Women, too, have been socialized to believe that the ultimate arbiters of their appearance are men, that anything they do with their appearance is or should be “for men.” That’s why women’s magazines trip over themselves to offer up advice on “what he wants to see you wearing” and “what men think of these current fashion trends” and “wow him with these new hairstyles.” While women can and do judge each other’s appearance harshly, many of us grew up being told by mothers, sisters, and female strangers that we’ll never “get a man” or “keep a man” unless we do X or lose some fat from Y, unless we moisturize//trim/shave/push up/hide/show/”flatter”/paint/dye/exfoliate/pierce/surgically alter this or that.
That’s also why when a woman wears revealing clothes, it’s okay, in our society, to assume that she’s “looking for attention” or that she’s a slut and wants to sleep with a bunch of guys. Because why else would a woman wear revealing clothes if not for the benefit of men and to communicate her sexual availability to them, right? It can’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that it’s hot out or it’s more comfortable or she likes how she looks in it or everything else is in the laundry or she wants to get a tan or maybe she likes women and wants attention from them, not from men?
The result of all this is that many men, even kind and well-meaning men, believe, however subconsciously, that women’s bodies are for them. They are for them to look at, for them to pass judgment on, for them to bless with a compliment if they deign to do so. They are not for women to enjoy, take pride in, love, accept, explore, show off, or hide as they please. They are for men and their pleasure."
I say, ‘I am fat.’
He says ‘No, you are beautiful.’
I wonder why I cannot be both.
He kisses me
My college theater professor once told me
that despite my talent,
I would never be cast as a romantic lead.
We do plays that involve singing animals
and children with the ability to fly,
but apparently no one
has enough willing suspension of disbelief
to go with anyone loving a fat girl.
I daydream regularly
about fucking my boyfriend vigorously on his front lawn.
On the mornings I do not feel pretty,
while he is still asleep,
I sit on the floor and check the pockets of his skinny jeans for motive,
for a punchline,
for other girls’ phone numbers.
When we hold hands in public,
I wonder if he notices the looks —
like he is handling a parade balloon on a crowded sidewalk;
if he notices that my hands are now made of rope.
Dear Cosmo: Fuck you.
I will not take sex tips from you
on how to please a man you think I do not deserve.
He tells me he loves me with the lights on.
I can cup his hip bone in my hand,
feel his ribs without pressing very hard at all.
He does not believe me when I tell him he is beautiful.
Sometimes I fear the day he does will be the day he leaves.
The cute hipster girl at the coffee shop
assumes we are just friends
and flirts over the counter.
I spend the next two weeks
mentally replacing myself with her
in all of our photographs.
When I admit this to him
we spend the evening taking new photos together.
He will not let me delete a single one of them.
The phrase “Big girls need love too” can die in a fire.
Fucking me does not require an asterisk.
Loving me is not a fetish.
Finding me beautiful is not a novelty.
I am not a fucking novelty.
I say, ‘I am fat.’
He says, ‘No. You are so much more’,
and kisses me
SLIVER, 32” x 48”, oil, enamel & shellac on canvas, 2012, by Samantha Keely Smith. (+ detail images)
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