. I do know for sure that he kisses with far too much tongue and I have to figure out a polite way to tell him this. I wonder what we must look like from the outside, and I think of the couples on TLC who kiss for the first time at their weddings, months of anticipation and sexual tension driving them toward each other?s faces with open mouths, starved bodies. ?You can go a little easier.? He listens, so I park my car in a proper spot across the street and continue kissing him until he asks if I want to come inside. ?I?m considering it,? I say, contemplating my options out loud. ?But what are your expectations if I do?? ?No, no, no? none! Never. I would never have any expectations. My expectations are so low? I mean, not low like bad, but low like nonexistent. I think it?s always wrong to have any sort of expectations because you never know if? ? He trails off. I?ve asked him to recognize his ethics and express them earnestly, and he is trying to do so while also trying to win me over. I love watching him negotiate this. He, like other feminist men I?ve dated, knows that our culture has shifted since the Me Too movement, and he is trying to adapt appropriately. I let him ramble for a minute before I cut him off. I feel powerful, and I agree to come inside. His roommates sit talking at their kitchen table, and I say a brief and awkward hello to them, but they aren?t friendly to me. They immediately disperse into their respective bedrooms and I feel like an inconvenience. This makes me anxious. I wonder how often they do this? how often he does this. I glance around his bedroom at the dirty clothes scattered on the f loor, at the cluttered nightstand with a copy of Infinite Jest on it. I pick up a vinyl from a stack of records in a dusty milk crate at the foot of his bed. As I skim the liner notes of Carly Rae Jepsen?s EMOTION album, he apologizes for the mess and tosses clothes from his bed into a hamper. ?She really wrote the definition of ?emotion?right there on the cover,? I say, running my fingertips along the album art. ?I love that so much.? I keep my eyes locked securely on the album, surveying it, because focusing on one thing while he flits around me makes me feel in control. I glance at my hands and realize that they?re shaking. I?m nervous. I want to appear calm but my body is betraying me. I can?t feel the movement, can only see it from the outside, and I hope he doesn?t notice. He doesn?t. He takes the record from me and places it indiscriminately on his dresser. I take a deep breath. He pulls me from the edge of his bed closer to where he's sitting, gentle but swift, and I let myself fall into him, because I want to, because it feels good. I take off my glasses and place them carefully on his nightstand. I can see nothing beyond his face. ?Now I can dissociate from this entire thing,? I joke, based on experience. We 40
both laugh. As the night progresses, he doesn?t hesitate to move things forward, and I don?t hesitate to slow him down, move his hands to a different place, or tell him he?s skipping a step. He checks in with me each time before initiating anything. ?We have time,? I tell him eventually, when he asks if I?m okay. ?You don?t have to rush. I?m already here, aren?t I?? I am still talking with my hands, this time f lipping them tersely, gesturing toward my naked body lying in his bed on our first date. ?I?m sorry.? The words tumble out of his mouth, knee jerk. He says, ?I guess I?m used to doing more than this.? My anxiety arrives in the bedroom from the kitchen; I remember how cold his roommates were, how they left the room on cue, how it all seemed routine. A phrase enters my head, the same one I screamed at myself after my last visit to Wild Colonial: you?re one of many. I clench my teeth. ?You mean you just really, really like me, right?? I say, providing one of my many suggestions from the night. He says yes. Later, I lie next to him for a little while and run my fingertips along his chest, feigning companionship, perhaps practicing for a future lover. I am silent, uncharacteristically unable to voice what I?m thinking, and it dawns on me that I barely know the man I?m lying in bed with. I kiss him just to fill the silence. After he gets out of bed, I reach my hand out to grab my glasses. I let the details of his bedroom come back into focus, beginning with an open box of condoms on his nightstand. We didn?t have sex. ?Well, it was nice meeting you,? he says to me, with a single lighthearted laugh, as I?m putting my bra back on. ?Don?t say that,? I snap, noting that I like his sense of humor but not in this moment. ?You?re going to make me feel guilty.? ?Why would you feel guilty?? ?Like I did too much too soon,? I say, uncovering something I didn?t know I was worried about. His eyebrows come together in confusion. ?You definitely didn?t do too much.? A chill sneaks through the glass of his front door as I reach for my car keys in the hall, slowly guiding a long keychain from my college bookstore out of my tiny going-out bag. He puts his hands on my hips as he asks when he can see me again. ?You said you?re free on Wednesday, right?? ?Thursday?s better, actually,? I tell him. ?I don?t teach on Fridays.? ?I?m going to text you? probably tomorrow. Is that too soon? Will I seem too desperate if I text you tomorrow?? I like that he?s being clear, being sweet. He kisses me well, hugs me better. Providence is desolate after midnight, so I fill up both sides of the narrow road between the rich, old houses on Benefit Street as I drive home. The neighborhood is picturesque even after dark. Colonial style lamp posts punctuate tree-lined streets like a Hollywood movie set, providing just enough light to remind me that I am passing through a place I can?t afford to live. The houses?primary colors, Doric columns, and white front porches engulf me in the promise of domesticity. 41
