Warning: This article contains serious issues and potentially triggering topics. If topics about sex, child-bearing, rape, violence, and other similar circumstances make you uncomfortable, anxious, stressed, or otherwise, please, do not read this article. If you have been a victim of rape, violence, etc., I urge you to please talk to someone.
I am a girl. I have organs in my body designed to carry another life into the world and somehow I am burdened by it. Some say my greatest gift in this world is to bring life into being and I think, "I'm more than that, right?" I think children are cute, but their screams ring in my ears and I can't stand it. I find that I am capable of loving another human, but long bursts of being with another human is draining. Yet, over and over I hear, "you'll understand when you're a mother." I am a girl, but also a baby-making machine.
I am a girl. I receive an education that only became available to American women in the last two centuries. There are still women in the globe who consider themselves lucky to be taught to read and write, but know nothing else. Girls, like Malala Yousafzai, are shot on their way to school; others cannot afford schooling as public education is not available in some places. The girls whose educations are undermined often end up as child brides.They remain in poverty and thus their daughters will, too. I am a girl, and I am considered lucky.
I am a girl. I am given gifts of mace, whistles, and knives to protect me from the people who wish to do harm. My brother receives guns, knives, and bows not for his protection but for sport. I am taught to never walk alone, especially at night. He thinks nothing of a mid-day gunfight. I am trained to be afraid. He is trained to be care-free. If that role was reversed, I would be the only one. The only one willing to walk alone, to wear revealing clothes, or to meet a stranger. I am taught to be wary of others and travel with friends. I am a girl, but I am a target.
I am a girl. My hair must be natural, curly, straight, and done all the time. My skin must be unmarred, but also natural. I need to have a body like the photo-shopped women in magazines. I am supposed to love my body, but hate everything about it at the same time. I don't have a thigh gap, and I guess that's a deal breaker. I don't know how to twerk, thus, I can't dance. I am not thin, nor do I have an hourglass for a body. My hair is unkempt, my teeth are yellowed, and that makes me ugly. I am a girl, and I have to be perfect.
I am a girl. For eons, I have been held down by strict dress laws and lack of opportunities. My skin must be covered to go out in public, even my ankles cannot show. The eyes are gateways to the soul, but I put contacts in to make them gold. Is this why I am blind? Blind to the world where people call for equality but the generations before us call for tradition. I am a girl, and I call for change.
I am a girl. I wear my hair as I want: braided, down, up, natural, straightened, or curled. My skin is riddled with scars and deep pores, but I wear make-up when I want to look different. My body is my own to love, thighs and all. I still don't know how to twerk, but I'll leave that to the professionals. I know how to do the "Cha-Cha Slide" and that's good enough for me. I brush my teeth and brush my hair, but what makes me beautiful is being me. I am a girl, and I am not a doll.
I am a girl. I watch out for my friends and they watch out for me. If someone does harm one of us, we swarm like bees to a hive. We dance together and without a care for the boys who question our packs. It's not anyone's fault. I still don't like to walk on my own, but I feel better with my dog or companion along. I keep my mace, whistle, and knife with me not because I am afraid but because I know better. My brother is still braver than I but my resolve to not be a statistic is higher than his. I am a girl, but I am not a target.
I am a girl. Like Malala Yousafzai, I want everyone to have the same opportunities I do. I want to see more women in the sciences and sports than in beauty school or waitress jobs. I want girls to have the chance to get their families out of poverty. I want wages to be equal and that goes for insurance, too. It's the twenty-first century and girls are still being taken out of class for bra straps. Newsflash, we don't even have to wear bras if we don't want to. I am a girl and I should not be considered "lucky."
I am a girl. My body has organs that men do not have, at least not in the same way I do. I don't have to have a child if I don't want to, in fact there are plenty of children out there that need a parent. My body is mine and mine to control, and, if I do someday I want a child, I want to adopt/foster. Then, I will understand. I am a girl, but I am not a baby-making machine.
Women everywhere face the same problems every day in different ways. Some face it from laws and rules, while others take it as a situation of circumstance. I like to think that globally, we are the closest we have been to gender equality. Maybe, I'm wrong, but someday, we'll have true gender equality. Women and men will wear what they want and when they want. Whether it's burkas, tank top and shorts, or traditional clothing, remember that everyone is beautiful in their own way. I am a girl. and I am a feminist.