International Women’s Day

Our curves are our blessing…or our curse. Too many, and we are told we are lazy and undisciplined. Too few, and we are compared to a stick or a rail. These bodies we inhabit are never what we want them to be. Too tall and we are giants. Too short and we are elves. Curly hair is too kinky or frizzy. Straight has no body and is limp. Our pale skin is so white we spray color on it to try to make it darker. Our dark skin is so black we buy special skin creams to make it lighter. We have too many freckles, or not enough.

We have heard these things our whole lives. From the time we were little girls, we learned the too-much-or-too-little lies. We have believed them, internalized them, so much so that we say them to ourselves now. They are a part of us. And the shame that comes with them is our daily bread. We eat it even though it is stale and hard. We digest every bite as if we are starving; as if there is no other food available to us.  

As babies, we arrived in a pink box with a huge sparkly pink bow on top. We were a gift to our parents. Sugar and spice and everything nice. Hopefully, most of us were celebrated. We were brought home in lace dresses with bows stuck to our heads with a spot of honey. No one wanted their baby to be mistaken as anything other than a girl. Some of us were bald so every item we wore had to be pink, so there would be no doubt. We were beautiful tiny infant gifts of femininity. The exquisite box opened up and presented us to the world.

But over time, as we grew, the box started to get smaller. Not as easy to fit into any longer because those too-much-too-little lies take up a great deal of room. They bring the bread of shame with them to fill the empty space. So, the harder we tried to fit into the box, the less we were able to do so. All the sparkles started to fall off. The lace became tattered the more we tried to fit it into the allotted area.

However, there were some women who still fit perfectly. They had no issue with the space, so it appeared. They radiated and seemed to belong with all the sparkles and lace. Anything that came along that threatened to take up more room, they did away with it. Some of them cut it off. Some of them starved it. Some of them changed their shape completely. All in an attempt to hide their curves, color, hair, height or freckles. They destroyed themselves in order to continue to fit into the box. We all did.

There is nothing wrong with the box. Or the pink. Or the sparkles. They only become problematic when that is all that is seen. Pink is a beautiful color, but it isn’t the only color. Sparkles shine in the light, but there are days where there isn’t any light. Being feminine and soft is a wonderful thing, but there are times other traits are needed.

One day, some women recognized that the box was no longer a gift, but a prison. An expectation or an image which celebrated what we were “supposed” to be, instead of what we are. Those brave ones, stepped out of the box. It’s like they knew how tight fitting it was and that it was only designed for a season, not necessarily for a lifetime. These women discovered our curves are not our blessing or our curse…they are our power.

Curves were created uniquely, specifically to make us different. Formed from a rib, the curves were intentional. Their rounded shape stands out in a world of straight lines. They move with a gentle flow but are strong enough to grow a human. They are the velvet and the hammer. They empower us to be soft and delicate. Strong and decisive. Our curves carry our essence. No matter what color or shape, our curves are designed to make us special. To make us stand out. It has always been so, but we are just now catching the vision of our creation. We are more than helpers and nurturers. We are more than delicate flowers. We are ALSO warriors and fighters. We have voices that matter. We do not have to fit into the box if we have outgrown it.

All the lies we have believed are falling away. We are throwing away our bread of shame and learning, or trying to learn, how to walk in the glory God bestowed on us as the crown of creation. The icing on the cake. The cherry on top. We are finding the freedom to be who we are instead of who others say we should be. Transformation isn’t always a neat process.  Sometimes coming out of the box of expectations is messy. Yet, we must. We need to embrace our curves, they are our power. We need to eat something other than the bread of shame. There is a whole smorgasbord of possibilities if we will open our eyes to see them.

Today I celebrate International Women’s Day with the women in Ukraine, who are carrying their children into bomb shelters. They are not only delicate flowers; they are warriors. I celebrate with women in Africa who carry their children on their backs while they walk miles to care for their families. They are not only gentle and tender; they are pillars of strength. I celebrate with Latina women who create businesses to support their families. They are not only sparkles and lace; they are business women. I celebrate with women who are nurses and teachers who don’t back down in the midst of hard times. I celebrate with women who are artists, poets, and creatives who use their imaginations to inspire. I celebrate with women who are raising the next generation of children in this difficult time in history. I celebrate with single women who hold up our workforce by their sheer determination. I celebrate the women writers who use their voices. I celebrate the women engineers who breakthrough barriers. I celebrate women doctors and lawyers who have become staples in what used to be a man’s world.

The sweet power. The dainty force. The feminine mystique. The soft hammer. We are both soft and strong. Leaders and servants. Voices and silence. We are women. Layered and complex creations. We are worthy to be celebrated. Today I celebrate. Women.

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