Like always, I curse the city for being too small, wishing my drive home were longer? I need time to think, to make sense of my cacophony of thoughts, and to listen to EMOTION, which sits comfortably in my CD drive like it?s paid rent to be there. On my way to Wild Colonial I was hopeful, so track two had sounded perfect to me, and I sang along to it as if I held the power to curate the soundtrack to my own life. I exhale for what feels like the first time all night, releasing the tension in my shoulders but feeling it grow in my chest. That could?ve been better, I think first. If I knew him better. I try to process my uneasiness: I know I?m not feeling sad, or regretful, or violated in any way. I know I did exactly what I wanted to do, I know I listened to my body, I know I communicated well. I know he responded to my requests without questioning me. Yet I leave this man?s house feeling deeply disappointed upon realizing that none of my sexual experiences are happening the way I always imagined them happening. Even though I am now making the choices I intuitively want to make, I am making them in conditions that are not ideal? namely, outside of a relationship, and almost always lacking anything resembling intimacy. I park in the street as close to my front door as possible, risking a parking ticket, and stay awake until 4, tossing and turning in my empty apartment alone. A few days later, I meet up with my sister, Melanie, for lunch at a pokĂŠ restaurant on the east side of the city. We get lunch because I am desperate to talk through the details of this date. We get lunch because this is what we do. She chooses a table by the window, where the direct sunlight invites us to enjoy the warmth while protected from the late-March cold for a little while. As we talk, I remember that we sat at the exact same table on New Year's Day, the last time we went in search of a place to talk about an experience with a different guy that left me feeling equally conflicted. I start to tell Melanie about the date, about our drinks going well, about his kissing with too much tongue, about my leaving with agita. I go on to explain to her that in order to have the sexual experiences that I genuinely want to have for my own enjoyment, my own growth, my own stories, while still looking for someone who is worth being in a committed relationship with, I have been required to lend my body to near strangers who often don?t know what to do with it. ?Sex isn?t like the movies, you know,? Melanie counters, candid and kind at the same time? her specialty. ?It?s normal for it to be awkward and uncomfortable sometimes.? ?I know that,? I say, and I mean it. ?I definitely like him, and I don?t regret anything I chose to do. But I guess when I was younger I always thought I?d only make these choices within the safety of some wonderful relationship with someone I loved, and that?s not happening for me.? Melanie replies with yet another stinging memory of my former self. ?But when you were younger, you also pictured yourself growing up to be a Disney Channel star.? I drop my head down to the table, rest it on my forearm next to an aĂ§ai bowl. ?But you know that almost nothing in life happens the way you imagine it will. Why would sex be any different?? 42
Melanie talks like I do? she is all dramatic narratives and pithy commentary and ostentatious vocabulary. She offers me a story from when she was my age? about hooking up with a firefighter, being horrified by it, then being glad she did it? and by the end, tears glide out the sides of my eyes as I try to suppress my loud laughter in the small restaurant. I never imagined I?d spend my twenties laughing over pokĂŠ in Providence with my older sister, but I feel no need to mourn my failed dream of becoming a Disney Channel star. My next few days are consumed by my analyzing this one date. As he texts me to chat and to confirm our plans for Thursday, I remind myself that my disappointment isn?t about him in particular, but about the general dissatisfaction that comes with being an adult woman living a real life with real nuances. This is not a reason to settle for subpar relationships? or even subpar dive bars, I?d argue? but it is a reason to let go of the disappointment deriving not from a particular negative experience, but from the lack of an idealized experience. Like I?ve done in all other areas of my life, when deciding how to use my body, all I can do is continue to make the choices that make me as happy as possible given my real life in the moment. But my body does not exist within a vacuum, so the choices I make surrounding it do not automatically feel empowering just because I chose them myself. I am still susceptible to guilt, and shame, and social standards, and disappointment, and expectations inf luenced by pop culture. Being liberated enough to have choices does not mean the given options will fulfill me; making feminist choices does not guarantee that I won?t leave his house with a lump in my throat. Living in a body full of emotion is inherently difficult. I think back to Carly Rae Jepsen, to Cory Booker, to Simone de Beauvoir, and I feel more confident in my feelings for this man, more sure that this has the potential to be something good, more willing to let myself enjoy a new crush and see where it leads. It is the first time in months that I?ve felt this optimistic about someone. On Wednesday, he cancels our second date without an explanation.
