The power of the feminine

I believe that femininity is power. I was born a girl, and even though I know now that I am more fluid than the word “girl” can contain, I am still feminine. I am feminine because I choose to be. I am also queer; these two things both exist inside of me and are both core parts of who I am. It’s taken years of work on myself to realize that I am not a paradox or a contradiction; instead, I am an amalgamation of thoughts and feelings and experiences. I am not a stereotypical queer person, and I do not owe anyone any part of myself that I am not willing to give. So although no one is entitled to my story, I would still like to tell it. 


I grew up in Boston, surrounded by the best and brightest, but the first thing that comes to mind when I remember my childhood is not the man who could solve a Rubix cube behind his back, or the kindly security guard who let me play games on his computer. Instead, it’s the young actress in a Harvard production of H.M.S Pinafore with pale skin, dark hair, and lips a burning, fiery red; she was kind, too. She was kind to this little girl that I was. I don’t even remember her name now, but I remember her femininity, her power. 


 I was eleven, and living in the deep south, when I realized I saw girls just a little differently from the way others did. I didn’t know what it was to be queer, but I knew I was scared: scared that what I was feeling was wrong, scared of what might happen if those around me found out. So I hid. I hid my wonder at all things feminine. I learned to hide behind my words and to become a mirror for whomever I was with, reflecting only their best parts. I did anything and everything I could to keep them from looking too close In doing this I lost any true sense of self I had and became a shell of a person. 


Even after I came out, I didn’t stop hiding. I cut my hair short.  I said I was a lesbian, and when I realized the word “girl” didn’t quite fit, I said I was non-binary.

 I cut away any form of femininity I had in an attempt to contort and squeeze myself to fit into whatever neat little stereotype or label allowed me to be seen as queer. 


 Eventually, hiding stopped working; I only remember bits and pieces of what comes next: long sleeves and long pants, the feeling of drowning, gashes of clarity. I used to love swimming, the feeling of being suspended in a single moment, aware only of yourself. It’s funny how much a year can change things. 


I got better, it wasn’t easy or quick but I did get better. I moved and I met wonderful people, people who helped me untangle my limbs from the box I had forced myself into; people who taught me how to stop hiding, and people who loved me with everything they had no matter what. I have these people to thank for so many of the beautiful things I now have in life. 


So, eventually, I learned what my version of femininity was: I grew my hair out, did my makeup, and dressed however I wanted. I started to love myself in a way I never had before. As I said, it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I believe in queer femininity. I believe in the power of femininity, but most of all, I believe in myself. I am feminine, and I am powerful. 



18 years old

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