take-backsies: my body, not yours.

Baili

Hi all, it’s me, Baili. If you know me personally, you know I love my white wine (sponsor of this very post) my cat Rosie/Baby/HoneyGirl/Sweetie, and just about any book that my hero Rory Gilmore has mentioned in passing. You are also acutely aware of how much I love a good, old-fashioned rant about women’s rights. If you don’t know me personally, and have just read this and are now thinking I’m absolutely insane, hear me out.

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All photos by Kristin Coffman

I, like an alarmingly vast amount of you, have been subjected to sexual assault my entire pubescent life, and then some. From the creepy substitute teacher in 6th grade who insisted I hug him before he would let me leave class (whom I later that year ran into at a restaurant in the midst of his 6th Rainier) to the teenage boys who think it’s funny to yell obscenities at a girl trying to buy tampons (seriously) I’ve had it. It’s a wonder I haven’t morphed into some bra-burning vigilante on the hunt for predatory cat-callers (“V for Vagina, a Memoir”).

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There are absolutely days where I feel angry. Angry because I don’t feel safe enough to take a walk by myself when I can’t sleep at night. Angry because I guarantee there is a guy out there somewhere reading this, probably one I’ve even known intimately, who is seriously thinking that I’m mentally unstable because of my outward frustration. Yeah, being an intelligent, articulate, and passionate woman really sucks sometimes.

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But most days I actually feel very insecure. I moved far away from the convenience and excitement of downtown so that I could live in a neighborhood that was safe enough for a young, small (albeit feisty) woman to live independently. I sleep with pepper spray nearby (a habit I developed before I even had my first real period, no less). I never take Ubers alone. I turned down a promotion at a previous job knowing I’d be subjected to daily sexual harassment by my potential boss. I have to *practice* my resting bitch face, because resting smiling face has earned me several cat-calls, solicitations, and, in one instance, a threat to be gang-raped on my walk to work (sorry if you’re reading this, mom. I promise I’m okay).

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So here I am ranting about how unfair the world is. The truth is, if you’re a woman and you’re paying attention, you already know this. What took me a long time to figure out was that you can’t live in fear. You can’t go to work wearing clothes that you think will protect you from the losers with big mouths (and tiny you-know-whats, most likely) out there. You can’t let male or female antagonists determine your worth based on how much leg you show.

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Some years ago I somehow grew a butt that now has its own orbit. Try as I might to hide it, it’s not going anywhere. While I worshipped loose-fitting sweatshirts in the past, I now prefer tops that are, I don’t know, cute? I shamelessly wear booty shorts out in public. The skirt I wore to this photo shoot warranted the saddest pickup line I’ve ever heard (“Leaving me already?” “Yes.” “Oh… okay”). But I’m taking my body back, I’m rocking what I am, and the rest of the stone-aged world can just deal with it. Ladies, I encourage you to do the same.

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Let your style be your shield against ignorant, predatory boys who think they’re hot shit. You’re a worthy individual who is more than a walking porno for the drunk dude at the bar. I realize this is cliche, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that you cannot control what happens to you. Ignore the victim-blaming dunces in the peanut gallery. There are things we can’t control. But we can learn from them. I now have more confidence in my body than I’ve ever had. It’s my body. Mine and only mine. Take your body back and flaunt it, babe. And if anyone gives you shit, send ’em to the big-booty psycho Khaleesi wannabe and I’ll teach ’em a thing or two about objectifying women. 😉

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