PHOTO BY NICO BERNARDI 43
BY ALYSSA DILL
I w an t ed t o w r i t e abou t m y bod y i n a p osi ti ve l i gh t. A bou t h ow af t er y ear s of h ati n g i t an d cou n ti n g cal or i es an d i n t er n al i zi n g th at m y bod y i sn ?t good or th i n en ou gh (bu t , y ou k n ow, t h i ck i n al l th e r i gh t p l aces), I f i n al ly l ear n ed h ow t o l ook i n t h e m i r r or n aked an d say th at I l ove ever y i n ch of m e or som e bu l l sh i t p eop l e tel l y ou y ou sh ou l d f eel . Bu t I d on ?t f eel th at w ay at al l . A f ter y ear s of th i n f r i en d s w h o f el t f at (w h o I can ?t even bl am e, becau se w e?r e al l i n th i s sh i t t oget h er ), I st i l l f eel gr oss i n a bath i n g su i t . I sti l l f eel l i ke T h e Fat Fr i en d . I st i l l f eel com p l etely aw f u l an d u n d esi r abl e w h en I ?m n aked , l i ke m y bod y i s W r on g. I k n ow t h at bod i es ar e ju st vessel s an d th at Ever y Bod y I s Beau t i f u l an d th at as l on g as I f eel good , f u ck th e n u m ber on t h e scal e. Bu t n o am ou n t of r ep eat i n g th ose th i n gs to m y sel f or r ead i n g Jam eel a Jam i l ?s p osts on @i _ w ei gh or l i sten i n g t o L i zzo si n g abou t l ov i n g y ou r sel f u n con d i t i on al ly can er ase y ear s of l ear n i n g to h ate m y bod y. I w i sh t h er e w as a r esol u ti on to th i s. N on e of u s d eser ve t o f eel t h i s w ay. M y bod y d oesn ?t d eser ve th e m ean th i n gs I say t o i t. Som e d ay s ar e h ar d . T h er e ar e cou n tl ess d ay s w h er e I f eel ash am ed of h ow I l ook , of m y cel l u l i te, of th e w ay m y bel ly h an gs over m y jean s. Bu t th er e ar e good d ay s, too. D ay s w h en I f eel l u ck y to be i n a bod y l i ke m y ow n , w h en I f eel str on g, an d beau ti f u l , an d ok ay. A n d even i f th er e i s n o m agi cal en d t o f eel i n g l i ke l i f e w ou l d be better i f I h ad bi gger boobs or t on ed ar m s or i f I d i d n ?t h ave a d ou bl e ch i n at cer tai n an gl es, I k n ow t h at I ?m good en ou gh i n m y ow n w ay. W e ar e al l str u ggl i n g, bu t w e ar e al l i n th i s togeth er , an d w e ar e al l En ou gh . BY ALYSSA DILL 45
To M y Left Fal l opian Tu be By Nicol e H en evel d Im pl an tin g season cam e an d th e Littl e On e decided you r s was th e best l ocation . I can ?t bl am e it. No on e u n der stan ds better th an m e h ow h ostil e a wom b can be. W h y n ot tr y som epl ace n ew? It?s cozy. No r en t du e ever y m on th . Ju st th e side of a wel l -tr avel ed h igh way? bu t th ey cal l ed it, ?ou t of pl ace.? A r apid h ear tbeat in a tu n n el . No ch an ce of su r vival . Su icide to k eep? n ever an option ? bu t you ? You wil l be m issed. M y Dear Passageway. I?l l h ave you k n ow con ception in you h as com pl icated m y r el ation sh ip to eggs. Over -easy,th e yol k sl ides effor tl essl y in to m y h yster ical u ter u s. Sh e?s l au gh in g at you , you k n ow? I?ve tol d h er to be qu iet. If sh e doesn ?t stop l au gh in g, th ey?l l tak e h er away,too. W ou l d you l ik e som e com pan y?
O f f i ce W o r k : O p en of f i ce p l an . N o d oor s. N o l ock s. Pr egn an cy. ?D o w e h ave a l actati on r oom ?? H R. ?W e ar e w or k i n g on i t.? Pr egn an t. Bi r t h . 6 w eek s, M at er n i t y L eave. L actati on Room ? N o Room . U se th e bath r oom . I t ?s agai n st th e l aw ?! L actati on Room ! N o r oom ! M or e p r egn an t w om en . T h e l aw r equ i r es i t, A l actat i on r oom an d , N ot a bath r oom . N o Room !! Pr egn an t w om en an d m oth er s. L actat i on Room !!!! W e f ou n d a r oom ! Rem od el ed a bath r oom . 6 m on th s. N ew l actati on r oom . Basi c r oom . H R p r i n t s m ar keti n g. W e h ave a l actati on r oom . I pum p. W e pum p. I n a l actati on r oom . BY T H ERESA FREY 47
119. By Kendall Stark ?They?say a healthy weight for a woman of my height is 117-143 lbs. Three pounds less and I?d be considered underweight. If I?d reached that point, I probably still wouldn?t have been satisfied. People kept making remarks on how good my legs looked, but never about how my cheeks were sunken in and how I refused to eat bread. If I did, I?d make sure it only happened once a day. If it happened more than once, I?d put in an extra mile on the elliptical. As soon as the fleeting validation of these compliments faded, I?d go right back into the cycle of self-loathing, like clockwork. This was freshman year of college ? you know, that time they say you?re supposed to gain 15 pounds, but it?s completely normal, don?t worry. I was committed to making sure this would never be me. So I did the opposite. I still ate ? I ate a ton, in fact. That?s the thing about eating disorders ? people tend to see them in black and white. Either you starve yourself or you binge eat, there?s no in between. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder because I never went to a doctor. But I didn?t need a doctor to know that my habits aligned pretty closely with an ED known as Orthorexia.
Here?s an excerpt from NEDA?s website: Orthorexia means an obsession with proper or ?healthful?eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn?t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ?healthy eating?that they actually damage their own well-being. Symptoms include: compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels, cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products), an inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ?healthy?or ?pure,?spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events, showing high levels of distress when ?safe?or ?healthy?foods aren?t available, obsessive following of food and ?healthy lifestyle?blogs on Twitter and Instagram, body image concerns. I just about checked all of the boxes. My obsession with healthy eating was provoked after browsing a few ?fitspo?(I feel strongly that we need to retire this term) Instagram accounts back at the beginning of college. Some of these accounts inspire people to lose weight in a healthy way. Others, I am convinced, are people with eating disorders who attempt to normalize their unhealthy habits and garner attention. I?m not exactly sure who or what put the idea in my brain that all carbs were bad (this is such an antiquated belief), but that notion stuck with me like a parasite that dominated my entire way of eating. Carbs were okay once a day ? but only good carbs, you know, like oatmeal or brown rice. 49
Regardless of what I ate on any given day, I?d go on the elliptical, or run, for 30 to 40 minutes. My goal was usually to burn about 400 calories. Again, I pulled this number from an Instagram account of a fitness guru. Not a nutritional expert or a doctor ? a woman about my age, on an app. It became cyclical, going to the gym. It no longer felt like a stress relief, but a punishment. My entire life was based around this obligation that I needed to go to the gym and do this ? if I didn?t, I would gain weight. My first two years of college were largely overshadowed by this obsession, this eating disorder that I?d never even been diagnosed with. It can be elusive ? especially if you?re technically eating three meals a day. It takes a lot to silence the voice in your head that?s doing everything to convince you that eating a lobster roll or having an ice cream cone will make you fat, and you?ll need to cycle for 90 minutes after in order to burn off the calories, but I eventually did. And it happened one ice cream at a time. As often as the term ?self-love?is thrown around these days, it?s critical we embrace the mental health aspect that goes hand-in-hand with it. W hen I was in the midst of my ED, I was only seeking validation from others. I never really looked inward, because I was convinced that no one would care about who I was unless I looked a certain way. Today, I?m about 20 pounds heavier, and a hell of a lot happier. I go on runs when I feel like it and do yoga occasionally because it makes me feel good. I?m no longer afraid to speak my mind and am proud of the person I?ve become ? because I know who I am isn?t the number 119. 50
BY KRISTINE ALACH
By Claudia Sousa 52
An Open Letter to My Younger Sel f on Her Body By M.E. Griffith Dear Melanie, Let me begin with a hard truth: the way you look today, as a 7th grader in the year 2000, is generally how you?re going to look for, at best, the next 20 years. Beyond that, I can?t say. If past trends are any indication, you will continue to look generally the same beyond the year 2019, but the gradual shifts in your appearance that are traceable to this point seem likely to continue. Aging thus far has come with some new lines and creases, but this was expected. Slightly less expected: somehow you will feel both puffier and more deflated at the same time. The lines on your face from creases on your pillow case will take a lot longer to go away. I call the general consistency in our appearance a hard truth because I know that, right now, part of what you?re living for is the assumption that once you ?grow up?you will look drastically different, the way women almost always do in movies and on TV. It might feel today like a truth unspeakably cruel that you will basically look the way you look today forever, but it?s not. You will have the same freckles, the same chin (or lack thereof), the same nose (but it?s your Nanny?s, so you?ll try to like it), the same thick eyebrows and soft mustache. You will not get much bigger tits, but they will grow to be more proportional so you won?t feel like you?re all nipple forever. Your legs are going to stay looking exactly like your father?s. Your ass is going to stay extremely flat, and cruelly for you, trends in ass-size are going to explode in a way that is not in your favor but is probably better for the vast majority of other women. Oddly, your hair is going to change drastically. W hat is currently an untameable mop of frizz and ill defined curls will become exactly what you want it to be now: straight, fine, a little limp, but generally not your biggest complaint. You?ll get to have the pixie cut that you think would solve all your problems if only you could pull it off today. You?ll love it, but it won?t solve all your problems. 53
Good news about eyebrows! I promise I am not fucking with you when I say that thick eyebrows are going to become extremely on trend. All of your peers who widdle their brows down to sad, straining, sideways parentheses are going to be very angry with themselves starting in about 2014. W omen will seek out products to help them grow thicker brows, they will spend obscene amounts of money on brow pencils, and you will be able to do a lot less to your naturally thick eyebrows for at least 5 years (and counting)! Mustaches on women are still generally frowned upon, but you will personally give far fewer shits about upkeep. This is probably due partially to confidence that comes from being older and married, but you will also be busy and, at least for a lot of 2019, consistently but functionally depressed. This will force you to care less about a lot of things; your mustache is one of the better things you will care less about. For most of your life, in each successive year, you?re going to feel like you?re one of the last people who still can?t give a fuck about exercising consistently. W hen your wedding is approaching, you will run several times a week for probably 7 months (because the patriarchy will be fucking alive and well). But, after you?re married, you?re not going to keep up with it. Your body, like I said, is going to look generally the same. You?re never going to feel thrilled about it, but people are going to start talking a lot more about how much we should accept our bodies as they are. This will be helpful to you even though it isn?t really for women with bodies like yours. You will develop, as you enter your late 20s, a fear of getting physically hurt that seems to coincide with a forceful reckoning with mortality and death. So, enjoy that freewheeling I-can-heal-from-any-injury feeling that you have now for as long as you can. W hen you are in graduate school studying to be a writer, you will tell the story of getting dumped in 4th grade for ?looking like a werewolf?because of your hairy arms to endear people to you. You will recount the story of being told, in gym class, when you lay down to do crunches that ?Your titties go in!?to make you and others laugh over drinks. A platonic male friend will tell you that your ass feels like an elbow, and you?ll repeat that for a laugh, too, because it?s true. And this is 54
how you will learn to accept your body. Genuine laughter at your own expense? not self-deprecation for self defense?s sake? helps, and this won?t change. It might seem hard to believe, and for a long time this won?t be what you think you want, but you?re going to get married to a gem of a man who tells you, on the first night that you?re in bed together, that you have beautiful skin. And even though you will reply, ?W haddaya want to make a suit out of it??he will still fall in love with you, and you with him. He is going to help you love your body in a way that you never thought you could. He?s going to take care of you when you?re sick and when you?re hurt, he?s going to sit on the edge of the bathtub and talk to you while you poop, and he?s going to admit to doing this in his wedding vows in front of all your closest friends and family. He?s going to go down on you every time you have sex, because he?s a feminist, and he cares about your body?s pleasure as much as he cares about his own. You are going to want to kill him sometimes over very stupid things (like how loudly he chews his cereal), but he?s instrumental to your positive relationship with your body. You are both going to fart audibly in front of one another, so you won?t always have crippling gas pains from holding it in for years like in other relationships. He?s the one for you. It?s not ideal that your husband?s validation means so much. It?s not uncomplicated that a man helps you appreciate your body, but if it had to be a man, he?s a good choice. You?re going to work hard to change systems as they currently exist so that women who come after you don?t have to find a partner to help them with this very real work. I?ll write again if and when I get pregnant and let you know how that whole thing goes. Hang in there, Melanie, 30
BY NAOM I PAJARILLO 56
if you have ever worn shoes that gnaw your heels grew hips when you were eleven like it was a bad thing and tried to hide them if you have chafed your thighs red skipped a meal and reveled wearily in the flatness insisted something does not fit out of self-protection covered your arms in shame and burned your own skin to be smoother if you have ever washed your hands until they cracked and stung and bled and healed still fight that urge now created new nervous habits and hope no one can see years later gone to the doctor afraid of what your body was capable of growing again laid in bed paralyzed used sleep as anesthetic used someone else?s bed as anesthetic dreamed of being far away and could not recognize your own fears if you have ever snuck into the first boy?s room and undressed felt your heart racing clumsily if you have imagined yourself next to someone else imagined yourself alone kissed someone wrong and felt your stomach seize cringed at eyes and words on the street and could only see yourself through someone else?s eyes felt uninvited hands and welcomed them groping for a sense of your beginning and end if you have ever stayed with someone you could not reach for who made you feel like your body was a condemned building who laughed when you said it hurt if you pledged allegiance to them anyway threw up in the shower wondering and terrified cried on the floor in a friend?s arms swallowed plan b on the sidewalk and prayed for the blood to come if you have ever held hands with someone in silence traced another?s spine with your lips sweat through your t-shirt bled on the sheets and feared the repercussions bled on the comforter and been proud held someone in the bath for hours met their parents without underwear on by accident if you buried your head in books to keep your mind from darkening closed off when it finally did anyways took another?s warmth for granted and ripped out your own roots if you have ever been told you are unworthy and cracked yourself open again and again to prove the opposite knew you ought to cry but could not find it in your chest stayed quiet instead pretended to feel nothing and hoped that would sting someone else apologized with your body over and over again until you were emptied if you have given more of yourself than you are comfortable with and are still brought to your knees at the thought of it if you have ever held a friend?s hand through a panic attack sat on yours through your own felt like you could not reach someone close to you moved 57
cities to survive felt alive again intermittently and found a home if you have forgotten what you promised to yourself two years ago last week yesterday and still tucked your hurt under your rib cage as fuel a reminder of your capacity to feel and chose to be tender anyways if you have been confused by the makeup on your own face if you have danced in the kitchen with your sister danced in the dark with other girls danced in the street by yourself felt it in your feet shaken your hips felt the honest jiggle shaken your arms and stretched them above your head in triumph and felt the fatigue set in your bones like love if you have ever cut your hair above your ears and felt visible found the perfect jeans that reveal more than ever arched your back in pleasure arched your back in ache felt like you could not carry any of it yourself and the next day gave yourself a break if you have stared at your softness in the mirror enjoying it fondly touched your leg hair like grass laughed until you could breathe deeply cried at the voice of a friend and closed your eyes in wonder for making it through if you have ever opened yourself up to the last who made you want to be slower let them in till they knew what your blood felt like admired your words for what they could do together liked the feeling of their eyes and hands if you watched them pray till it stirred you felt recognizable felt full surprised yourself with your honesty and liked it if you could not stop feeling at your own expense talked about a future that might not exist thought you were safe easily gave and held and understood if you took fewer protective measures than you should and ought to have learned better by now tangled yourselves together closely anyways and then slowly ripped yourselves apart if you were told you were enough and too much at the same time told you were too real too tangible and lost sight of what that means to you if you tried to end the leak with your heart like a stopper anyways burned the wound shut until it could heal itself tried to remember the good and woke up feeling like you both had abandoned your body if you have ever rolled your neck, spine, ankles, toes to see if you still controlled them and realized that you do said goodbye with your bodies resisted the conditions that made you want to be less soft stopped exhaling deeply for a week because it reminded you of hurt picked open the wound for hours could not stop talking or seeking felt embarrassed by the want and 58
known it is not about waiting if you have ever unraveled completely steadied yourself with your arms around a friend?s waist struggled to stay quiet and felt accomplished for paying attention to yourself if you have attempted to put it into words felt self-indulgent as you try and done it anyways if you have ever breathed your way through even when the air and your lungs did not feel like yours if you have ever collapsed with joy and exhaustion and gratitude and counted the people you love and felt your own clumsy grace if you have ever made yourself a stone made yourself a canvas made yourself a spectacle made yourself a mirror made yourself invisible made yourself smaller and made yourself the space, remember: you are nerves and muscle and blood, heart and healing and here.
BY TORI SAIA ***
The second issue of Witches is dedicated to every Witch who started working on a piece for the issue then stopped, or changed her topic after watching the news, or cried while creating, or got anxious while reading, or worried what her mother would think if she saw her piece, or swore she?d never be able finish but was brave enough to create her way through her body just in time.
RESOURCES because l i v i ng i n a body f ul l of emoti on i s i nh erentl y di f f i cul t. Z en car e T h er ap i st Sear ch : an easy - t o- u se t ool t o m at ch w i t h a th er ap i st i n N YC, N J, CT , RI , Boston , Ch i cago, or Seat t l e h ttp s:// w w w.zen car e.co/ N at i o n al Eat i n g D i so r d er A sso ci at i o n (N ED A ): i n f or m at i on , su p p or t , an d op p or t u n i ti es f or i n volvem en t r el at ed to eati n g d i sor d er s h ttp s:// w w w.n at i on al eat i n gd i sor d er s.or g/ Eat i n g D i so r d er H o p e: i n f or m at i on on ED r esear ch , d i f f er en t ty p es of tr eat m en t, su p p or t gr ou p s, an d r ecover y t i p s h ttp s:// w w w.eat i n gd i sor d er h op e.com / N at i o n al A l l i an ce o n M en t al I l l n ess (N A M I ): i n f or m at i on , su p p or t , an d op p or t u n i ti es f or i n volvem en t r el at ed to m en tal h eal t h h ttp s:// w w w.n am i .or g/ D ay O n e RI : su p p or t & ad vocacy f or t h ose af f ect ed by sex u al abu se an d v i ol en ce i n Rh od e I sl an d h ttp s:// w w w.d ay on er i .or g/ get- h el p
Pl an n ed Par en t h o o d : f acts abou t abor ti on an d y ou r r ep r od u ct i ve r i gh t s h ttp s:// w w w.p l an n ed p ar en th ood .or g/ l ear n / abor ti on
RA I N N : an ex t en si ve l i st of r esou r ces f or th ose af f ect ed by sex u al assau l t h t t p s:// w w w.r ai n n .or g/ n ati on al - r esou r ces- sex u al - assau l t- su r v i vor s- an d - th ei r - l oved - on es
Sp eci al t h an k s t o Tor i T h om son , m y i n cr ed i bly w i se an d k n ow l ed geabl e m en t al h eal t h ad vocate, f or begi n n i n g t h i s l i st.
CONTRI BUTORS SENDI NG GRA TI TUDE & PRA I SE TO A LL OF THESE WI TCHES
For more i nf ormati on, to contri bute to a f uture i ssue of Wi tch es, or to reach out to a parti cul ar Wi tch , contact:
Founder & Edi tor j acl yn.gri f f i th 7@gmai l .com w w w .j acsrev i ew .com 61
M u r al by M ar i a T i n a Bed d i a, Ph oto by A ly ssa D i l l
THE END. OR NOT. WI TCHES M A GA Z I NE I SSUE #2: BODI ES JULY 2019
Witches Mag | Issue #2: Bodies | July 2019. You can order a print copy of Issue #2 here: https://www.peecho.com/print/en/645649
Published on Jul 2, 2019
Witches Mag | Issue #2: Bodies | July 2019. You can order a print copy of Issue #2 here: https://www.peecho.com/print/en/645649